Diego Arteaga has lived his life selling in an international arena. Born in Ecuador, he attended college in the United States, where he got his first sales job selling books door to door as a University of Georgia student. After graduation, he moved back to Ecuador, where he worked marketing consumer goods for heavy hitters like Coca-Cola and Philip Morris and Compaq.
In the early 2000s, he moved to Miami and started working in the telecommunications industry, exporting GPS systems to Latin America. In 2005, Arteaga struck out on his own, opening DF International Group to wholesale consumer goods from clothing to electronics.
Five years later, Arteaga concentrated the business to wholesaling GPS systems. Today, DF International has $1.3 million in sales, and exports GPS systems that can be used for anything from consumer vehicles to motorcycles, boats and commercial trucks. He sells to customers throughout Latin America and the U.S., as well as Dubai, Nigeria and Canada.
DF International, based in Sunrise, is a family business. Arteaga handles sales, customer calls and outreach. His wife, Francis, manages accounting and administration, and daughter, Francine, a recent college graduate, works part time handling marketing and web development. The trio handles everything from unpacking goods coming in from China, Thailand and Israel to repacking them to ship out.
The company has no debt, and Arteaga sees potential for tremendous growth. He would like to acquire new customers, and increase sales with current customers. He wants to unroll a new product aimed at child and pet safety. But he is pulled in many directions, and knows he needs a concrete plan for growth.
“I know what I need to do, but I need to put a plan in place,” Arteaga said.
Arteaga asked the Miami Herald for a Small Business Makeover, and the Herald brought in Broward SCORE, a nonprofit with volunteer counselors from the business community who mentor small business owners.
The SCORE tune-up team was led by David Harris, director of marketing, Greenway Golf Course Management, whose expertise is in operational management, fiscal controls and marketing. Other team members were Hector Arrillaga, managed print services software solutions director for the Americas, Hewlett-Packard, whose expertise is sales, strategic planning and management; and Miguel Orta, a faculty member in the Entrepreneurship MBA program at the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business, Nova Southeastern University, whose expertise is entrepreneurship, international trade and law.
“You have to plan a systematic expansion,” Harris said. ”Make a plan, but make it achievable, with a timeline and a target.”