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Irish Student Travels to Southeast to Learn Industry

Wed October 22, 2003 - Northeast Edition
Tonya Layman

In a period of just six months, Colin Keane, a graduate student of The Queens University of Belfast, will have spoken to more than 600 companies in his quest for information about portable screening and recycling equipment needs of Southeastern United States companies.

Working from Atlanta, Keane is a participant of the Explorers Program, which is funded by the British government agency Invest Northern Ireland. The program, managed by Edge Innovation Learning Intl. Ltd., helps growth-oriented Northern Ireland companies export more effectively around the world. The 35-week program is aimed at exporters wishing to expand into new markets and further develop existing markets outside Northern Ireland.

Through the government-sponsored export program, recent graduates are matched with sponsoring companies who send them to international markets in hopes of gathering information and creating export opportunities out of Northern Ireland.

Keane, who is sponsored by Viper International Ltd., is meeting with small- and medium-size corporate businesses in the Southeast to complete market research and promote his host company’s range of products relating to screening applications. Viper International is one of the world’s largest portable screening and recycling manufacturers.

Although many of his visits resulted from “cold calling,” Keane has been able to have some very positive meetings in Tennessee, Georgia, north Florida and east Alabama with representatives from rock quarry, sand and gravel, topsoil, dirt and reclamation industries. He spoke with an average of 20 people per week and through these meetings has been able to seal several deals for Viper products.

Viper products assist in the screening production of topsoil, rock, sand, gravel and fill dirt, and also in the recycling of concrete and asphalt waste. During these meetings, Keane educates business representatives on Viper.

“Every single person who I have met has been very friendly and hospitable. They are very eager to talk business,” he said. “There is increasingly high demand in the Southeast for these products as the [Environmental Protection Agency] seems to be making stricter specifications on different materials.”

Keane added that more and more material suppliers are starting to consider using screening units to produce the specifications required by government regulations.

Keane is the first student hosted by Viper in this program. Upon his return to Ireland, he will present a business development report to Viper representatives and a representative from the British government, to whom he will share his market research findings. Then, Keane hopes he can return to the United States — this time as a Viper employee.

“I really like the Southeast area,” he said. “Everyone has been extremely hospitable there. Viper International has been a great company to work with and I am working on securing a job with them after this project is finished.”

Keane is appreciative of the opportunity that Viper and the Explorers Program has given him to learn about the screening and recycling products business.

Explorers sets out to teach international business skills, accelerating the graduate student’s success and proving that a fresh mind offers real competitive advantage. Candidates for the program must pass an assessment of their leadership abilities and commercial acumen.

For those who make it, the learning begins with Accelerate, a training program crafted from a library of elements used to develop management teams in Coca-Cola, Motorola, HP, Dell and the Smurfit Corporation.

According to Edge Innovative Learning, the program has been designed to expedite the student’s acquisition of leadership skills and to develop his or her ability to function successfully with high levels of autonomy and responsibility. Explorer participants are guided by an Edge regional manager and receive advice from a business mentor working in their market. This support enables the student to emerge from the program more skilled, more employable and more commercially astute than most of his or her peers.

For more information, call 423/332-8921 or visit