OTTAWA, Dec. 2 /CNW/ - Export Development Canada (EDC) and PROFIT Magazine (PROFIT) today announced the five winners of the Canada Export Achievement Awards, which celebrate innovation and creativity among Canadian exporters.
"The global economic crisis has provided an important reminder about the value of market diversification to the bottom line of your business, and this year's award winners are fitting case studies to that effect," said Eric Siegel, President and CEO of EDC. "Through their business and trade ingenuity, they showed how market diversification can help you not only weather a downturn, but thrive and gain market share. EDC congratulates all of the winners and hope that others will learn from their success stories."
"The international success of the Canada Export Achievement Award winners should inspire companies of all shapes and sizes to consider the expansion opportunities offered by the global marketplace," says Ian Portsmouth, Editor and Associate Publisher of PROFIT. "And their stories provide valuable guidance on how develop a vibrant export business while minimizing the unique challenges of selling abroad."
The awards program was created by EDC and PROFIT to inspire and encourage Canadian companies to expand internationally by celebrating the export achievements of successful Canadian small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The winners are:
Mad Rock Marine Solutions Inc.
LOCATION: St. John's, Nfld.
WHAT IT DOES: Manufactures lifeboat release hooks
PRESIDENT, CEO AND CTO: Dean Pelley
Being in a lifeboat is risky business, and not just on the open water: over the past of 18 years, 600 people have died in approximately 1,000 lifeboat accidents, with the majority of those due to release-hook failures that occur as lifeboats are being deployed or pulled aboard. Mad Rock's groundbreaking lifeboat release-hook design eliminates such failures, which helps to explain the export success of the St. John's, Nfld.-based company, which first commercialized the product in 2006. In the year ended March 31, 2010, Mad Rock generated $3.7 million in sales, with 84% of it coming from customers in foreign markets. But co-founder and chief executive Dean Pelley says that success would not have come so quickly without the help of staff within the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service or Mad Rock's concerted effort to change the maritime regulations discouraging shipping and cruise companies from adopting its technology.
Chrislan Ceramics and Glassware Decorating Inc.
LOCATION: Maple Ridge, B.C.
WHAT IT DOES: Manufactures ceramic beer-tap handles and distributes glassware
EXECUTIVE TEAM: Jack Laninga, President; Alan Laninga, Vice-President; Glenn Laninga, Secretary
The rise of the microbrewery not only gave beer drinkers a tasty alternative to the offerings of the big breweries—it also gave Chrislan Ceramics and Glassware Decorating a great growth opportunity. In the late 1980s, Maple Ridge, B.C.-based Chrislan started to move away from its original business—decorating glassware for major breweries—and into production of ceramic beer tap handles for microbreweries, which were taking off in the U.S. Today, such tap handles for breweries from the micros to the majors comprise much of Chrislan's production. Last year, the firm generated revenue of $4.9 million, with $4.5 million coming from customers in the U.S. (86% of export sales) and the U.K. (14%). Building an export business in tap handles hasn't been challenge-free; in order to remain price competitive against the loonie's rise in value relative to the U.S. dollar, Chrislan has invested heavily in automation and streamlined its production processes. And vice-president Alan Laninga—one of three brothers who now run the family business—says that sourcing supplies from the U.S. has reduced the impact of currency volatility.
Iridian Spectral Technologies Ltd.
WHAT IT DOES: Manufactures optical filters
PRESIDENT: George Laframboise
The next time you head to the local multiplex to take in a 3D blockbuster, there's a chance your cinematic experience will be brought to you in part Iridian Spectral Technologies Ltd. Since 1998, the Ottawa-based firm has done brisk business selling its optical filters to customers in the telecommunications and biomedical industries—almost all of them located in foreign markets. But in recent years, sales of 3D glasses and projector parts to the U.S. and Europe have helped to increase the company's annual revenue to $17.4 million in the year ended June 30, 2010. President George Laframboise credits the surge not only to high-quality products, but also to the firm's ability to scale up production on short notice, thanks to positive relationships with key members of its supply chain. Iridian has also benefited from careful cash management, allowing the company to overcome the payment delays and other financial pressures that often attend working in export markets, especially emerging economies.
iBwave Solutions Inc.
LOCATION: St-Laurent, Que.
WHAT IT DOES: Wireless-network design software
PRESIDENT & CEO: Mario Bouchard
Founded in 2003, iBwave Solutions Inc. produces indoor wireless-network design software that replaces the hodgepodge of software applications that engineers have traditionally used to plan out wireless installations within large buildings and campuses. Today, the firm boasts 270 clients in 70 countries including China, Kuwait and Turkey, although 65% of its sales go to wireless carriers, equipment vendors and systems integrators in the U.S. — where iBwave is considered to be the dominant player in the wireless-network design software niche. In 2009, the firm generated $5.2 million in exports out of total sales of $5.5 million. President and CEO Mario Bouchard says that the firm's biggest initial challenge was simply the lack of a track record and the credibility that comes with it, a problem the firm addressed by appointing a big-name advisory board that gave iBwave counsel and contacts. And last year, the company's efforts to develop an industry-standard certification program to streamline indoor wireless-network development was adopted by two U.S. wireless giants that now require their suppliers to work with iBwave's products.
AMR Process Inc.
LOCATION: Leduc, Alta.
WHAT IT DOES: Engineering-process designs and equipment for oil and gas upstream processing PRESIDENT : Ashley Robbins
Given that AMR Process Inc. is located in the hometown of Alberta's first big oil strike, it should be no surprise that its first customers were from the Alberta oil patch. But since AMR's launch in 2002, the Leduc, Alta.-based company has found buyers in an array oil-producing countries for its engineering-process designs and equipment for oil and gas upstream processing. In fact, almost all of the firm's multi-million dollar sales in 2009 came from foreign markets such as Iraq, Tunisia, Nigeria and China. And according to Ashley Robbins, AMR's president, the company the company has more than doubled sales in 2010. He says AMR forms strategic alliances with firms local to each new export market AMR tries to penetrate, which facilitates market entry by providing contacts and credibility. The firm is also the beneficiary of communication and productivity technologies that give AMR—which employs just nine people—the reach and responsiveness of much larger companies.
EDC is Canada's export credit agency, offering innovative commercial solutions to help Canadian exporters and investors expand their international business. EDC's knowledge and partnerships are used by more than 8,400 Canadian companies and their global customers in up to 200 markets worldwide each year. EDC is financially self-sustaining, and is a recognized leader in financial reporting and economic analysis.
About PROFIT Magazine: PROFIT: Your Guide to Business Success is Canada's preeminent publication dedicated to the management issues and opportunities facing small and mid-sized businesses. For 28 years, Canadian entrepreneurs and senior managers across a vast array of economic sectors have remained loyal to PROFIT because it's a timely and reliable source of actionable information that helps them achieve business success and get the recognition they deserve for generating positive economic and social change. Visit PROFIT online at www.profitguide.com
For further information: For further information:
Export Development Canada
Tel: (613) 598-2904
PROFIT: Your Guide to Business Success