You never know how far a new business connection could take you – but you have to make the connection to find out.

That’s the message from 2 Queensland business owners who met at a TIQ Export Connections workshop this month and are already looking at doing business together.

Export Connections workshops include real-life case studies as well as short, sharp brainstorming sessions where participants share their business challenges and get advice from their peers.

It was during one of these brainstorming sessions at a Brisbane workshop that Gail Bray from Lock Jaw Ladder Grip met experienced businessman Manny Gerasimou.

Gail, relatively new to the world of exporting, was delighted to receive tips from Manny, while Manny saw a good product that would work for a number of his business connections.

Gail said the 2-hour workshop represented great value for her company, which manufactures a unique patented device that prevents ladders from moving by locking them to roof gutters.

‘We’re a family business that has been operating for around 10 years, but it was only about 12 months ago that we decided to really focus on the business and on expanding into new markets,’ she said.

‘When we made that decision, I moved from my previous role outside the company to become General Manager.

‘I’ve worked in global corporate companies for 25 years, but not in sales and marketing, so I’ve really had to learn a lot myself.

‘It was great to meet Manny – he’s had a long time in business and he was able to give me his insights and advice on how to promote our product.’

Manny has had more than 3 decades of diverse business experience in hospitality, manufacturing, business development, exporting and more. He currently wears a number of hats in different businesses, including as Special Projects Lead with Planet Ark Power.

Manny said he was pleased to share his tips and contacts with Gail, and also saw potential synergies between some of his business contacts and Lock Jaw Ladder Grip’s innovative product.

‘To succeed in business, you have to put your head up, have a look around and engage with other people with similar and different skill sets,’ he said.

‘I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop, this notion of collaboration.

‘For me, meeting Gail, it’s an opportunity to work with someone good, and I’ve been able to put her in touch with people who can take some units from her.

‘I also went to the workshop with the goal of identifying new investment leads for Planet Ark Power, and I achieved what I set out to do on that front as well.

‘It’s all about relationships.’

Gail, who’s benefited from attending a variety of business workshops in the past year, agrees.

‘Building relationships is the most important thing,’ she said.

‘You don’t know where it’s going to lead.

‘It could be your next big thing.’

The Lock Jaw Ladder Grip company invented and now manufactures a patented ladder safety device, which is sold to domestic and corporate customers in Australia, the USA and Europe, including the Swedish fire brigade and large US insurance companies.

Planet Ark Power is a leading renewable energy company providing clean-energy solutions to help businesses and organisations reduce electricity costs and adopt more sustainable energy practices.

Providing training to help Queensland SMEs become export-ready is an action under the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022.

The next free Export Connections workshop will be held at Alexandra Headland on Thursday 12 December. It will include a business collaboration session and a presentation by Sunshine Coast businesswoman Sandra Gosling, founder of the COYO dairy-free yoghurt company, a Queensland export award winner.