CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire companies dramatically increased their exports last year, and the state and federal government helped them do so.
Tina Kasim, program manager for the International Trade Resource Center, credited both the innovative nature of the companies and a partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce for making the Granite State the leader in a national surge in export growth in 2013.
Companies here increased their exports more than 22 percent, to $4.3 billion, part of the national all-time high export total of $2.3 trillion. In Maine, exports reached $2.7 billion, according to the Department of Commerce.
While some of the companies are well-known and make complete, easily identifiable products used by the general public, many make specialized products that are components of other products.
Among them are Corfin Industries in Salem and New England Wire in Lisbon. So marketing themselves internationally poses special challenges.
The federal and state governments stepped in to provide assistance in a variety of ways, including matching grants to enable some companies to attend international conferences and shows with the assistance of the State Trade Export Promotion program.
Don Tyler, managing director of Corfin Industries, said STEP’s matching grants enabled the company to attend trade shows in other countries that result in overseas business.
Corfin Industries provides component preparation services to the defense, medical, telecommunications and other industries. Its core technology, robotic hot solder dip, was pioneered in the 1980s and today serves major equipment manufacturers and their subcontractors around the world.
Tyler said participation in the overseas conferences, including the Singapore Air Show last month, has led to “an amazing amount of growth.”
As a result, he said, the company won’t need financial assistance to attend the next overseas event.
Corfin will exhibit at the Farnborough International Airshow the United Kingdom in July.
The air show aims to inspire youngster to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, something dear to the heart of Tyler and to Melissa Poore, the business development manager of New England Wire Technologies.
Both businesses require employees with manufacturing and technological expertise, and if their increased exports prompt additional company hiring, it’s not always easy to find that locally, so the increased focus on STEM is important for the future of businesses like theirs.
Poore, whose company has been in business since 1898, said the kinds of wire and cable have changed over the years and now many of New England Wire’s products are used in medical devices, including robotics.
“The medical area for us is big,” she said. And the international market is the place to expand sales.
The help of the resource center and the U.S. Commerce Department is important in achieving that goal, she said. “It’s difficult for small businesses to figure out how to expand a global footprint.”
While the state’s key export categories are computer and electronic products, oil and gas, machinery manufactures, fabricated metal products and electrical equipment, some are soft products.For example, the W.S. Badger company, produces a line of all natural and organic skin care products at its Gilsum plant.
Stephanie Ritchie, the international business manager for the company, said exporting Badger products is a natural expansion for the 17-year-old company because its products meet European standards for cleanliness and purity that are stricter than those in the United States.
Ritchie, who is a member of the Granite State District Export Council, which works with the Commerce Department’s U.S. Export Assistance Centers, said the STEP grants enable companies to find international partners.
“We don’t have the time or resources,” she said, referring to small companies like hers, which has 40-plus employees.
Badger, which started with Badger Balm, developed by a carpenter to soothe his cracked and chapped hands, has expanded its range of certified natural and organic offerings to include various balms, mineral sunscreens, lip balms, bug repellents, skin moisturizers, and other personal care products.
Ritchie said a company like Badger now relies on a network of contracted distributors abroad and sees those markets continuing to expand.
Distributed by MCT Information Services