Global Tampa Bay


Global Tampa Bay returns from successful sales mission to Panama

Global Tampa Bay just returned from its latest export sales mission and the nine local companies who attended have reported promising estimated sales as a result of this trip. We’re still waiting to hear final projections, but the trip, which took place March 18-20, could yield nearly $6 million in future economic activity and sales.

Nine companies from the Tampa Bay region participated in the export sales mission to the Latin American country, which is one of Florida’s largest merchandise export markets. The local companies participated in the U.S. Commercial Service’s Gold Key Service (GKS) Matchmaker program, which provided customized one-on-one meetings with companies in Panama. These Gold Key companies conducted approximately 45 meetings with potential customers.

The sales mission to Panama was the first for Tampa Armature Works, Inc. (TAW), an industrial equipment and power distribution and services company that has been headquartered in Hillsborough County for more than 95 years.

“The trade mission exceeded my expectations and I look forward to future export trips to Central America as it is a key market for our company,” said Jorge Diaz Lugo, international sales manager of TAW. “The selection of prospective customer meetings was right on target with our company’s core competencies. I also made great connections and identified other business opportunities through meetings with executives from the Panama Canal and local utility companies.”

In addition to the one-on-one Gold Key meetings, participants also attended a country commercial briefing by the U.S. Embassy and a welcome reception hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to Panama. More than a dozen delegates, including county commissioners and local business leaders, also participated in the trip and attended meetings and events, including a tour of the City of Knowledge and USF Health Panama and a presentation by Copa Airlines. The delegates and Gold Key company representatives also travelled to Colon, Panama where they visited the Logistics Services Panama, the Manzanillo International Terminal and Agua Clara Locks (Panama Canal Expansion).

Jim Howell, president of Perky’s Pizza, a wholesale food and kitchen distributor, focused on pizza-centric ingredients and equipment for small businesses around the world, also expressed interest in attending another export sales mission to Central or Latin America.

“These sales missions are important to my company because as a small business, I simply cannot get the face-to-face time with potential international customers otherwise,” said Howell. “The commercial services team does an outstanding job setting the meetings up, and now it’s up to my team and me to turn these opportunities into more sales.”

Global Tampa Bay is planning its next export sales mission to San Paulo, Brazil for the third quarter of 2019, so keep an eye out for more details. If you’re interested in attending, please contact Madison Lawson at 813-518-2668 or

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