Interview with Isaac Elkah, founder and CEO of Preferred Depot.
Preferred Depot’s founder, Isaac Elkah, a veteran of the Israeli high-tech industry, brings more than 20 years of experience in operations and customer service and was twice relocated to the U.S. by Israeli companies (CMT/Thales, Syneron-Candela). After more than a decade in executive positions in the U.S., Mr. Elkah recognized the need to provide Israeli companies with a soft landing in the U.S. by significantly reducing the costs and risks traditionally associated with the significant strategic step of entering the U.S. market.
What are you offering?
In the last few years, I have been asked several times, “How can we make the process of entering the U.S. more efficient while minimizing the risks for companies that are not familiar with the market and are unsure of whether their products are ready for launch?” Until now, Israeli companies interested in expanding their operations to the U.S. have generally been faced with two options. The first has been to work with a distributor (that will cut a big portion from their revenue and, unfortunately, will keep their supplier’s customer database close to their vest). The second has been to establish an office, which requires a substantial upfront investment and poses additional financial risks at a critical time when a company is trying to maintain a positive cash flow.
Today, we are offering a new path that is affordable and tailored to our clients’ evolving business needs, field of operation and stage of activities. We enable Israeli companies to establish their operations almost immediately. Our comprehensive services include complete back-office operations — from providing a local address and phone number to office space, importation and storage, processing client orders, shipping and technical support to legal and business development. In addition, we assist entrepreneurs in finding potential business partners and creating an initial basis for further business relationships.
Our solution allows entrepreneurs to continue to invest in the core business of their companies, R&D, sales and marketing, while we take care of the rest. As a result, I believe that there is no need to begin relocating employees and their families nor to incur the direct expenses associated with leasing building space, furnishing offices, or hiring staff.
What are your specialties and what makes you different from other companies in the U.S. that are offering similar solutions?
I would say our entrepreneurial spirit and our familiarity with both the U.S and Israeli markets.
Preferred Depot is owned by Israeli and American partners and our management team has significant experience establishing operations in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Key members of our team are Israeli, which eliminates both language and cultural barriers.
The team that will be assigned to work for your company provides full transparency for all of the activities carried out in the U.S. This includes reports and regular meetings with the peer team in Israel. Simply put, our team works for your company but not on your payroll.
Our offices are located near both major air and seaports (Los Angeles and Long Beach), offering strategic logistical and trade capability between Asia and the U.S. We are also able to provide after-hours support to East Coast companies and the fact that the weather in California is almost never an issue gives us further advantages. In the last few years, Orange County has become an incubator for high-tech companies in general and for Israeli companies in particular.
Our company became certified ISO 9001:2015 early on. When you are providing a variety of services to different companies, you must be able to understand their requirements and you have to follow policies and procedures to make sure that the results are consistent. It is for these reasons that we chose to pursue this certification.
What is your vision?
To be able to see each of our clients grow from a small business into a very, very large one. We aspire to be the leading and premier outsourcing provider to Israeli companies, the preferred long-term partner to our clients, and a contributor to responsible and sustainable growth.
How are you assisting companies to expand in the U.S.?
Preferred Depot is dedicated to the development of local and international companies in North America. Our mission is to provide clients with a low-risk, cost-effective and flexible alternative for operating a business. Entrepreneurs and business owners can focus on what really matters – building their brand and improving their sales performance.
Preferred Depot has the people, space and systems in place to provide your company with an ideal operating environment and the flexibility to adjust to meet your changing needs. You can enjoy seamless transitions between market ups and downs and you’ll have the ability to utilize more space and resources when needed.
What happens when companies decide that the attempt was successful and they want to expand their operations and move to the U.S.?
Helping companies to grow by minimizing their risk is our main goal. We will continue to assist these companies in finding a place, recruiting local staff and to help with a smooth transition. I believe that successful collaborations will generate additional business in the future as we can still be their sub-contractor.
Entrepreneurs and investors think that an Israeli company in the United States cannot succeed without relocating people to the U.S. What do you think?
There is no doubt that having a presence in the U.S. is important. However, relocation is just one option available to companies. There are pros and cons. More and more Israeli companies are turning to recruiting agencies to find Israeli employees who live in the United States and do not need work permits in order to save the moving costs (can be thousands of dollars) and start running their operations immediately.
Establishment of a U.S. operation generally will cost more than what the company predicted because of the complexity of the distribution and the size of the U.S market.
Since Preferred Depot allocates American and Israeli employees who work directly with our customers and also provides full transparency on the activity in the US, there is no need to relocate employees from Israel to the U.S. in the very early stages, especially when the budget for startup companies is limited.
Who are the companies that are approaching you?
We are collaborating with start-up incubators and investors as well as finance management companies. Companies are approaching from almost every industry – medical companies, electronics manufacturers, online retailers, toy companies, and even an Israeli winery. Interestingly, we are often approached by individuals that sell through Amazon and are disappointed with the changing rates and warehouse locations.
What are the costs?
Costs vary from company to company and depend on the type of services we are providing. We are flexible on our rates, especially for long-term contracts. You pay monthly for the specific package that we have tailored to fit your company’s needs. We match the price to the volume of activity at each stage (allowing the company to maintain a higher cash flow). We are very flexible with our prices, agreements are normally month to month and no long-term commitment is necessary (unless there is a large initial investment required on our part).
About Preferred Depot
Based in Orange County, California, Preferred Depot is a full-service solutions provider offering Israeli companies in virtually every industry sector a “soft landing” in the U.S. by significantly reducing the costs and minimizing the risks associated with entering the U.S. market. In addition, companies who are seeking to expand their presence in the States can now enjoy from the advantages the West Coast offers to mature companies.
Preferred Depot offers a one-stop shop solution, from a full range of back office services to call center and technical support, from order fulfillment to business development. All at a fraction of the cost of doing it yourself.