Being Fearless in In the Global Marketplace

Being Fearless in In the Global Marketplace

An International Women’s Day Exclusive Interview

We are very proud of the global businesswomen we work with at Export Delaware. In honor of International Women’s Day, we sat down with Sandra Burton of Linne Industries. Sandra Burton’s career has taken her around the world. She traveled to Asia to explore alternative energy solutions and educated foreign leaders on the benefits of solar power. Throughout her travels, Burton learned to be “fearless!” This courageous spirit helped her as she launched her own venture with her husband, Linne Industries.

In 2013, Sandra Burton and her husband, Craig, built a solar-powered aerator for a pond in their backyard. They realized this invention – the Pond Hawk® – and its unique technologies could have a positive impact on the environment. They set out to build a company around it, and now the Pond Hawk® can be found from coast to coast in the US, Ontario, Canada and even Seoul, South Korea.

Burton is no stranger to international work and travel. Early in her career, she worked for Hawiaii Electric Company (HECO). As a young professional at the time, Burton admits that traveling to Hawaii brought her out of her comfort zone! But her career was destined to bring her further around the world as she championed clean energy solutions. While working for the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), she traveled to Japan with utility executives to learn about innovation in renewable and alternative energy sources. Burton also spent some time in Southeast Asia.

She went on to launch the solar education program from the Government of Brunei. Eventually, she moved to Delaware, where she helped Governor Minner draft the state’s solar regulations. She worked for several big solar startups before finally launching Linne Industries.

“We developed the system to solve a problem in our backyard,” says Burton. “We realized we had something unique!” As a startup, she worked hard to bring the invention to market and share it with the world. A state-led business trip to Canada was presented to her, and she jumped on the opportunity to bring the Pond Hawk north.


Overcoming International Barriers and Roadblocks

Moving products across borders can be challenging. “Even with Canada, there are complications,” says Burton. With premium products like the Pond Hawk, sometimes the exchange rate is not favorable, and the products cost too much for potential customers in Canada. “We’ve tried to overcome this by having a stronger product than anyone else,” says Burton.

On the trip, Burton participated in one-on-one business meetings with vetted potential customers. Export Delaware and the team international trade rep in Canada coordinated all the trip’s logistics. “You guys helped with trip organization and interpersonal human aspects of doing international trade,” says Burton. “That is really important to helping businesses break into new markets.”

Burton is proud to say they now have Pond Hawk systems in Ontario, Canada!


Burton GSCAA Show Floor 2024


Take the Leap

It can be intimidating to travel halfway around the world and have meetings with people who speak a different language than you. Navigating busy cities where street signs are in a different language is not for the faint of heart! “You’ve got to be a little fearless!” says Burton.


“You’ve got to be a little fearless!”


When she first moved to Hawaii, Burton admits, “At the time it felt like a big leap!” It was so different than life on the mainland. However, as her career took her to more remote locations, traveling became easier each time.

She recommends taking the time to find good trade partners who are familiar with the country. Trade missions or state-led business trips are an excellent way to get your feet wet. “When I worked at SEPA, I traveled with a group on a trade mission to Japan,” Burton admits. That took some of the pressure off herself. She recommends working with Export Delaware or business groups who do this type of group travel or trade missions. “These group trips offer you all the experience but the security of a reputable guide. Plus, the camaraderie gained with other business leaders on the trip is priceless.”

On state-led business trips with Export Delaware, participants are provided hands-on support, including interpreters who accompany them to each meeting and personal drivers who ensure they get to the right meeting location on time. That takes some of the stress out of traveling!

Burton is looking forward to traveling to Asia and other parts of the world again. “We are back in full-on travel mode! Multiple people from Japan, and Canada are interested in our product. We will be headed back to Canada soon!”

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