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Export Success

Ford Motor Company: An Exporting Powerhouse

  • April 14, 2015

Forty years ago, nearly all Americans purchased their cars from three, or perhaps four, manufacturers, all based in the U.S. Foreign manufacturers were just beginning to show signs of growth. There was competition among the major automakers in those days, but nothing like today, where more than a dozen carmakers compete aggressively in the market.

Data published on April 1, 2015 by the Wall Street Journal showed U.S. market share as follows: General Motors at 16.2 percent; Ford with 15.2 percent; Toyota at 14.6 percent; Chrysler at 12.5 percent; Nissan with 9.4 percent; and Honda at 8.2 percent. While those six manufacturers accounted for about three-quarters of the market, a large number of other brands divided the remaining quarter of sales.

While Ford was second on that list, the company is pleased with its position in the global marketplace. Ford is an exporting powerhouse, having shipped 370,000 to 400,000  automobiles from the U.S. in recent years. From 2009, in the depths of the recession, to early 2014, its exports rose by 50 percent.

Yet, it was not until early 2015 that Ford began exporting Mustangs. Produced by 3,000 employees working two shifts in the Flat Rock, Michigan plant, the Mustangs will eventually be shipped to 100 different markets. Ford Trading Company has added 100 jobs in Portland in part to facilitate shipping these vehicles to Asia. European-bound Mustangs will ship from Maryland.

As with all auto exports, Ford will certify that the Mustangs meet requirements in the markets of end-use, and will complete necessary customs documentation.

Ford has had some success exporting to China, the nation that accounts for an outsized share of the U.S. trade deficit. In 2014, Ford sent 9,000 Ford Explorers to China from a plant in Chicago.

Ford believes that the proposed TransPacific Partnership trade agreement is important to securing a fair playing field for international trade, and combating foreign currency manipulation. The company says that currency manipulation in certain Asian nations makes U.S.-made goods less competitive in the global marketplace, a view that is fairly broadly shared among business leaders, labor unions, and even many policymakers.

While continuing to seek improvements in public policy, Ford has shown every indication it will continue to be aggressive in pursuing growth of its U.S. exports.

Hannay Reels: Fourth Generation Now Leading Respected Small Manufacturer in Upstate New York

  • April 14, 2015

Back in the 1980s, Hannay Reels received their first international order. It came from an agricultural business in the country of Columbia, and arrived by fax. That was the opening chapter of the company’s story as an exporter. Today, more than a quarter of Hannay’s business is international.

Hannay makes reels used for industrial hoses and cables. The company, based in Westerlo, New York (near Albany), has been making reels in 1933. They produce 80,000 reels a year, all made to order. Some of the largest reels can weigh 4,000 pounds or more. The reels are used in industrial, mining, fire suppression, energy, maritime, and power washing applications. The company has more than 150 employees, some of whom have been with Hannay for many years.

In 2012, Eric Hannay and Elaine Hannay Gruener became the fourth generation of the family to lead the business. Roger Hannay, having turned age 70, moved from CEO to Chairman. It was under his leadership that exports became a significant source of business – and a cushion when the recent recession reduced domestic demand.

In turn, the company has resumed growth the last several years, thanks to the diversity of its customer base and the advent of fracking in Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, which has resulted in more orders for reels for the energy sector.

Roger Hannay has been very involved in the National Association of Manufacturers, with the goal of advocating public policies that make the U.S. a good place to do business, especially for small manufacturers. He has served several terms on the association’s board of directors.

In 2014, he also received the Corning Award for Excellence from the Business Council of New York State. The award honors leaders from all walks of life who share the overriding values of achievement and commitment, according to the Council, which is an association of businesses and chambers of commerce in the Empire State. Hannay demonstrated an unwavering commitment to making New York a better state for its residents, the Council noted.

Growth in sales in recent years confirmed Hannay Reels’ decision to move forward with an $800,000 expansion project, which has provided a new 10-ton crane, a drive-through delivery dock, and more floor space for manufacturing.

Communities count themselves fortunate when companies like Hannay Reels are present. Small manufacturers like Hannay, as primary industries, help generate wealth and diversify the economy and the tax base. They provide quality jobs and give back to the community. Hannay Reels has been doing exactly that for more than 80 years.

Manhasset Specialty Company: Music Manufacturer Benefits from Ex-Im Bank

  • April 1, 2015

Based in Yakima, Washington, Manhasset Specialty Company has been designing and manufacturing concert-style music stands and accessories since 1935. The employee-owned business takes its name from Manhasset, New York, where the small manufacturer was originally founded. All of its products are made in America, and they are known for meticulous quality.

In the late 1990s, the firm decided it was time to get serious about exporting its products to distributors abroad. It was a challenge, since Manhasset’s products were largely unknown in many other parts of the world. Foreign wholesale customers were hesitant to buy products in quantities without credit terms. Also, since shipping costs for small orders are relatively higher than for large orders, Manhasset found that if their products were not shipped in full containers, the shipping costs became another obstacle to breaking into new markets.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) has helped Manhasset solve this problem. Like many small manufacturers, Manhasset relies on the Bank for insurance. It enables the company to offer competitive credit to international buyers and cuts the risk of nonpayment, by providing protection of 95 percent of credit. Manhasset’s foreign buyers have never defaulted, but the manufacturer could not have afforded the credit risk without this insurance.



Congress periodically is required to renew the Bank’s charter, and that has become a contentious issue. The Bank’s advocates point to Manhasset Specialty Company, and other manufacturers of all sizes, as reasons that the Bank is a win-win for U.S. taxpayers and manufacturers.

Thanks to its success in penetrating foreign markets, it now uses the tagline: “The World is Our Stage.” The company also makes stand carts (which make it easy to move multiple stands), drummer stands (which allow a drummer to read music without turning his or her head away from the drums), LED-lit music stands, and wide-desk stands. The year 2015 marks the company’s 80th anniversary.

Jim Kanicki of Arthur Louis Steel Company: From NFL Football to Steel Manufacturing

  • March 5, 2014

Jim Kanicki knows a thing or two about tough competition. A native of Michigan, the 270-pound Kanicki spent nine years in the trenches as a defensive tackle in the National Football League for the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants. He was a member of the 1964 Browns team that won the NFL championship, and was named one of the 100 greatest players in Browns history.

When it was time for a second career, it was not surprising that the Michigan State University product looked at manufacturing, since his father had worked at a foundry in Saginaw, Michigan. The younger Kanicki went to work for the Arthur Louis Steel Company, and since 1985, he has owned the company, which is based in Ashtabula, Ohio, a city on the shore of Lake Erie, east of Cleveland. The building materials manufacturing firm was founded in the 1940s and has several dozen employees.

In effect, Kanicki traded the fierce of competition of NFL action for the intense, global competition inherent in manufacturing. The Arthur Louis Steel Company has served customers in 42 states and 17 countries.

One of their specialties is structural steel fabrication for industrial facilities up to 2,000 tons, with column lengths up to 95 feet. Another is fabrication of steel platforms, stairs, ladders, handrails, and safety gates. Others include large-dimension bents for rigging and lifting operations. The company has a design-engineer-build division for projects such as warehouses, office buildings, and equipment support structures.

A focus on product quality and meeting deadlines has led to growth for the business. The Ashtabula plant expanded as much as possible, and in 1998, the company began operations at a second plant in nearby Geneva, Ohio. Thanks to a 2013 grant from the State of Ohio and a matching investment by Arthur Louis Steel, a brownfield area adjacent to the Geneva plant will undergo soil cleanup, allowing further expansion and the creation of more jobs. The estimated cost of the project is $388,000.

The company remains a family-owned business, and Kanicki has found manufacturing to be a fulfilling and rewarding profession.

SASCO Chemical: Export-Promotion Programs Can Help Drive Exports

  • January 2, 2014

Achieving success in exporting does not come easy, and sometimes hard work alone does not yield desired results. One business that can testify to that truth is SASCO Chemical, a third-generation, family-owned company in Albany, Georgia, that makes mold-release and anti-tack products for the rubber industry. After modest success in exporting for a number of years, in 2010-2011, their exports to Mexico suddenly surged by 2,800%.

What was the key to their rapid success? It was the realization that government export-promotion programs can go a long way in helping to participate in the right trade shows, make the most helpful contacts, find the right representatives, and convert foreign prospects into customers.

In the case of SASCO, the company began working closely with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service. It credits those agencies with playing pivotal roles in helping SASCO become a successful exporter. So successful, in fact, that it has been honored by the Governor’s office and its story has been told in prominent magazines like Global Trade and Industry Week.

The scope of export programs varies from state to state, but manufacturers should not simply assume that their state economic development office focuses only on site selection and business expansion projects. SASCO, in fact, learned about Georgia’s expansive export-assistance programs only when consulting with state officials about expanding their manufacturing plant.

The U.S. Foreign Commercial Service is a Commerce Department program that has experts stationed both within and in, at last count, about 75 foreign countries, for the express purpose of helping U.S. companies succeed in exporting. They work with first-time exporters, and companies like SASCO, that wish to ramp up an existing export program, as well as with seasoned exporters. Information can be found at

Aspiring exporters should know that they are not alone on the journey. Manufacturers like SASCO Chemical will attest to the value of consulting with state and federal export-assistance experts.

Vitamix: Rugged Quality, Commitment to Healthy Diets, and Export Success Fuel Global Business

  • November 29, 2013

As increased information becomes available about the benefits of healthy diets, more people are turning to blenders to create their own whole-food juices, soups, and smoothies. Consumers by the thousands have learned the hard way that not all kitchen blenders are created equally. A number of the products on the market are prone to jamming or breaking.

Product quality sets Vitamix apart. This manufacturer, which is based in Olmsted Township, Ohio, just west of Cleveland, has been selling kitchen products since 1921 and making blenders since 1937. It is a leader in blending technology, and has developed high-quality blenders that have the versatility and durability to stand up to the challenges of the whole-foods era. The firm now has several hundred employees who make and ship hundreds of thousands of products each year.

Vitamix is now a fourth-generation family business that has, since the beginning, been an advocate for healthy diets. In 1969, the company president unveiled the Vitamix 3600, the first blender that could make soup, blend ice cream, grind grain, and knead bread dough. His wife created hundreds of recipes for healthy and tasty foods that could be made with the Vitamix. The firm added a commercial blender for the foodservice industry to its product mix in 1985. Vitamix can also perform service on machines up to 20 years old, pending the availability of parts.

The company learned early on that they key to selling its products is getting people to see demonstrations. That is why you may well have seen Vitamix being demonstrated in a store in your community or on television (they have been on television, in fact, since 1949).

If product quality and durability sets Vitamix apart from its competition, its success in the global marketplace helps make it a Great Manufacturing Story. Vitamix products are now available in more than 100 countries, from Antigua to Vietnam.

That wasn’t always the case, of course. When Jodi Berg joined the family business in 1997, Vitamix was primarily a domestic business, and her mission was to make it an international company. She visited 13 countries that year, some of them multiple times (while also planning her wedding). In doing so, she drew on her background as a certified quality auditor and a director of quality and training for Ritz-Carlton.

As she explains an in article in Cleveland Business Connects, their goal was not to grow quickly, but rather to ensure the same product quality and customer experience in each market they penetrated. That focus meant saying “no” to traditional export companies, and fostering a slower, more personal approach in which it cultivates relationships, and articulates specific expectations, from its distributors. The success internationally has been dynamic. Former Commerce Secretary Gary Locke bestowed the E Award for exporting success on the company in 2010. In 2012, the firm won a Kitchen Innovations award from the National Restaurant Association, as well. Moreover, Berg went on to become the company's president, ensuring its continued dedication to its founding principles as it meets the needs of health-conscious customers.

French USA: Exports as a Long-Term Business Strategy

  • October 11, 2013

dewatering systems

Exporting has long been a key part of the business strategy at French Oil Mill Machinery Company, based in Piqua, Ohio. The manufacturer received the Presidential E Award in 1984 and the E Star Award in 2012. The E awards recognize major contributions to the expansion of U.S. exports. In 2013, the company took first place in the Dayton Business Journal manufacturing awards.

But the company first began exporting in 1905, when it shipped products to Canada and Europe. Today, exports constitute nearly two-thirds of the company’s sales, and have paved the way for 35 new jobs at the company. Their equipment is in use in 80 countries.

French USA custom designs and manufactures oilseed equipment used to extract vegetable oil from seeds and nuts and to produce biofuels. The company also makes hydraulic presses for molding rubber and composites, and screw presses for synthetic rubber processing and separating liquids from solids.

Many of the French hydraulic presses in service today date back more than 50 years, evidence of their durability. The company provides parts for this vibrant aftermarket.

French’s focus on exporting as a long-term business strategy underscores a point that is often missed in political discord: Exports from the U.S. actually create jobs and economic opportunity here in America, as companies compete in the global economy. French USA exemplifies that maxim.

A Rush Order to Kuwait? No Problem

  • September 8, 2012

When the government of Kuwait wanted to rush-order five new fire-fighting vehicles with delivery in time for their Independence Day celebration, they turned to a New Jersey-based manufacturer and distributor named First Priority Emergency Vehicles (FPEV). The team at FPEV mobilized and within just two weeks, all five vehicles were completed and prepared for air delivery to Kuwait.

Not every production or distribution job at FPEV is that dramatic. But the company’s products allow first responders to perform their life-saving work, in the U.S. and around the globe. FPEV is America’s largest exporter of top grade emergency medical, fire, rescue, and special response vehicles. Being located near Newark helps expedite shipments by air, highway and ship. The company was honored as Exporter of the Year by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2010.

They represent several industry-leading manufacturers, and offer their own line of vehicles, as well. Their ambulances, for example, can be mounted to Chevy, Dodge, Ford, International, Kenworth, and Freightliner chassis. They also specialize in remounts, which can yield tremendous savings for jurisdictions and their taxpayers. FPEV is another prime example of manufacturing, export and service success in the U.S.

Codonics: Growth through Exports

  • November 14, 2011

When the federal govenrment set a goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years, it had growing companies like Codonics in mind. The firm designs and manufactures devices used to safely and accurately record and store vital data, and  improve workflow, in operating rooms, radiology labs and other medical settings. Their products range from the Horizon three-in-one radiological imager (it is a dry film imager, a color imager, and a grayscale paper imager that requires less than two feet of desk space) to FDA-approved label systems and disc importers and publishers.

With just under 200 employees, the northeast-Ohio based company exports products to 110 countries. Exports account for 70% of total sales, making the company a model for export-driven growth. Codonics now has 30,000 product installations worldwide, and has opened sales offices in Europe, Latin America, Japan ,Malaysia and China.

Codonics was recognized for its export success with the Commerce Department’s E Award in 2010. With the growing emphasis on electronic medical records, the company is well positioned for future growth, as well, making it a Great Manufacturing Story.