Dayton Honors 10 MN Cos. for Int’l Trade Efforts

The winners of the 27th annual Governor's International Trade Awards were announced at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Export Initiative luncheon in Minneapolis.

Governor Mark Dayton on Thursday recognized 10 Minnesota companies as winners of the 27th annual Governor's International Trade Awards.

The companies were honored for their achievements and growth in exporting and international business. Dayton announced the award recipients at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Export Initiative luncheon in Minneapolis.

At the event, Dayton also unveiled an initiative that aims to double exports from Twin Cities companies over the next five years.

“Delivering Minnesota products to expanded markets represents a tremendous opportunity for business growth and more jobs,” Dayton said in a statement. “Minnesota companies produce high-quality goods and services, which can be very successful internationally. Helping our businesses to identify their most promising opportunities and sharing the best practices from other successful companies will be critical to Minnesota's future economic success.”

The winning companies-along with the cities in which they are headquartered and a description of their offerings and international involvement-are:

Delkor Systems, Inc. (Circle Pines): The 125-employee company manufactures packaging machinery for food and consumer products. In the past two years, it has made significant investments to develop markets in Canada, Mexico, Central America, parts of South America, Australia, and New Zealand. International sales account for 13 percent of revenue.

Digi-Key Corporation (Thief River Falls): It distributes electronic components to 170 countries and has 83 websites that support nine languages and 14 currencies. Last year, the company shipped products to more than 388,100 locations and 572,000 customers. It has 2,550 employees.

GearGrid Corporation (Forest Lake): It manufactures wire and tube products for the retail display, fire, athletic, and equine markets. In 2008, in order to counter the recession, the 37-employee company expanded its product line outside of the United States. Today, it has distributors in the United Kingdom, Germany, Hong Kong, and Australia and exports products worldwide.

Jet Edge, Inc. (St. Michael): This family-owned firm manufactures ultra-high-pressure water jet-cutting systems. The company, which employs 40, has increased international sales three years in a row. About 26 percent of the company's revenue comes from sales outside of the United States.

KwikRink Synthetic Ice (Maple Grove): It specializes in developing and applying synthetic ice for the professional and residential hockey markets. It has customers in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Caribbean and generates 41 percent of its revenue from international sales.

The Mayo Clinic (Rochester): The clinic attracts about 5,000 foreign patients from 130 countries annually. In addition, Mayo has developed technology that enables it to serve international patients through e-consults and conferences. Mayo has representatives in many countries, offers global lab services, and employs an international medical staff. With more than 38,000 employees, it is one of Minnesota's five-largest employers.

ME Global, Inc. (Minneapolis): The company supplies cast wear parts and steel and iron castings to mining companies on six continents and has sales offices in North America, South America, Australia, India, South Africa, Bulgaria, and the Russian Federation. The company is owned by the Claro Group of Santiago, Chile and employs about 330.

Northwest Grains International (Edina): The company exports agricultural commodities to countries including China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand. It has 10 full-time employees and generates 98 percent of its revenue from exports.

Par Sytems, Inc. (Shoreview): This General Mills spinoff specializes in making automation systems and material-handling equipment for a variety of industries, including aerospace, construction, defense, food and beverage, life science, mining, and nuclear. The company employs about 360 people worldwide and generates about 15 percent of its revenue from sales in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Proto Labs (Maple Plain): The company, which completed its initial public offering last month, bills itself as the fastest producer of machined parts. Proto Labs has manufacturing facilities in England and Japan, has shipped products to 47 countries, and generates about 26 percent of its revenue from international sales. It employs more than 500.