Gov. Kay Ivey recognized eight Alabama companies for success in selling their goods and services in countries around the globe.

Winners of the 2018 Governor’s Trade Excellence Awards represent a diverse swath of the state’s business landscape, including high-tech manufacturers, innovative software developers and a craft beer brewer. They were honored at a ceremony at the State Capitol.

“Today we celebrate the ingenuity and dedication of Alabama business leaders who know that commerce doesn’t end at our state’s borders,” Ivey said. “Their vision to be international leaders in their respective fields is most impressive, and we look forward to their continued efforts in overseas markets.”

The governor also acknowledged that all of the winners are small businesses, a pillar of Alabama’s economy.

“Small business is big business in the state of Alabama,” she said. “Small businesses employ more than 772,000 people, nearly half of Alabama’s workforce, in more than 380,000 establishments. Their importance cannot be understated.”

Eight Alabama small businesses that have made an impact overseas were honored with the 2018 Governor’s Trade Excellence Award. (contributed)

Here is the full list of this year’s winners:

  • Back Forty Beer Co., Gadsden, was founded in 2009 to bring top-quality craft beer to northeast Alabama and now brews almost 20 brands with distribution in five states. In addition, the brewery exported beer to China, Canada, Malaysia and The Netherlands in 2016-2017.
  • Conversant Bio, Huntsville, is a human tissue procurement company that provides Institutional Review Board-approved samples to researchers working on cures for the world’s most prominent diseases. Conversant exports to 21 countries and has worked on more than 3,000 research projects.
  • Diamond Fortress Technologies Inc., Birmingham, became the first company to successfully develop a mobile touchless fingerprint biometrics software solution. It exports to countries including Mexico, Pakistan, Colombia, India, Australia, Sweden and South Africa. A DFT subsidiary also promotes banking and other financial services in lower and lower-middle income countries as defined by the World Bank.
  • Douglas Manufacturing, Pell City, is a leading manufacturer of conveyor components and engineered conveying solutions. The company’s primary export markets are North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean, serving industries that include pulp and paper, steel, chemical, cement, coal, fertilizer, biofuel, oil and natural gas, and agriculture.
  • Irrigation Components International Inc., Daphne, is the world’s leader in center pivot spare parts sales. ICII has been providing irrigation parts to dealers, distributors and OEMs for more than 30 years. It serves more than 35 countries worldwide.
  • Keet Consulting Services LLC, Pelham, has been serving the geographic information systems industry since 1999, with export markets that include Australia, Canada, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. The company provides a wide range of services, including application development, GIS implementation and RouteMan, which is sold internationally and helps companies manage route delivery and route sales.
  • North Alabama International Trade Association, Huntsville, is a business-driven nonprofit membership organization committed to increasing activity in international trade in North Alabama for the past 35 years. The organization is managed by and partners with the Madison County Commission International Trade Development Center.
  • Regitar USA Inc., Montgomery, is a major manufacturer and distributor of automotive electronics, power tools and mobile safety products. It exports around the world, with primary emphasis on North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

Founder and CEO Jason Wilson says Back Forty Beer Co. is right at home in Gadsden even as it expands into a global brand. (Bernard Troncale/Alabama NewsCenter)

‘Alabama SBDC Day’

During the ceremony, Ivey also recognized the Alabama Small Business Development Center, which helped more than 3,000 small businesses last year. In the past five years, the Alabama SBDC program has helped small businesses create more than 4,800 jobs and access more than $368 million in new capital.

Hosted at the University of Alabama, the Alabama SBDC partners with eight other universities in Alabama, in a network that leverages university expertise from the respective colleges of business to provide management and technical assistance to small businesses.

The governor issued a proclamation designating March 21 as “Alabama SBDC Day.” The organization has 30 professional business advisers who cover all 67 Alabama counties from 10 field offices.

“The SBDC is a strong resource partner for the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Office of International Trade and its Office of Small Business Advocacy,” Ivey said. “It also works closely with ADECA’s Small Business Credit Initiative. In addition, the University of Alabama’s International Trade Center helps companies that are new to exporting learn how to become successful exporters like our award winners and to take advantage of the Alabama Department of Commerce’s trade expansion programs.”

Irrigation Components International of Daphne has been providing irrigation parts to dealers, distributors and OEMs for more than 30 years. It serves more than 35 countries worldwide. (contributed)

Export benefits

Alabama’s exports climbed to a record $21.7 billion in 2017, with automobiles, aircraft components, chemicals, paper and minerals fueling the increase.

“Exporting is a driving force of Alabama’s economy, which benefits in the form of new jobs and investments for those exporters here at home,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “We congratulate today’s winners and are preparing to help them and other companies increase their global sales plans this coming year.”

Pell City’s Douglas Manufacturing is a leading manufacturer of conveyor components and engineered conveying solutions. The company’s primary export markets are North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. (contributed)

Hilda Lockhart, director of Commerce’s Office of International Trade, said this year’s award winners are models for peers that may be looking to follow a similar path in exporting their goods and services overseas.

“Each of these companies is driven by a desire to compete on the global stage, and their creativity, hard work and strategic planning have helped them achieve those goals,” she said.

This story via Alabama NewsCenter.

Dawn Azok for Made in Alabama | © 2018, alabamanewscenter.com

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