International Sales Help Dilon Technologies Weather Domestic Downturn

Dilon Technologies, Inc., in Newport News has developed and manufactured medical devices for more than 20 years. Its devices and systems are used for early disease diagnosis and surgical applications, primarily in the treatment of breast cancer. Dilon’s groundbreaking products include the Navigator® Gamma Probe, one of the most widely used gamma probes for cancer surgery, and the CoPilot VL®, an innovative, affordable, portable video laryngoscope designed for ease in use in intubation and airway management. Its MarginProbe® technology helps identify tumors and provide more accurate margin assessment in surgeries, allowing surgeons to assess tissue in the operating room and reduce the need for follow-up procedures.

Dilon grew out of the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, a U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory in Newport News, also known as the Jefferson Lab. The company sells its products in 76 countries, with its largest markets in Canada, Japan, Australia, and Europe. Dilon has been expanding into Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe in recent years and uses VEDP trade services to overcome its biggest export challenge: identifying local partners.

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Dilon’s equipment is quite specialized, and many potential partners are smaller companies, some without a substantial online presence. Finding these partners can be difficult without physical local representation. Furthermore, the company’s products must pass regulatory hurdles in each new country, necessitating the presence of a representative who understands local requirements and can translate reports into the local language and format. VEDP’s local representation in key markets, with consultants in more than 85 countries, was a major help in navigating those steps.

To help identify these local partners, Dilon engaged VEDP’s market research capabilities and used VEDP’s Trade Show Program to fund participation in shows in Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. At Arab Health in Dubai, company representatives met with current and potential partners from the Middle East and Southeast Asia, while the shows in Mexico helped the company prove the market potential for its products in Latin America. Virtual trade shows offered a wealth of information on how Dilon could better differentiate itself in the marketplace.

The company joined VEDP’s Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) program in 2020, helping its international sales grow by 300% — and the enhanced focus on exports came at a fortuitous time. Soon after Dilon began the program, the U.S. market went into a downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while international markets kept growing, helping protect the company from the ups and downs of the domestic market.

Use the resources of VEDP in research, market analysis, partner searches, and help with whatever you don’t know. They can help find it out. People have common needs that transcend cultural and political boundaries. If you have a product or service that works in the United States, it certainly can work internationally.  But being committed to visiting markets multiple times and providing training, coaching, and support to new partners is essential to achieving mutual success.

Kevin McNeil Vice President of International Sales, Dilon Technologies, Inc.

Engaging VEDP was just part of a broad strategy to grow sales in new markets. Dilon developed videos to introduce its technology to emerging markets and hired a staff member to focus on international growth and relationship management.

Dilon’s international revenue growth has ended up sustaining the company’s overall growth, both on the balance sheet and in the office. Successful processes and tools developed for international markets are now being used domestically — a reversal of the company’s previous methods.


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