Local Firms Part of Asian Trade Mission

By Aisling Maki

Three Memphis area companies are among 11 businesses chosen by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) to participate next week in a medical trade mission focused on expanding their businesses into China and South Korea.

Representatives from Christie Medical Holdings and Silicone Arts Laboratories of Memphis and iScreen Vision of Cordova will depart Sunday, April 15, for Southeast Asia, where they’ll spend the next week exploring opportunities in those emerging markets.

“I think it’s great that Christie, along with the other Memphis-based companies, is able to represent our city in expanding our exports from local companies to a huge potential marketplace like China,” said Chris Schnee, general manager and vice president of sales and marketing at Christie Medical Holdings, developer of VeinViewer, an imaging system designed to see patients’ veins through their skin for assistance in IV placement and blood draws.

IScreen Vision is a company that provides fast, portable pediatric vision-screening equipment and analysis for infants, preschoolers and school-age children, while Silicone Arts Laboratories combines Hollywood-style special effects and plastic surgery techniques to manufacture scar and wrinkle concealment products called Dermaflage.

The other companies selected to participate in the mission are ABT Molecular Imaging and Gryphus Diagnostics of Knoxville; Dream Systems and VenX Medical of Nashville; E-Spin Technologies, Fillauer and Hollywog of Chattanooga; and Stinger Medical of Murfreesboro.

The group will visit Beijing, China, and Seoul, South Korea, attending meetings arranged by the U.S. Commercial Service.

“We’ve used the U.S. Commercial Service for partnering up with various distribution organizations, doing partnership searches and product launches in other countries over 25 times,” Schnee said. “But this is new to Christie in that we have all these other companies kind of traveling together.”

Mission participants will also travel to Shenzhen to attend the China International Medical Equipment Fair, the largest exhibition of medical equipment and related products and services in the Asia-Pacific region.

“This is an excellent opportunity for these Tennessee businesses to open the door for exports to two rapidly growing Asian markets,” Will Alexander, ECD assistant commissioner, said in a statement. “TNTrade is intended to increase the number of small- and medium-sized Tennessee companies who are exporting overseas, and this mission is a great way to kick off the program.”

ECD’s mission is to develop strategies to help make Tennessee a top Southeast location for high-quality jobs. The department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with companies across the state to facilitate expansion and economic growth.

The upcoming trade mission, focused solely on Tennessee’s medical device manufacturers and other health care companies, is part of ECD’s export initiative TNTrade, which offers small- and medium-sized companies across all sectors access to new markets.

Christie Medical Holdings, which began expanding into international markets in 2008, now has representation in more than 45 countries.

Schnee, who will be traveling with Christie Medical president George Pinho, said the company already sells several products, including two VeinViewer models, in China, and is in the process of registering more products there.

“In this case, we actually have representation in South Korea and we’re expanding our representation in China and we need a broader distribution strategy there,” Schnee said. “For us, the express goal is to meet with our current partner and to augment our distribution strength by adding several additional distributors in the China market.”