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  July 11th, 2018 | Written by


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United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross commenced the nation’s annual World Trade Week on May 21 by honoring 43 top American companies and organizations that either export American goods and services or assist other businesses in selling goods abroad.

Recognition of the honorees at the 49th annual President’s Export Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., marked a victory for President Trump and his administration, as the Commander-in-Chief campaigned heavily on job creation back in 2016. In May–the same month of the Export Awards ceremony—the jobless rate tumbled from 4.1 percent to 3.9 percent, the lowest numbers since December 2000.

This year’s award recipients contributed toward exporting more than $2 trillion of American goods and services in 2017 alone—and those exports subsequently supported nearly 11 million U.S. jobs. According to the Brookings Institute, a record 85 percent of economic growth over the next five years is expected to come from exports. Leaders like those selected for the President’s Export Awards can hopefully help lead the way for other businesses.

Introduced by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, the President’s Export Awards (or “E” awards, the “E” being for exports) have become a longstanding tradition in Washington.


Applied Membranes Inc.

The Vista, California, company manufactures reverse-osmosis water filtration systems, membranes and components for use in commercial and residential applications. Founded in 1983 by Dr. Gil Dhawan, Applied Membranes systems have been used in 20,000 installations around the globe. Applied Membranes prides itself on its ability to offer flexible, customized solutions to suit even the most complex water treatment needs.

Automated Packaging Systems

With locations around the globe, including 10 in the U.S., Streetsboro, Ohio-based Automated Packaging Systems currently has more than 30,000 packaging systems in operation across the planet. Inventors of the original Autobag brand pre-opened bag, the company was founded in 1962 in a modest garage in Queens, New York. Today, it manufactures more bags-on-a-roll bagging systems than all of its competitors combined.

Beekley Medical

Founded by F. Cheney Beekley in 1934, the company began as a printing and lithograph press in Hartford, Connecticut. Today, Beekley Medical and two related companies fall under the Bristol-based Beekley Corp. umbrella. In the 84 years since Beekley first opened his business, it has become an innovator in the medical products field, helping doctors and patients have more positive clinical outcomes.

Colorado Mesa University, International Student Admissions and Programs

The Grand Junction, Colorado, university’s International Student Admissions and Programs department was honored with a President’s Export Award thanks to its tireless efforts to attract international students to the campus founded in 1925 that boasts 11,000+ students. With programs ranging from technical certificates all the way up to master’s degrees, CMU offers nearly 100 undergraduate programs and more than 40 associates degree and certificate programs, including Business/Commerce, Biology/Biological Sciences and Criminal Justice/ Safety Studies.

Colorado State University

The Fort Collins, Colorado-based university also received an “E” Award for emphasizing exporting education and ramped-up recruitment of international students. That population’s enrollment has increased for the past 11 years straight, increasing by 126 percent in the past decade. Currently, CSU has 1,995 international students, who President Tony Frank credits with helping to expand the cultural and intellectual lexicon on campus.

CoreBrace LLC

The West Jordan-based company has the honor of being the first President’s Export Award winner from Utah. Designers and manufacturers of custom-built Buckling Restrained Braces (BRBs) for use in the construction of buildings which need additional protection from cyclical later loadings, such as loadings caused by earthquakes, CoreBrace was recognized for increasing employment by more than 300 percent to support its booming export business.


Daniel Walsh and John Thompson developed the EXEPRON project management platform to solve a problem they faced frequently in their 20-plus years of management consulting. Using a cloud-computing platform, the pair created a “collaborative scheduling solution” that allows users to seamlessly manage resources using “virtual, real-time, global collaboration.” Lafayette, Louisiana-based EXEPRON was honored with the “E” Award due to its impressive export sales and dedication to expanding exports, thereby creating American jobs.

Flexo Concepts

Manufacturers of doctor blades used in offset and flexographic printers, the Plymouth, Massachusetts-based company received an “E” award for rapid global growth that contributed to the export job market. President Greg Howell and CEO Kevin Howell have worked tirelessly to introduce to foreign markets the TruPoint line, which Flexo acquired in 2001. In April, the Massachusetts Small Business Association named Flexo Concepts the “2018 Exporter of the Year,” thanks to the company’s exporting prowess.

Fortune Products Inc.

Manufacturers of the Accusharp line of knife and tool sharpeners, the company based in the Austin, Texas, suburb of Cedar Park was founded in 1984. The “E” Award comes for the company’s impressive export sales to multiple industries across 64 countries. That has helped expand employment at the business by 65 percent.

Global Airtech

Founded in 1989, the company provides the commercial aviation industry with supply chain logistics, asset management and round-the-clock AOG (aircraft on ground) support. Based in Van Nuys, California, Global Airtech has client support offices in China, India, Thailand and elsewhere in the United States. The full-service aircraft parts supplier’s support staff is trained extensively in dealing with freight forwarders, global delivery couriers and customs clearance associates.

GT Mfg. Inc.

Since their humble beginnings in 1953, the Clay Center, Kansas-based company has become a leader in the batch grain dryer manufacturing industry, a market it continues to dominate. You can now find GT grain dryers in 83 different countries and on six different continents. That’s amazing when you consider that, several decades ago, GT’s founder and owner Jim Sampson was ready to throw in the towel before throwing a hail Mary, aggressively pursuing the export of his products around the world. The move that paid off big time for the small operation that was named the Kansas SBA Exporter of the Year in 2014 and State of Kansas Exporter of the Year in 2016.

GTX Technologies LLC

Founded by the Ghana-born Dr. Norbert Chirase in 2007, the Amarillo, Texas-based company develops and distributes humic (organic) substances for use in such organic products as cattle feed, lawn and garden food and soil remediation. With a staff of fewer than 10 employees, Chirase has been able to expand GTX Technologies product sales around the globe, raising the U.S. export industry in the process.

Helicopter Tech Inc.

President and CEO Rachel Carson founded the woman-owned small business (WOSB) in 1995 to fill a gap in the aviation industry, providing thousands of aircraft parts to customers who may not have a lot of time to wait for special orders. To do this, the King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based company works with subcontractors to create the parts and deliver them to customers through Helicopter Tech’s integrated supply-chain management process. In a recent interview with the International Trade Commission, Carson explained that the ability to export parts to places like Australia during the slower months in the U.S. has enabled Helicopter Tech to maintain steady work when normally there might be lags.

iTEP International LLC

The creator of the globally renown International Test of English Proficiency (iTEP), the Canoga Park, California-based company earned the “E” Award for its suite of online language assessment products. Founded in 2008, iTEP testing has quickly become a leader in English-language assessment examinations as it is now used in 51 countries by schools, businesses and even governments. The biggest international market for iTEP is China, where there are more than 100 testing centers and additional partnerships with numerous educational institutions.


A leading publisher of flight navigation charts since 1934, the Englewood, Colorado-based company’s charts are now so widely used in the aviation industry that they are affectionately referred to as “Jepp charts.” Founded by pilot Elrey Borge Jeppesen, the company’s earliest charts were made on paper. Though he never intended to sell his handmade navigation charts, colleagues began to take notice of the detail and accuracy and requested Jeppesen make them copies. As legend has it, Jeppesen began selling copies of his personal flight book for just $10, and a company was born. Despite paper navigation charts falling by the wayside in favor of electronic charts, Jeppesen is still considered the gold-standard in flight charts.

Kira Labs Inc.

Founded by David Rosen in 2003, the Pompano Beach, Florida, company today manufactures and vertically markets more than 15 all-natural, cruelty-free skincare brands around the world. But Kira Labs wasn’t always a powerhouse; it wasn’t until Rosen started thinking globally that the business really took off. Armed with a detailed export marketing plan, he was able to grow from a modest 10 employees to more than 60 within a few short years. Products from Florida’s 2017 Exporter of the Year are currently available as far away as Russia and South Korea.

Maxxess Systems

The Yorba Linda, California-based company manufactures adaptable security management systems that meet the unique needs of modern businesses. The company prides itself on being able provide customers with peace of mind by offering operational management systems at reasonable prices. Maxxess Systems can be customized to meet most business needs right out of the box, allowing for third-third party integration solutions.

Mercury Medical

A veteran-owned small business (VOSB), the Clearwater, Florida-based company was founded by Stanley G. Tangalakis in 1963. Since then, Mercury Medical has earned a reputation for delivering and manufacturing innovative airway management devices that are exported to nearly 80 countries around the world. The “E” Award recognizes Mercury Medical’s expanded operations globally and notably cultivating lifesaving, legal business relations with customers in Iran.

Micronova Manufacturing Inc.

The Torrance, California-based, woman-owned business designs, manufactures and sells medical cleanroom supplies. Founder Audrey Reynolds started Micronova Manufacturing in 1984 to address the needs of the rapidly growing biotech, aerospace and semiconductor facilities that were springing up in the area.

Today, her company produces a variety of cleanroom supplies, including cleanroom tapes, the MicroDispenser, wipes, detergents and more.

PDI Ground Support Systems

Founded in 1962 as Prototype Development Incorporated, the Solon, Ohio-based company has earned a global reputation for designing and manufacturing weapons handlings systems and ground support equipment for U.S. military establishments and 45 allied forces around the globe. PDI Ground Support Systems specializes in munitions handling, assembly, shipping and counter-measure transport modules, often working with manufacturers of electronic smart-weapon test systems. The suburban Ohio company was the 2017 U.S. Small Business Association Exporter of the Year for Region V.

Phenix Technology Inc.

When Ronny Coleman and Ray Russell founded Phenix Technology Inc. in 1972, they were passionate about fire helmets and fire safety. They had become friends four years earlier after bonding over their shared hobby of collecting antique fire helmets from around the globe. But Coleman and Ross had something else in common: Both were fire chiefs who understood the importance of safety gear. They decided to build a better fire helmet, together investing in an injection molding unit. Forty-two years later, the Riverside, California-based company still manufactures fire helmets not only for U.S. clients but for first-responders around the world. The Phenix Technology team also helps other businesses expand into foreign markets.

Santa Monica College

The public community college was founded in Santa Monica, California, in 1929, when 153 souls comprised the entire student body. Today, Santa Monica College boasts 30,000 students annually, with notable alumni including former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and legendary actor James Dean. The “E” Award recognizes the junior college’s international student recruitment and opportunities created for underserved students. The 3,400 students from more than 100 countries ranks Santa Monica College second for the most international community college students in the nation.


The Irvine, California, company provides Fortune 1000 companies with enterprise-class technology solutions that are custom fit to each business’ individual needs, using American-made products in the process. Technologent provides client solutions to issues such as data center infrastructure, automation, security and cloud computing. From 10 locations around the U.S., Technologent provides services to clients in 25 countries around the world.

United Franchise Group

For over 30 years, the West Palm Beach, Florida-based company has offered unique franchising business opportunities to entrepreneurs around the world. It has helped more than 1,400 franchisees in 17 global markets achieve their financial goals through United Franchise Group’s leadership and guidance. CEO Ray Titus began his franchising career in 1987 with the Farmingdale, New York, business Signarama, which is now the world’s largest sign franchise with more than 800 locations in 62 countries. In 2006, Signarama became the first franchise to receive an “E” Award.

World Business Capital Inc.

The Hartford, Connecticut-based regulated commercial finance company provides flexible term loans to small-to-midsize businesses to help them stay competitive with other businesses on a global scale. Founded in 2003, WBC has gone on to help businesses in 14 markets across the globe, successfully closing loans in the U.S., Mexico, Europe, Asia and elsewhere.


Alabama Department of Commerce

With the help of the Alabama Department of Commerce, the state has seen its exports grow by an impressive 50 percent over the past 10 years. Working in conjunction with the Export Alabama Alliance, the Montgomery-based Department of Commerce has worked tirelessly to seek out new Alabama-made products to export to the global marketplace.

CohnReznick LLP

Founded in 1919, CohnReznick LLP is now the 11th-largest public accounting firm in the U.S., employing more than 2,400 people in 26 offices around the world, including its New York City headquarters. CohnReznick earned an “E” Award for Export Service for its dedication to protecting its clients’ assets when exporting to foreign markets. CohnReznick was also selected for providing clients with additional support and education about recognizing export opportunities.

Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce

The chamber’s team of experts were recognized for their direct support to exporters in Irvine, California. The Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce even developed an International Development Committee to specifically assist exporters. It also facilitated trade opportunities between member-businesses within Orange County, California, the United Kingdom and Canada. The Chamber also provides export services for small to medium-sized businesses in their jurisdiction by generating Certificates of Origin and Certificates of Free Sale, as well as offering export counseling and member education for exporters.

First American Bank of Elk Grove

The privately-owned bank headquartered in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, is dedicated to increasing exports for its customers, providing education and resources that extend even to competing lenders so they may make informed decisions in the export field. First American Bank’s Trade Finance Division provides investors a suite of loan, document and foreign exchange services.

First National Bank of Pittsburgh

One of just two banks to receive the “E” Award for Export Service, First National Bank of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was recognized for its efforts to increase its international finance portfolio via exports, as well as its ability to track its customers’ employment growth in correlation to their export growth. The bank, which was founded in 1864, takes pride in helping customers expand their growth through exports via a comprehensive suite of international banking services. First National Bank owns the proprietary FXOnline platform that allows customers to always have real-time foreign exchange information at their fingertips.

FTC Commercial Corp.

FTC Commercial Corp. was founded more than 10 years ago in Los Angeles, California, by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs—specifically to fund startups in the fashion and consumer products industries. Today, in addition to those businesses, FTC Commercial Corp. finances public entities and global businesses, teaming up with the International Trade Commission to promote exports among American businesses. To date, FTC has sponsored businesses that have gone on to gross more than $30 million in sales.

National Marine Manufacturers Association

Since 1979, the National Marine Manufacturers Association has been a staunch advocate of marine manufacturing, sales and service in the United States. The Chicago, Illinois-based advocates also act as public policy experts at the state and federal levels, promoting recreational boating and seeking opportunities for overseas business, including helping members protect themselves from a shifting economy.

Phillips Lytle LLP

The Buffalo, New York, law firm assists clients in many aspects of financial law, including export services for small and medium-sized businesses. This includes joint ventures, international tax issues, mergers and acquisitions, entity formation, intellectual property and compliance counseling. But Phillips Lytle LLP stood out from the pack for the “E” Awards committee because of its dedication to participating in and providing exporter education programs for local businesses.

Silicon Valley Venture Capital Corp.

Located in the Silicon Valley city of Milpitas, California, and doing business as Global4PL, the leading fourth-party logistics supply-chain solutions provider helps tech companies break into emerging markets and simplify global operations. Global4PL works hand-in-hand with clients, helping them to avoid common pratfalls. The “E” Award recognizes Global4PL’s dedication in protecting clients’ best interests and educating exporters so that they are empowered to learn the laws and protect themselves.


The President’s Export Star Award for Exports and Export Star Award for Export Service are granted to previous Export/Export Service award winners who have maintained an increase in business volume for four consecutive years following their initial “E” Award wins. What follows is a rundown of 2018 winners.


  • Allied Wire & Cable Inc. of Collegeville, Pennsylvania
  • American Trading International Inc. of Los Angeles, California
  • Durbin USA of Ocean Springs, Missouri
  • Heavy Equipment Resources of Florida Inc. (HERO FL) of Jacksonville, Florida
  • Gamber-Johnson LLC of Stevens Point, Wisconsin
  • Hydro-Thermal Corp. of Waukesha, Wisconsin
  • Kuder Inc. of Adel, Iowa
  • Orgill Inc. of Collierville, Tennessee


  • Specialty Equipment Market Association (SMEA) of Diamond Bar, California