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Lessons Learned - Experienced Exporters

Understand All Your Costs Before Shipping

TJ Scimone, founder of Slice Inc., a manufacturer of scissors and box cutters based in San Jose, California, is a veteran exporter who has been navigating global waters for decades. But back in the mid-1990s, when he was still learning the nuances of world trade, Scimone owned another company that exported private label cigars.

The company, called Private Label, sent a shipment of cigars to Europe. But no one had checked on the import duties, and the next thing Scimone knew the cigars were stuck in customs, pending payment of a $10,000 import tax.

“It was our responsibility to do the homework," says Scimone. “Of course I couldn't pass on that fee to my distributor because it wasn't their fault, it was my fault. So, I ate the entire thing."

More recently, a Slice customer tried to return some of the company's cutting tools from Europe to Slice's contract manufacturing facility in China. “But the customer declared the full retail value of the goods, not the wholesale price, and our factory got a $5,000 invoice from Chinese customs, which the factory refused to pay. So we just abandoned the goods at China customs because the value was less than the price of the import duties."

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