A delegation led by the Andhra Chamber of Commerce visits Transatlantic Sales in September.

It seems like a relatively easy gap to fill.

International companies, especially small ones, need a place to enter the U.S. without the risk of renting large offices and hiring service providers.

Enter business incubators, which offer space, phone services, sometimes even legal and accounting help. The goal is to remove the hassle of starting a business and allow companies to ramp up quickly by focusing on their strengths: developing and selling their products or services.

Though government-funded centers like Denmark‘s Accelerator and France‘s ERAI office as well as educational startup hubs like Georgia Tech‘s ATDC have seen success in Atlanta, few private incubators have taken off.

Call it a symptom of a historic economic downturn that made small companies skittish about overseas expansion, but multiple efforts to establish landing pads for foreign firms have sputtered over the past few years.

An incubator in Duluth has found a way to skirt that trend thanks to a few qualities its leaders call unconventional but essential in attracting global companies.

You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but Transatlantic Sales LLC is helping companies from India, Germany and other countries find their way in the U.S. The nice but nondescript building is tucked away in an industrial park that also houses distribution for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Over the last year Transatlantic Sales has added two new clients and expanded its warehouse and office space by 60 percent, said Michael Hartmann, the company’s president.

For the resilience during the downturn, Mr. Hartmann credits his firm’s ability to offer the same services despite thinner margins. Unlike government incubators, whose services fluctuate based on funding, Mr. Hartmann said he and Transatlantic CEO Claus Boelter have to stick it out when things get tough.

“We didn’t fire or reduce anyone during the last two or three years when the economy came down. We didn’t cut any services,” he said.

The company bundles sales support with services like information-technology assistance, accounting, administration and office space.

But a key to its model is that companies have a place not only to set up their staff, but also to store their inventory, Mr. Hartmann said, pointing out a wall of shelves filled with specialty strollers sold by Germany’s Trends for Kids GmbH.

The 2011 recovery has been slower than expected, but through new relationships with overseas business partners, Transatlantic is signing new clients and broadening its geographic scope, he said.

“Yes, we started out with German companies, but we realized with the high euro … that we need to go to other countries, not only within Europe but on other continents,” Mr. Hartmann said. Brazil, India and South Africa have been targeted.

DV Venkatagiri, who represents the company in India and also has his own consulting venture, brought a delegation of 14 Indian firms to Georgia in September. Transatlantic’s expertise made the company an essential stop, he said.

“With consultants, it’s always, ‘I know a guy who owns a warehouse, I know a guy who travels to India, I know a guy who has an accounting office, but this man has real-world experience,” Mr. Venkatagiri told GlobalAtlanta of Mr. Hartmann. It also helped that Prabhat Industries, an Indian firm that makes rubber gaskets, is a successful Transatlantic Sale customer.

Five delegates offering services from engineering to education signed up to use Transatlantic’s incubator to establish a foothold in the U.S.

Read more: Indian Delegation Makes Fast Friends in Atlanta 

Contact Mr. Venkatagiri at info@indousabiz.com for the full list of delegates and their companies. Visit www.transatlanticsales.com for more information about the Transatlantic Sales. 

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...