- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

DICKINSON, N.D. (AP) - A Dickinson education company is planning to tap the Canadian market.

FunShine Express develops and distributes early learning curriculum and tools. Company founder Beth Ehlis told the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1NziV0P ) that exporting had been talked about “for some time” and that the company gets “a fair amount of interest from Canada.”

The company recently took part in a national export training program run by the North Dakota Trade Office, Impact Dakota and the U.S. Commercial Service.

“We know there is a market for our products, but really didn’t know how to go about reaching customers, establishing relationships with them or even how to determine which country would be easiest to enter into markets,” Ehlis said.

For the company, it had been hard to get a secure spot internationally due to shipping and marketing costs with curriculum kits.

“Shipping a kit to Japan or Canada costs almost as much as the product itself and preschool teachers have limited budgets,” Ehlis said.

FunShine made FunShine Online in 2014. It has a database of downloadable materials and activities, allowing FunShine to get around shipping and delivery. In another way of trimming costs, it’s also making changes in certain production processes to send two months of curriculum kits at once.

The company participated in research to find a target market as part of the training program, ultimately choosing Canada because of similarity in time zones, language and structure in early childhood education.

FunShine is awaiting what comes out of an International Partner Search with the U.S. Commercial Office in Canada to figure out partners to introduce the company and product to Canadian early childhood networks.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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