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SBANE Member Agiltron highlighted by the Massachusetts Export Center Compliance Alliance

Agiltron highlighted by the Massachusetts Export Center Compliance Alliance

Name:  Mitch Shikowitz Title:  Export Compliance Officer
Company:  Agiltron, Inc. City:  Woburn, MA
Established:  2001 Employees:  78
Description: Agiltron, Inc. is a vertically integrated developer and manufacturer of premium optical and photonic components and systems for communications, sensing and instrumentation. Our products are based on optical, micro‐mechanical, and electro‐optical systems in combination with our competencies in manufacturing, infrared photonics, electronics, firmware and analytical software. Export Markets:  Asia, EU, South America View PDF   How are international trade compliance operations structured at your firm? Agiltron has a comprehensive and robust compliance program for a small high tech manufacturer & exporter. Key personnel in sales, shipping, logistics, contracts, and engineering have clearly defined roles, processes and responsibility to address export compliance. In my role, I am the point of contact for overall corporate export compliance.  I report directly to the president of the company and have decision‐making authority for export compliance operations. Our senior staff leads by example, showing full commitment to compliance within the organization. Which regulations most affect your export activities?  Do you export controlled items? Agiltron products are primarily regulated by the EAR, and we have also been affected by the recent Russia and Ukraine sanctions.  Under the EAR, almost all of our export transactions involve 5A991 & 3A999 products which are controlled for AT purposes, as well as EAR99 products.  Under the ITAR, we have no physical exports, though we have to consider technology controls of our Unclassified Controlled Technical Data with our Government Research and Development market.  Lastly, the recent Russia and Ukraine sanctions and 50% ownership rule has required that we conduct a more thorough end use screening for a small number of export customers in Russia. What are some of the tools you use to keep up to date with changes in regulations? Reading the Daily Bugle, subscription to the BIS e‐mail notification service, webinars, having access to key consultants, subscribing to export‐focused advisory e‐mails and blogs, participation in BIS weekly teleconferences, attending BIS Annual Update, membership in the Compliance Alliance from the Mass Export Center for access to workshops and webinars for benchmarking and networking with peers. It also helps to have a curiosity for news articles concerning politics, foreign policy, trade, economics and commerce issues. What are some of your trade compliance “best practices” that other exporters could learn from? Corporate buy‐in.  To start, having commitment from top management is key to convey the importance export compliance company wide.   Then, having and maintaining an Export Compliance Program with regular updates regarding changes in regulations and procedures keeps the compliance manual current.  Lastly, it is important to create employee awareness and buy‐in by providing regular training and certification on export regulations. Another best practice is the use of automated compliance software.  Agiltron utilizes Exportassure® which offers secure e‐mail access, control and auditing, document control and folder security, Technical Data classification and access control and restricted party screening ‐ I call it “Compliance in a Box”. With strong support of management, implementation of this product was rolled out over the last few years. By using this software, Agiltron has clearly defined roles, processes and responsibility across the organization to address Purchasing, Financial, Operations, IT, Engineering, R & D, and Product Engineering. Key employees have access to the Restricted Party Screening for order entry and shipment of regular export transactions that produce electronic records that are easily accessed and provide traceability required by the EAR. Does your company have an established Export Management Compliance Program?  How are the guidelines for the compliance program conveyed to staff and partners worldwide? Agiltron has an extensive Export Compliance Manual that covers all aspects of the EAR, ITAR, and additional policies and procedures regarding IT infrastructure, external partners, Government contracts, facility access and foreign visitors. As part of the on‐boarding process, new employees receive training in basic Export Compliance, while those with roles involving specific export compliance responsibilities receive additional in‐depth training. On an annual basis all employees are re‐certified on both Ethics and Export compliance. Additionally, employees are notified via e‐mail, meetings or inhouse training of any key issues concerning changes to export compliance. Our Compliance program is not static; it is revised and updated as the regulations change or as our business process changes. Compliance takes a proactive approach within our organization. Having a good working relationship with staff and being a solutions provider helps get the message out as well.
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