Gautier — By applying the principles of slow and steady growth, a woman-owned business in Gautier is prospering and gaining recognition. On April 6, Pharmaceutical Trade Services Inc. (PTSI) received the 2006 Small Business Exporter of the Year Award from the Export-Import Bank of the United States at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. PTSI, an exporter of specialized prescription drugs and pharmaceutical supplements, previously won the Small Business Administration’s state exporter of the year award and an export achievement award from the U.S. Commercial Service.
“I’m very excited about this national award,” PTSI owner Teri Gautier said. “I haven’t tried to grow too fast. Our slow and steady growth has been the right way for us.”
Gautier says she learned that philosophy from a smart woman in the export business in Atlanta when Gautier worked with small businesses there and in Florida.
“I knew how to get a small business up and going and that’s always been a passion for me,” she said. “I love the challenge. My background is in administration and customer service. That’s what works in this business.”
PTSI began seven-and-a-half years ago as a one-woman operation, and Gautier’s family has been an integral part of the company’s success. She credits her parents, Gerry and Bob Gautier, and brother and sister-in-law, Robert and Sandy Gautier, for the help they’ve given.
“I regret that my Mom can’t accompany me to Washington to receive the award because she is a strong reason for the success we’ve had here,” she said. “My family has been very helpful.”
PTSI purchases all its products in the United States, which are then exported to international and hospital pharmacies and import wholesale companies in Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Latin America. The products include prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, nutrition products and refrigerated and frozen products.
Gautier says PTSI supplies large and small quantities to customers. “That’s what makes us unique. We will work with all size customers,” she said. “Another unique thing about us is that we offer educational services.”
Work at the business requires a lot of documentation and special packaging which can make finding qualified employees a daunting task. Before Hurricane Katrina struck the area, PTSI had 15 employees. The company had property damage and lost 50% of its staff who were dislocated. The exporter has worked back up to 12 employees but Gautier would like to have two more.
“The biggest challenge is finding people willing to work in this very detailed-oriented environment,” she said. “Many people have moved away since Katrina.”
Gautier is located in Jackson County on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and was named for Teri Gautier’s great, great grandfather, who ran a sawmill there. PTSI is eligible for Export-Import Bank’s relief measures for customers in federal disaster areas affected by the storm.
“PTSI exemplifies the indomitable spirit and innovation that allows U.S. small businesses to compete in the global marketplace while creating American jobs at home,” said Bank Chairman James H. Lambright. “It is Export-Import Bank’s mission to support them in doing this. We are delighted to give this worthy company our Small Business Exporter of the Year Award.”
In five years the Gautier company’s export volume increased from $713,000 to $5.8 million backed by Export-Import Bank’s Multibuyer Insurance policy.
“Export-Import Bank’s accounts receivable insurance has been critical to PTSI’s success,” Gautier said. “It gives us credibility and helps when I ask my bank for a letter of credit. When our customers ask for 45-day terms, with Ex-Im Bank’s approval and the credit line, we can offer them those terms, and this makes us more competitive.”
PTSI does not market any products, only services. They do that through trade shows and word of mouth. “We have people refer us; one importer or pharmacy to another because of our prompt response and good packaging,” she said. “We also use government offices that are available to assist and they’ve been very helpful.”
Gautier stays informed of business matters by participating in the International Trade Club on the Coast and being a member of the Mississippi Economic Council. Her goals are to expand the types of customers PTSI has and to work in different ways with their existing customers. She feels the business can serve more needs and hopefully be involved with nonprofit organizations, a special interest of Gautier’s.
“We would have to move the business to grow with more employees and products because we have a reduced workforce here,” she said. “We have to watch every detail, and people tire of that on a daily basis. This type of work is foreign to them.”
Gautier says her type of business would do better in a city, but she is not planning to move PTSI. “The challenges keep me motivated. I like meeting them and will continue to meet them,” she added.
She grew up in Houma, La., and studied business and theatre in college. Her parents moved to Gautier after their children were grown. Teri Gautier moved there in 1998 and is carrying on her great, great grandfather’s family tradition of operating a business in the small Coast town.
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.