Success Stories

Power of Overseas Export Consultation Meetings that Flipped Two Crises into New Opportunities
  • DEFENSE rust removal filter
    • Product Name

      DEFENSE rust removal filter

    • Product Category

      Home & Kitchen > Home > Watering & Irrigation Supplies > Other Watering & Irrigation Supplies

    • Company Name

      CT&S CO.,LTD

Company Overview

Company name
CT&S Co. Ltd.
Lee Gil-wan
Year of establishment
Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do
Main product
Activated carbon fiber shower filter
& water purification filter
Main countries of export
United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Thailand

Overseas Marketing Overview with KITA

Export support program

Matching consultations through

Country of export

United Arab Emirates, Singapore

Export product

Activated carbon fiber shower filter & water purification filter

Export sales

USD 140,000

Overseas Expansion for Small & Medium-Sized Businesses: A narrow but necessary path to open

As the importance of the environment grows, activated carbon fiber (ACF) is garnering wide attention. Activated carbon is a material made by burning biomass like charcoal, as well as a material made into fibers like cloth. Activated carbon is being spotlighted as a major filtering material, namely a filtration device that filters out harmful substances, due to its faster adsorption and desorption speed compared to other materials.
CT&S Co. Ltd., located in Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do Province, the cradle of the domestic carbon industry, specializes in the production of activated carbon fiber water purifiers, a venture startup innovation procurement product. With ‘a world of clean water’ as our company mantra, we are producing and exporting filter products equipped with patented technology using activated carbon fiber. The strength of CT&S products is that they provide healthy water by capitalizing on the specific surface area characteristics of activated carbon fiber and the excellent adsorption capacity of well-developed micropore nano carbon. CEO Lee Gil-wan has underscored the cleanliness of washing and drinking water by using activated carbon fiber, which has the highest added value among carbon materials, while devoting special efforts in the manufacturing process and quality control.

“Since the company was founded in 2015, within two years, we introduced activated carbon fiber filter products equipped with our proprietary know-how by developing patent applications and certification registrations. In 2017, we entered the export market for the first time but experienced major difficulties from the beginning due to a lack of experience by exporting independently through an acquaintance's personal contact. Determined not to repeat the same mistakes, we searched for a relatively stable way to export, and after finding out that there was an export consultation meeting that matched overseas buyers, we made the decision to participate.”

The export consultation meeting has paved the way for the inaugural exports that CT&S had strived for. Starting with an order worth USD 15,000 from Russia in September 2018, the second order worth USD 47,000 was received in December, ushering in the foothold for exports that had been stalled so far.

“We have signed a regular supply contract with Russia since February 2019. Based on this, we decided that we should shift our focus on finding overseas buyers, so we actively participated in exhibitions and export consultations arranged by municipalities and the Korea International Trade Association. Ever since the second half of 2019, we began receiving inquiries and orders from buyers in various countries, and right when our fledgling exports seemed to be stabilizing, we encountered an unexpected headwind called COVID-19.”

Since November 2019, as overseas economies underwent contraction due to COVID-19 restrictions, cancellations in inquiries and orders from buyers ensued. Although we reached exports worth USD 100,000 in shower filter products to India, the nationwide lockdowns in India dashed our hopes for greater sales expansion as buyers' sales activities were severely disrupted. Due to COVID-19, exports of filter products belonging to the household consumer goods category plummeted, with volumes in Russia declining significantly, so the CT&S has faced with another ordeal. To make matters worse, the company faced a major crisis of suspending business with Russian buyers due to the war in Ukraine in February 2022, but CEO Lee Gil-wan did not give up.

“It was the export consultation session that gave our company hope when it was going through challenges. Placing our trust in another helping hand, we have been actively participating in exhibitions and export consultations hosted by the Korea International Trade Association and municipalities to discover overseas buyers since June 2022. Fortunately, export orders from new buyers are gradually being received again from 2023. I would like to express my gratitude to the Korea International Trade Association for helping us out of our ordeal twice.”

If Offline Is Blocked, Go Online! tradeKorea Participation, 10-fold Growth

In 2021, when overseas-based local consultations were impossible due to COVID-19 restrictions, CT&S entered the Korea International Trade Association's tradeKorea market. tradeKorea's business matching service, that supports small and medium-sized domestic export companies entering the online global market, was the optimal choice for CT&S.

“In June 2021, we received an order for shower filter products worth USD 6,000 from a buyer in Dubai, UAE, with the condition of utilizing PayPal as the payment method. Since our company suffered a major failure with its first export transaction and was conducting TT transactions between banks, we were quite embarrassed not being familiar with the PayPal payment method. So, we went to the Jeonbuk Regional Head Office of the Korea International Trade Association and received a consultation, in which they provided detailed information on the PayPal sign-up process and carefully reviewed the emails exchanged with Dubai buyers. Thanks to their friendly overseas consulting service, our export business has been able to proceed without a hitch since then.”

Since then, CT&S has concluded a deal with a Dubai buyer for USD 20,000 last year and USD 62,000 as of 2023, showing rapid growth with a 10-fold boost in transaction value compared to the initial period. After positive discussions with a Singaporean buyer who requested an online consultation through tradeKorea, we have received an initial order worth USD 40,000 after sample testing and are currently producing filter products, with the shipment scheduled to be completed in November.

“Over a long timeframe, whenever our relationships with buyers became alienated, we were able to discover new buyers thanks to the friendly and ongoing follow-up management of the Korea International Trade Association personnel. Joining tradeKorea helped us overcome difficulties. With the addition of the Korea International Trade Association’s friendly and meticulous advice, we are forming a solid partnership with buyers that is growing into a continuous and developing relationship with them.”

Success Point

In 2 years of research and development
Boasting patented technology
for using activated carbon fiber

Boasting patented technology using activated carbon fiber, which is garnering wide attention as an environmental and health matter. Marketing that highlights the importance of clean water for washing and drinking by introducing this feature to shower filters and water purification filter products appeals to consumers who value personal hygiene.

Actively developing overseas sales channels
to overcome limitations in the domestic market
Made in Korea

Recognized that the domestic market prefers large corporate brands and actively carried out sales activities with a focus on developing overseas markets upon launching our business. Emphasized ‘Made in Korea’ as a marketing strategy to overcome the limitations of small and medium-sized businesses with world-class proprietary technology but lacking in recognition. In fact, at the export consultation held in 2022, CT&S samples that emphasized Korea's excellent quality were sold out despite the locally competitive market filled with many low-priced similar products from China.

A lifeline for robust
partnerships with buyers
through participation in business matching

Having endured a failure due to the lack of experience in overseas markets in the early days of business, it later faced a second crisis in the aftermath of COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine. With offline sales channels blocked, the foundation was laid for a comeback through the online global business matching service provided by tradeKorea. Through this, a robust partnership was established with the Dubai buyer, with whom the transaction was completed, with tenfold boost in transaction amount compared to the initial period. Currently, the product in production will be shipped in November based on an order from a new Singaporean buyer whose transaction was concluded through online consultation.

To. Korea International Trade Association

“From the perspective of small and medium-sized companies like us, export market entry and channels can appear like a challenging and long journey, but looking back, I think the export market entry and channels started with tradeKorea, which is ready to offer help anywhere. It made me realize again that they were a shortcut to the export market and an informative guide. If there is a request for the Korea International Trade Association, we would ask for its attentive support in making further upgrades to tradeKorea’s export content to increase the number of views from buyers from around the world, so that the products of small and medium-sized companies like ours can be recognized by buyers and take one step closer to the export market entry.”

From. CT&S CEO Lee Gil-wan

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