A lesson in diversification
SRT's work with Dubai-based Thuraya has given the Davie company a foothold in commercial satellite communication.
For more than a decade, Davie-based SRT Group survived on government contracts, providing federal agencies with advanced satellite and wi-fi technologies. Founder Rick Lund began trying to diversify the 15-year-old company's customer base. In 2011, he got the foothold into the private sector he wanted when SRT won a contract with Dubai-based Thuraya.
The project involved replacing aging digital signal relays at a station in Sharjah, Dubai. To land the deal with Thuraya, one of the world's largest communications companies with operations in 160 countries, SRT had to beat out competitors that included aerospace giant Boeing.
SRT later partnered with Thuraya to develop a nextgeneration satellite broadband modem. The device combines voice transmission with lowspeed and high-speed data services in one portable product that is more reliable and more affordable than what had been on the market.
The modem project earned SRT an innovation award from Thuraya, which in turn helped catch the attention of other companies in the wireless industry. SRT has given product presentations in 20 countries during the last three years, and Lund says it is positioned for substantial international growth, particularly in partnership with Thuraya.
SRT is privately held, selffunded and small, with 88 employees, giving it the lower overhead that enables it to underbid larger, more established companies, Lund says.
The company is now focused on developing customers in the maritime, aviation, oil and gas industries, which have a growing need for portable communications in remote areas. The cost and size of satellite communications technology has limited the utility of satellites for those industries, but SRT's ability to reduce the size and expense of satellites is enabling it to create new markets for the technology. "SRT's development was focused on that opportunity," Lund says. "Bringing it to the tops of mountains and the middle of oceans. " — Kira Lewis
ASIA — Medley-based Brightstar is buying a division of Tokyo- based Softbank BB, which will make Brightstar the primary global distributor for Softbank's Selection mobile products. The company did not disclose the purchase price. Softbank BB is related to Softbank Corp. , which purchased a majority stake in Brightstar last October.
At February's Singapore Air Show, Florida companies in attendance with Enterprise Florida made deals for more than $62. 3 million.
CUBA — The European Union, Cuba's second-largest trading partner, approved negotiating with the nation with the aim of restoring full relations. Talks will include topics such as trade, investment and human rights.
MIDDLE EAST — As part of a $2-million joint industrial research program founded by the Israeli and Florida governments, Space Florida and Israeli research center MATIMOP issued a request for proposals for joint research and development projects by companies in both Florida and Israel. > The Israeli-American Council, the largest Israeli- American organization in the U. S. , opened a regional office in Miami — its only such office outside California. The office will serve the estimated 30,000 Israelis living in Florida. > Enterprise Florida reported that the 24 life sciences companies that traveled to the Arab Health trade show in Dubai Jan. 27-30 made deals for $111 million in sales. Twelve of those companies attended the show with a grant from Enterprise Florida. Florida had the largest exhibit in the U. S. pavilion.
UNITED KINGDOM — Westonbased human resources software company Ultimate Software opened an office in London to support customers with employees around the world.
VENEZUELA — The Venezuelan government reduced the limit on how much Venezuelans can charge on their credit cards in Florida to $700 annually, down from $2,500. Florida is the top destination for Venezuelans visiting the U. S. , and many Venezuelans are big shoppers in the state, as well as real estate investors. The Venezuelan government, meanwhile, also imposed new price and profit margin caps on consumer goods, which have made it even more difficult to buy goods in that country. It also imposed new rules that will prevent Venezuelans from purchasing international airline tickets or obtaining cash at the "preferential" exchange rate of6. 3 bolivars per dollar. Auction or black-market exchange rates make purchases more expensive for Venezuelans.
The first phase of massive renovations was completed last month at Cuba's Port of Mariel, which is expected to become the nation's main foreign trade port. In conjunction with the opening, Cuba inaugurated the new Mariel Special Development Zone, a 180-square-mile area in which companies receive tax and Customs breaks.
Changing Attitudes Toward Cuba
Percentage of Floridians who…
63% Strongly or somewhat support allowing more U. S. companies to do business in Cuba 63% Support normalizing relations or engaging more directly with Cuba
15% Oppose holding meetings with the Cuban government aimed at working together on issues such as drug trafficking and smuggling
67% Favor removing prohibitions on travel to Cuba Source: Atlantic Council
AIRLINES — Southwest Airlines will begin its first international flights on its own planes in July, including trips between Orlando and Aruba and Montego Bay, Jamaica. Spain-based Air Europa, which stopped serving Miami International Airport in 2010, will begin flying into the airport in June, when it begins thrice weekly trips between Miami and Madrid. > Low-cost carrier XL Airways France, which first flew summer flights into MIA last year, will offer seasonal summer service between MIA and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport again this year. > In December, Finnair will begin flying between MIA and Helsinki.
COMMUNICATIONS — Chicagobased public relations firm GolinHarris is expanding in Latin America via a new division based in Miami.
ENTERTAINMENT — West Palm Beach-based Olympusat, which owns 68 Spanish-language television stations, will broadcast entertainment programming from Venezuelan company Televen América to the U. S. and other parts of Latin America.
FINANCIAL SERVICES — Banco do Brasil Americas, a subsidiary of one of Brazil's largest banks, applied to open a branch in Doral, its fifth in the state. > Another arm of a Brazilian bank, Safra National Bank of New York, applied to open a branch in Miami's Brickell area. It will be the company's third branch in the U. S. ; it has branches in New York and Aventura. > Private bank Andbank will enter the U. S. market with its planned purchase of Miami-based Swiss Asset Advisors' asset management business.
MARKETING — The U. S. State FLORIDATREND. COM MAY 2014 51 Industry Briefs Department brought ambassadors and a deputy chief of mission from 34 countries to Miami in January as part of an "Experience America" trip to promote business ties. The diplomats toured PortMiami, the University of Miami Life Science and Technology Park and other key facilities in the area, met with business leaders and attended various business networking events and discussions.
REAL ESTATE — Switzerlandbased Crédit des Alpes formed a joint venture with three Miami-based real estate property owners and managers to develop, acquire and manage real estate in the U. S. and internationally. The venture with Domus One Group, Parinvest Asset Management and Location 3 is named Crédit des Alpes Partners.
Trade at Miami Customs District
3% Drop in trade through the Miami Customs District last year
$67. 9 billion Value of exports, down 7. 3% $52. 6 billion Value of imports, down 2. 1%. The main culprit: Falling prices and demand for gold, which was the district's top import and export in 2012
11 Ranking among 43 U. S. Customs districts.
Note: The Miami Customs District includes airports and seaports from Key West through Palm Beach County. Source: U. S. Census Bureau