Virginia entrepreneur distributes products to Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand, provides market for Eastern Shore delicacies

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce

The first thing that popped into Pamela Barefoot’s mind in 2007 when a state export program asked her to target a new area was the cruise vacation she had just booked to Australia and New Zealand. “I immediately started researching distributors and found a company in Auckland called Interlink Foods,” she says.

Turns out Interlink was a natural distributor for a variety of products from Barefoot’s Bay Beyond company located near Melfa on the Eastern Shore.

Bay Beyond started exporting mixers, peanut products, seasonings and soups in the early 1990s to Great Britain, Hong Kong and Canada. In 2007 the company received a $5,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Business Assistance to expand exports. That’s when Barefoot began working with AIM (Accessing International Markets), a state program that helps companies expand their business abroad. Currently, Barefoot is negotiating with China on a deal involving peanut products.

Twenty-five years after opening for business, international sales now account for 5 percent of Bay Beyond’s annual sales of $3 million. Just recently, the company added a new international client, a deli in the Cayman Islands. “They are excited about having a large display of our items,” Barefoot says. “They have ordered a little bit of everything we sell.”

When she started the company, there weren’t many shipping options on the Eastern Shore. So Barefoot would hang a red flag outside her home whenever she had a shipment for UPS. “Shipping during our early years was difficult,” she explains. “I had to go across the Bay Bridge Tunnel because there were very few business resources here.”

Barefoot’s red flag is a now a memory. “UPS comes here every day. We are the largest UPS shipper on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.” The company shipped more than 12,000 boxes via UPS in 2009, amounting to nearly 368,000 pounds. Bay Beyond also shipped 645 palettes (over 563,000 pounds) by truck.

When Barefoot traveled to New Zealand, she toured Auckland’s downtown area, the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum and the seafood market. She and her husband also rented a houseboat and went fishing in northern New Zealand.
Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is nicknamed the “City of Sails” because it sits among three harbors. Many people who visit the city enjoy hiking or riding to the summit of Rangitoto, a sleeping volcano in Auckland Harbor. Other activities include racing on an America’s Cup yacht or spending time at Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World where visitors learn about the sea life in New Zealand waters.

One of the country’s most popular tourist attractions is the SkyJump where people can literally jump off the tallest building (1,076 feet to its tip) in the Southern Hemisphere. The jump, while attached to a wire, is 192 meters down, to a plaza. Those less daring can just stroll around the SkyWalk and admire the view from the observation deck.

The city’s economy
New Zealand’s economy benefits from tourism and agriculture as well as forestry, small manufacturing and a few high-tech ventures. Top exports range from dairy products and meat to fish and wood products. Top export markets include Australia, the U.S., Japan and China. Some of Auckland’s largest employers, with more than 1,000 employees, are the airline group Air New Zealand Limited; Areva T&D New Zealand Ltd., which provides products and services to help transmit and distribute electricity; Datacom Group Ltd., the largest locally owned information technology company in New Zealand; and Fletcher Building, a building materials manufacturer and distributor that employs 8,000 workers. New Zealand depends on renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric and geothermal sources. Almost three-quarters of the energy used is renewable.

Where to eat
Auckland is filled with a variety of dining choices. The French Café, featuring French cuisine, has two tasting menus; a six-course and a 10-course version. If you want Italian food, head to Prego for wood-fired pizza and pasta. The Grove, which features modern New Zealand cuisine, has a menu that changes seasonally. The restaurant sits next to historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Where to stay
The Beaumont B&B, located in historic Victoria Park, features a fitness center with gym and heated swimming pool. Amerissit Luxury is a contemporary B&B option with a choice of continental or a gourmet breakfast. Golf coaching is available on site. If you want views of Waitemata Harbour, check out the Copthorne Hotel.

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