Bartering an alternative for businesses

Barter king Tom McDowell with one of five Rolls Royce cars that he has bartered for during his 30 years of experience as a trader. Ken Mengay/Special to the Daily News

Ken Mengay

Barter king Tom McDowell with one of five Rolls Royce cars that he has bartered for during his 30 years of experience as a trader. Ken Mengay/Special to the Daily News

Daily News correspondent

Trading, swapping or bartering are options for businesses in today's challenging economy.

Such methods have been around since ancient times, and clever businesses have found bartering a useful tool from people like Tom McDowell.

McDowell, who has some 30 years of experience with Naples entrepreneurs, owns ATX Barter Co. that he began in Ohio.

McDowell offers a three-day in-person training seminar, "Launch Your Own Highly Profitable Trade Exchange."

"A barter exchange serves as a bank of sorts, establishing a currency or unit of payment called a trade dollar, thus eliminating the limitations of one-to-one direct barter transactions," said McDowell, who lives part of the year in Naples.

"By accepting payment in trade dollars instead of cash, a business maximizes their efficiency by increasing inventory turnover or billable hours. Using the trade dollars earned, that company purchases goods or services they want, without paying cash."

His barter training program is designed to show participants how to parlay basic principles in the art of bartering into a business he says will generate an excellent income in a cash-strapped economy.

McDowell teaches attendees to navigate barter software, set up a viable website and use creative marketing materials to reach potential new business customers.

He also teaches attendees how to become a cash-generating barter consultant.

McDowell said the barter business reaps benefits such as immediate income potential from numerous residual income sources. It also has a short selling cycle and is a recession-proof industry with an unlimited territory.

McDowell also offers other post-training assistance such as website building, marketing materials, business and record-keeping software and personal consultation.

Regarding competition, he said that on average, 25 percent of trade exchange members belong to more than one of the 350 exchanges nationwide and there's room for another 2,500 exchanges.

For the past 20 years, McDowell has taught more than 150 seminars at industry conventions and has trained more than 40 startups worldwide.

During his years as an exchange owner trading over $130 million, some of McDowell's barter transactions have included those that netted construction materials for an office building and five Rolls-Royce cars.

Using the Internet to reach global markets, McDowell also offers his training program to businesses via webinars sessions that cost $2,295.

Another web barter guru, Sarasota-based IBE Barter Director Mary J. Unger, has been serving the barter community for 21 years. She educates local Suncoast Businesses on the economics of barter and helps businesses to build and grow their companies using the IBE currency, or what she terms the modern alternative currency.

Unger offers her IBE Barter 101 Webinar Series online; the next scheduled from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday (register at facebook.com/barterworks or call 941-955-6100, ext. 101).

IBE members have reciprocal barter exchange relationships across the country at 500,000 locations.

Donahue B. Silvis Inc. in Naples has been operating his ITEX franchise since 1995 with 170 local business members that at one point swelled to 300. The franchise is part of the national ITEX Corp.

Business has been so fantastic, Silvis said, that he also purchased franchises in Denver and Los Angeles. ITEX is an American company that provides a marketplace for cashless business transactions.

Through bartering, one of Silvis' barter members recently spent three weeks in a villa in Spain – a trip purchased with barter dollars.

After he purchased his franchise, Silvis began bartering the services of his own chemical company and carpet cleaning business for volume advertising space.

Ads made his company appear large and capable and it attracted a major hotel customer that hired his cleaning services and later purchased his chemicals.

With bartering, Silvis said, businesses can increase cash flow, attract a new customer base and expand by moving product and excess inventory without having to discount them.

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