Winter 2012 Feature Article
Great ships loaded with grain and iron ore leaving the Duluth harbor bound for ports around the world. For generations of Minnesotans, that was the image of our state’s international trade.
Today, that romantic vision needs to make room for a broader view of Minnesota exporting. Businesses in towns across Minnesota led the state to a record-breaking $5.3 billion worth of products sold internationally last year. When you consider that the National Association of Manufacturers reports that every $1 in manufacturing product infuses an additional $1.37 into other sectors of a local economy, it’s clear that exporting abroad supports people at home.
“There is no doubt that international success requires a business going ‘all-in’ and taking some calculated risks,” said Kathy Gaalswyk, Initiative Foundation president, “but the good news is that they don’t have to do it alone. In Minnesota, we have a wealth of resources and expertise to draw upon.”
Over 100 companies in central Minnesota are playing an increasing role in the state’s exporting success. Some fought hard to keep their heads above water during the recent recession. All see international markets as the way to expand their business base and weather the storms of economic uncertainty.
Even as they grow, these companies have stayed where they were founded, keeping the money they earn in their communities, contributing taxes, paying utilities and raising their employees’ standard of living. And they have no intention of moving from the towns they call home. Here are four central Minnesota businesses that are exporting success.
Schaefer Ventilation Equipment, Sauk Rapids
STEADIER DEMAND: The recession proved to Schaefer Ventilation Equipment CEO Neil Crocker that the company needed to develop a more sustainable overseas market.
Larson Boats, Little Falls
EASTBOUND: Larson Boats CEO Al Kuebelbeck is turning the Little Falls-based company’s attention to China.
Microbiologics, St. Cloud
MADE IN ST. CLOUD: Microbiologics CEO Brad Goskowicz says the company sells its products in 128 countries.
Rotochopper, Inc., St. Martin
GROUND LEVEL: Rotochopper CEO John Babcock said that international revenues climbed to $6 million in 2010.