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Articles

We choose few of the articles that has been written about Excel's success stories

August 2003

Maryland Research

Fall 2003

Now's the Time for "Asia Now"

April 17, 2002

Hisham Fawzi, president of Leesburg-based Excel Holdings Inc., has as big a booster as any businessman could hope for — President George W. Bush.

November 5, 2001

Leesburg Exporting Business Honored 

November 5, 2001

Commerce Secretary Evans, Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf Spotlight Importance of Exporting for Virginia Firms

November 2001

Excel Holdings: Distilling Export Success Out of Thin Air


Maryland Research

DRAWING WATER FROM THIN AIR

Virginia Company is marketing devices that can pull clean drinking water from the air using technology that was jointly developed at the University of Maryland.

The units, sold by Leesburg-based Excel Holdings, work in much the same way as dehumidifiers. However, the focus is shifted from producing dry air to producing clean water.  The unit draws in air, first filtering it to remove dust and particulates. Then the filtered air is chilled, causing the water vapor to condense. The water is then filtered further so that it can be safely consumed by humans. The average cost per liter of water produced is about 3 cents, according to Excel Holdings.

The smallest unit that Excel Holdings is marketing, called the Water Finder, can produce up to five gallons of water a day. A larger industrial model, named the Aquasphere, can make a thousand times as much. Performance varies depending on the temperature and relative humidity.

Excel Holdings has secured five exclusive licensing agreements with the University of Maryland's Office of Technology Commercialization to further develop, market and test the device.

Reinhart Radermacher, professor of mechanical engineering and director and co-founder of the Center for Environmental Energy Engineering at Maryland, led the development of the technology as director of research and development for Excel Holdings. University faculty co-developed the technology, optimizing the water production rate and decreasing the energy consumption of the water extraction devices.

The company is focusing on selling the units globally in places without reliable access to drinking water. The company is not at liberty to say how much the individual units will cost to consumers, as sales negotiations are still under way, Radermacher says.  –MB

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Arizona Exporter

NOW’S THE TIME FOR ASIA NOW

A closer look at Arizona’s 2002 export statistics reveals some surprises. For example, many of us might not expect to see that 9 of our state’s top 15 export markets are in Asia. Likewise, while much of our focus remains on NAFTA exports ($4.2 billion), those figures are matched by Arizona’s exports across the Pacific. Until now, however, the bulk of Arizona’s exports to Asia have been generated by a handful of large electronics manufacturers.

In an effort to help smaller companies position themselves in the Asian marketplace, the U.S. Commercial Service is marshaling resources into the Asia Now program. Asia Now is designed with smaller firms in mind, under the premise that companies will enthusiastically diversify if ways can be found to make it easier to enter a second or third market in the same region.

Asia Now enables small companies to find qualified and motivated distributors and buyers in multiple Asian markets. Using existing services such as Gold Key pre-scheduled/pre-screened appointments in multiple cities, the U.S. Commercial Service provides clients with meetings with qualified buyers and distributors, logistical support at each stop, industry-savvy interpreters, targeted market research, and counseling before and after the meetings.

Making the Most of Jet Lag

Mr. Hisham Fawzi, CEO of Virginia-based Excel Holdings, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Asia Now program. Recently, Fawzi wanted to make the most of a trip to Asia by meeting potential customers in more than one market. His local U.S. Commercial Service office suggested he use the Asia Now program.

“It makes sense to us,” said Fawzi. “If I fly the long distance to Singapore to meet with buyers whom the Commercial Service has found for me, it’s cost effective to ask them to do the same thing for me in nearby Malaysia and Indonesia.”

Fawzi says a big attraction of Asia Now is that you can fly into several unfamiliar cities and have most of what you need arranged ahead of time by the U.S. Commercial Service. “The next thing you know you’re set up in a nice hotel, often at a preferential rate.” He adds, “Dealing with folks at the U.S. embassy is a big advantage especially in these times,” he said. “It gives me and the local buyers a lot of confidence and trust in the process and in each other. It can be a decisive factor.”

The Commercial Service offices participating in Asia Now are located in these key markets: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan.

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Exporting offers world of opportunities for small companies.

Washington Business Journal

Timothy Mazzucca, Contributing Writer

Some small businesses bite off a larger market share than they can chew. Others take nibbles at an industry and never reach their full potential.

The lucky ones, thanks to well-polished business plans, sink their teeth into a piece of a market that is a perfect mouthful.

Water from air

Hisham Fawzi, founder of Excel Holdings in Leesburg, created something that has international interest. Fawzi developed WaterFinder (http://www.excelwatersystems.com/), which is a modified dehumidifier that produces drinkable water from humidity. Depending on the amount humidity, Excel's WaterFinder can produce five gallons of water per day.

Fawzi came up with the concept in 1997, when everyone was starting to ride shotgun on the crowded bandwagon of Internet hopefuls. He wanted to make something that would produce something people can't live without.

"I started looking at what human beings need, like food, water, raw materials," Fawzi says, "and water is the most important."

For the next four years, he developed and produced a prototype, refined his business plan. Last year, he signed distributors and set up an international sales network. With only five employees, Excel has two subcontractors that manufacture the WaterFinder units, which allows Fawzi to keep his office small and personal.

In March 2001, the makers of the WaterFinder signed an agreement with a Singapore distributor to deliver units to 13 Asian countries. The next month, the company landed a deal worth more than $35 million to deliver 200,000 WaterFinder to Mexico after attending a trade show.

In November 2001, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Don Evans honored Fawzi’s company. And in early April, he found his company used as an example of a successful small-business exporter in a speech to promote trade given by President George W. Bush.

But all the domestic attention has not led the company to enter the commercial U.S. market. Fawzi, an Egyptian native, admits the American market is easier to penetrate both geographically and culturally, but that doesn't mean that it's a safer investment, he says. And the United States does not have the water shortages of other countries.

Fawzi says it's easier to penetrate the American market but "you have to be very strong financially because you have competition," adding that to gain a strong position in the United States companies need to spend more on marketing.

However, Fawzi has approached the military as an avenue to the U.S. market and is still awaiting a response.

The ultimate goal is for Excel's WaterFinder to be an everyday household appliance like a microwave or dishwasher, Fawzi says.

"It depends on how long customers take to react," he says. "Drinking the air is not an easy thing to be absorbed right away."

Coattail exporting

"Entering a foreign market will always cost you more than you anticipated," says Iris Harvey, chief executive of Bethesda-based Marketing Strategies & Solutions (http://www.mssmarketing.com/). "Many companies don't have the appetite --investment, management time, desire to customize products -- to go international."

Harvey, an exporting consultant, has helped Motorola, General Motors, Philip Morris as well as many small businesses penetrate foreign markets. She says sometimes the sacrifice for small companies is worth the risk.  "Large, multinational companies that succeed abroad usually have global select joint-venture partners that know how to deal with political and regulatory issues," Harvey says. "An exporter has to be sure that they are not breaking any U.S. export-control laws, and they are protecting their intellectual property from international competitors." 

Alexandria-based Delta Electronics did just that by forging relationships with big-name contractors like Rockwell International, Harris and Marconi.

Delta Electronics (http://www.deltaelectronics.com/) designs, manufactures and sells high-frequency communication equipment.

The company, founded in 1961, also got an early jump on competitors that are entering their market segment.

"We've been around so long and we're so niche that we don't compete head to head with anyone in particular," says Joe Novak, Delta Electronics' vice president of marketing.

Domestic work makes up about 40 percent of Delta Electronics' work, but the company is waiting for U.S. military work to trickle down, Novak says. But for now they have enough international work to keep the 22-person company busy.

"The U.S. is a large market, but it's mature," Harvey says. "To go into exporting, you have to have adequate marketing intelligence and view the world through a different cultural lens to succeed."

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Commerce Secretary Evans, Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf

Commerce Secretary Evans, Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf Spotlight Importance of Exporting for Virginia Firms  For Immediate Release  Commerce Secretary Don Evans today joined U.S. Representative of Virginia Frank Wolf in hosting a small business exporting workshop aimed at helping Virginia companies tap into world markets.  Evans also presented local company Excel Holdings, Inc. of Leesburg the U.S. Commercial Service's new Export Achievement Certificate.  The award recognizes companies that have attained their first significant export sales.

Excel Holdings, a minority-owned company, recently made a $35 million dollar sale of its five gallon-a-day Water Finder units to a distributor in Mexico and another large sale to Singapore.  Excel was greatly assisted in this effort by the services of the Commerce Department’s Northern Virginia U.S. Export Assistance Center, which provided export counseling and arranged overseas meetings with key business contacts.  The Export Assistance Center counsels over 350 Northern Virginia firms annually and helped facilitate over $90 million in exports sales in fiscal year 2001.

“Most of the jobs in America are created by small businesses,” Evans said. “Smaller firms represent some of the best in ingenuity and innovation, but have tremendous untapped export potential.  We are giving Virginia companies the tools they need to boost exports that support good, high-wage jobs for the working people.”

“Secretary Evans’ attendance underscores the importance for businesses in our region to explore new trade opportunities worldwide,” Wolf said.  “I am hopeful that the seminar will provide area businesses with the information necessary to consider sending their goods and services abroad.” 

Virginia export sales are on the rise, totaling $10.5 billion last year, a jump of nearly 30 percent since 1993.  These exports support tens of thousands of jobs across the Commonwealth. 

Excel Holdings is quickly developing a worldwide distribution network for its patented potable water-producing technology.  Working with the University of Maryland's Environmental Engineering Department, Excel Holdings' products can produce up to 5,000 gallons of purified drinking water a day by pulling moisture from the atmosphere. The company produces several different models.

Small and medium-sized businesses like Excel represent almost 97 percent of U.S. exporters and account for the fastest growing segment of the exporter community.  Most of  these businesses employ fewer than 20 employees.

More than 100 area companies representing the hi-tech, environmental and biotech industries attended the workshop and received information on trade regulations, regional market opportunities and financing from Commercial Service and foreign embassy commercial officers.  The workshop was held at Herndon High School

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Excel Holdings: Distilling Export Success Out of Thin Air 

Hisham Fawzi sells a machine that produces water out of thin air. It sounds like science fiction, but the Water Finder is real, affordable, and quenching the thirst of customers around the world. For Fawzi's company, Excel Holdings of Leesburg, Virginia, 2001 has been a very good year. In the past six months, Fawzi has made sales of $35 million and $50 million, and now has distributors covering 13 international markets.

And right now, he's dealing with a problem that most businesses would love to have. "My product is easy to sell, but it can be difficult to meet the demand," explains Fawzi. He maintains rigorous customer service standards, and recent sales are keeping his distributors busy. But Fawzi is trying to build his international business slowly $85 million in recent sales can be called slow.

Fawzi acquired the original patent from a Florida inventor who came up with the machine's basic design. He then worked with the University of Maryland's environmental engineering department to improve and refine the Water Finder; he now has six pending patents and has developed a larger version, the Aquasphere, that can produce 5,000 gallons of pure drinking water a day.

Because Fawzi relies on his distributors not only to make sales but also to provide ongoing customer care, "its crucial to find the right distributor. If they fail, I fail," he says. Fawzi's insistence on the most qualified and reliable distributors led him to the U.S. Commercial Service and its Northern Virginia U.S. Export Assistance Center. There he learned that trade experts both there and in the international markets he was considering could help him make the contacts his business needed.

Trade specialist, April Redmon, suggested that Fawzi use a Gold Key Service to enter the Asian market. Commercial Service officers in Singapore identified promising potential distributors and set up meetings for Fawzi with the best prospects. "The Gold Key makes things much easier," says Fawzi. "I feel stronger when I'm selling, and the buyer senses that legitimacy." The result? A distributorship agreement that covers the entire region and includes sales of $50 million. Fawzi went on to do a Commercial Service-supported trade mission and show in Mexico--"our booth was really crowded," he remembers of his first trade show. Again, big sales resulted.

Fawzi's advice to other U.S. businesses is to set a goal and then get out and sell. "Respect for U.S. products is strong, regardless of politics," he says. Too many U.S. companies, according to Fawzi, are apprehensive about selling globally. "The longer U.S. businesses wait to sell outside the U.S., the bigger an advantage we give to other countries," says Fawzi. "It's a global market. We have to get out there." And don’t expect your customers to come to you, he cautions. Travel, and lots of it, is essential for the small exporter.

For Excel Holdings, meeting international demand for fresh water will be perhaps the biggest challenge. A deal with the Whirlpool Corporation to manufacture the WaterFinder units, as well as tentative plans to open a new manufacturing facility in Virginia for the Aquasphere units, mean that Excel Holdings will continue to rise with the export tide.

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