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Middle Market Companies Excel By Exporting

Zach Brooke

As a new administration prepares to enter the White House with an eye toward revising trade agreements, research shows half of all middle market firms do business abroad

Experts have said that middle market companies don’t have the same level of exposure to the global economy as the largest firms. Though that’s generally true, it doesn’t mean U.S. middle market companies operate entirely within the domestic economy. Recent research from the National Center for the Middle Market found that roughly half of all middle market organizations have an international presence, up significantly from two years ago. 

A survey of 400 C-level middle market executives found that 54% of respondents export to foreign markets while 48% import. The number of exporters is particularly notable, as it shows a 14% increase from a 2014 survey by the National Center for the Middle Market and the Brookings Institution. Of those companies that either import or export, 58% said they do both. Overall, middle market exporters derive 33% of total revenue from international sales.

“I expected the figure for middle market exporters to be smaller, perhaps 30-40%,” says Kati Suominen, founder and CEO of Nextrade Group, which helped conduct the survey. “This may mean that middle market companies have diversified their markets after the Great Recession so as to spread their exposure across more markets. It may also indicate that middle market companies are using more technologies, like e-commerce, that tend to increase the odds for a company to become an exporter.”

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Zach Brooke

Zach Brooke is a former AMA staff writer turned freelance journalist. His work has been featured in Chicago magazine, Milwaukee Magazine, A.V. Club and VICE, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Zach_Brooke.