The winners of the AEDC’s 2021 Global Trade Awards were celebrated Oct. 13 in a ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock. Governor Asa Hutchinson, Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston, and the AEDC’s Rudy Ortiz were present to give a speech and present trophies to the award-winning companies.
Arkansas District Export Council announced the six winners of the 2021 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Global Trade earlier this month, ranging from a leather dog collar manufacturer in Conway, to a global provider of high-quality vehicle accessories located in Springdale.
The award traditionally recognizes the exporting excellence and successes among Arkansas’ small, medium, and large enterprises. Winners of the award are Arkansas manufacturing or agriculture companies actively selling in international markets. Each company is presented with a trophy during the awards ceremony and profiled throughout the year as the winner of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Global Trade. The award ceremony takes place each year at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock, with the Governor and First Lady in attendance.
“The companies this year were selected on a more challenging basis than years past. In 2021, we are recognizing exporters who through the innovative and thoughtful development of the export market were able to successfully overcome the economic impacts of the 2020 pandemic and retain at least 95 percent of their workforce.”
Chair of the ADEC, Rudy Ortiz, hosted the awards ceremony. Regarding the current global supply chain crisis, Ortiz said, “This is something I deal with on a daily basis. What we are dealing with is essentially a domino effect. A year ago, companies were battling restrictions, they shut down or limited production, and things snowballed from there. A year later, production is in decent shape, not back to normal, but other factors now come in to play.” Ortiz also explained that the scarcity of shipping containers is a major factor in current global supply chain issues.
These six companies, and all business worldwide, have had their work cut out for them over the past couple of years. Ortiz said that this year’s winning companies powered through the pandemic via “good management, innovation, and finding a way to make lemonade out of lemons.”
Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston praised the tenacity of the state’s economy, saying, “If people didn’t understand the importance of trade before this pandemic, hopefully it has opened their eyes to just how important it is and really what it means to our state.””Most people, when you talk about Arkansas, they don’t think of us as a big trading state, but we are,” Preston added. “We’re dependent upon trade in so many sectors. People don’t realize the power we have across the country, across the world. When we go meet with [other countries] people are going to know about Arkansas because there is a good chance they have done business with someone in Arkansas.”
Governor Asa Hutchinson congratulated the winning companies for their “innovation and entrepreneurship,” which he said has made Arkansas “a special place in the global marketplace.” The Governor also addressed the current supply chain and workforce issues brought on by the pandemic that are dominating the country. “We’re in a transition, and we need to do everything we can to accelerate the movement of our workforce back to employment.” He continued, “Not withstanding these challenges that we face, we are through your efforts, expanding our markets and innovating and making sure our market share continues to grow.”
Hutchinson also issued congratulations following the event, stating, “The companies such as the six winners of this year’s Governor’s Export Awards give me plenty to brag about when I tell others about Arkansas. They not only took care of business during the global health crisis, they took care of their employees. The entrepreneurial and can-do spirit as well as a resolve to look out for one another is in our DNA. COVID-19 brought out the best in Arkansans and was on full display in the leadership of these six companies.”
2021 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Global Trade Winners:
Innovation & Impact in Manufacturing:
Chandler Equipment Inc., Springdale – Manufacturer of truck accessories to a variety of customer groups in the agriculture, food, oil and gas, and transportation industries. The Chandler family operates within five specific companies that have grown into manufacturing accessories and supplies for the energy industry and providing liquid transportation parts all over the world.
Large Manufacturer Exporter:
Gerdau, Fort Smith – Gerdau is a major producer of steel products headquartered in Brazil. One of the of the business units of the company is Gerdau Special Steel North America which is comprised of two steel making facilities, one located in Fort Smith.
Medium Manufacturer Exporter:
Alliance Rubber, Hot Springs – Alliance Rubber Company has been manufacturing some of the world’s best banding products at their manufacturing facility in Hot Springs, Arkansas since 1923. Their products are designed to be used in industrial, office, medical and agricultural applications and they sell in over 55 different countries.
Small Manufacturer Exporter:
ECOJOHN, North Little Rock – ECOJOHN is a manufacturing company that specialize in offering waste management solutions for off-grid, remote, and mobile applications. Their products include efficient waterless incinerating toilets and wastewater incinerators that eliminate the need for a septic tank or dumping black water tanks.
Arkansas Rising Star:
Leather Brothers Inc., Conway – Leather Brothers are third generation leather workers who supply their products, bearing the OmniPet® brand name, to an ever-growing network of dealers and distributors worldwide.
Resilience in Manufacturing:
Lycus Ltd., El Dorado – Lycus Ltd. is the only domestic manufacturer of certain UV absorbers currently used on the market today. This Arkansas chemical plant is a wholesaler and contract manufacturer serving the world’s leading chemical companies with their ultraviolet (UV) light absorbers for use in plastics, coatings, and personal care applications.
Photo Credit: Castrellon