The global pandemic has shifted the way companies grow their international business. Maine International Trade Center (MITC) is recognizing four that have used creativity, innovation, and new strategies to strengthen their ties to global markets and help the Maine economy.
“We’re very pleased to recognize this year’s award winners for their shared commitment to investing in the future of Maine,” said MITC President Wade Merritt. “Whether reorienting global sales strategies, scaling manufacturing in response to sharply increased market demand, or educating the next generation of international leaders, these are stories of resilience in the face of continuing uncertainty. Last year was the best performance for Maine’s exports since 2011 with a total of $3.1 billion exported to 177 markets around the world. Businesses and individuals like these are shining examples of the many businesses and people who made it happen and will make it happen into the future.”
Exporter of the Year: DeepWater Buoyancy (Biddeford, ME)
The Exporter of the Year Award is presented to a manufacturer that has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to international trade through increased exports.
DeepWater Buoyancy designs, engineers, and manufactures subsea buoyancy products for oceanographic, offshore oil & gas, and technology companies around the world. Company Co-President & Director of Business Development David Capotosto explained, “Anyone that wants to put something heavy at the bottom of the ocean and get it back someday, probably needs us.” About 35% of what they produce is exported to more than 40 countries around the globe. When the pandemic slowed oceanographic research and shut down international trade shows in 2020, the company pivoted to robust digital marketing efforts to reach new customers and has recently partnered with a company in the UK to establish business in the growing offshore wind industry.
“For a small Maine company of 25 people to be doing business all around the world, your entire team has to be firing on all cylinders. We have a lot of experience in international markets, and 2021 ended up being one of our strongest years. It’s an honor to be among the great Maine companies who have been named Exporter of the Year,” said David Capotosto, Co-President & Director of Business Development.
Innovator of the Year: Puritan Medical Products (Guilford, ME)
The Innovator of the Year Award is presented to a company or organization in Maine that has accessed international markets through new and innovative processes or products.
In 2020, the global pandemic created an immediate and desperate need for the medical grade swabs manufactured by a family company in Maine with 500 employees. Puritan answered that call for help from the US Government and immediately ramped up production to serve the domestic need. Today, the company has three additional plants – two in Pittsfield, ME and one in Orlinda,TN – and more than 1,200 workers. As swab demand in the US has started to wane, Puritan is now planning to refocus on international customers. The company sells swabs in more than 80 countries worldwide and prides itself on a commitment to personal relationships. Added capacity is allowing Puritan to seek out new global markets.
“Innovation comes from curiosity, and we get curious about things,” said Timothy Templet, Executive Vice President of Sales at Puritan. “We look at a swab and say, how do you make it better? We love it when customers ask about something we don’t make, and it’s a challenge for us to figure out how to develop what they need.”
Service Provider of the Year: School of Policy and International Affairs, University of Maine (Orono, ME)
The Service Provider of the Year Award is presented to a service provider that has established an international presence for the export of their service.
The School of Policy and International Affairs (SPIA) at the University of Maine has produced over 100 graduates in the last 12 years. Those graduates have gone on to jobs that impact the lives of hundreds of thousands, including one graduate who ran an international food security program that fed more than 600,000 children every day. Students from Maine and around the globe apply for the two-year graduate program that focuses on areas including trade and commerce, security, diplomacy and development, and international environmental and climate change policy. SPIA alumni come from countries like Germany, Japan, Canada, Ireland, China, Ukraine, Syria, Russia, Turkey, and Nigeria. With 95% of graduates going directly into the workforce, some stay in Maine, while others seek international opportunities.
“What we produce is a service, and there is an export here,” said Jim Settele, Director of the School of Policy and International Affairs. “The export is educated Maine and international students. Our graduates aren’t going on to Wall Street to make money, they are going to hard places around the world to make an impact or staying here in Maine focused on public service. Our program positions Maine to be more successful, more competitive, and to take better care of its people.”
Foreign Direct Investor of the Year: Adapt Agency (Portland, ME)
The Foreign Direct Investor of the Year Award is presented annually to recognize foreign-owned companies that have made a strategic decision to invest in Maine by either opening a plant or enhancing their existing operations here.
The pandemic forced everyone to use digital technologies – seemingly 24/7 – to connect, meet, work, shop, and attend classes. Copenhagen-based Adapt Agency is focused on offering a better way to experience digital life. The agency designs and creates websites, offering digital marketing, content development, and e-commerce solutions for companies across the globe. With offices in Barcelona, Copenhagen, and Lithuania, Portland was chosen as the location for its North American office in 2021. The company says Maine has a similar sensibility to Denmark: a culture of smart, hardworking people coupled with an appreciation and respect for natural resources. Adapt Agency has 175 employees worldwide and is growing its Maine workforce and adding mission-focused Maine companies to its client list that includes wind technology leader Orsted, as well as WorkHuman and edX (founded by MIT and Harvard University). Adapt Agency is committed to creating inclusive and sustainable user experiences for the Blue and Green economies.
“Part of our mission is to clean up the digital world. When people stop and think about where energy is being consumed, people are unaware of the rising cost and impact of servers burning and wasting energy on poorly designed websites that simply take way too long to load. We want people to think about the global impact of digital experiences, and we have found like-minded people in Maine to help us achieve that mission,” said Doug Sisko, Managing Director of Adapt Agency USA.
In addition to the four companies, two individuals are also being honored by MITC this year.
Josh Rosen will receive the President’s Award which is given to an individual or organization which has displayed exceptional support to Maine International Trade Center. Rosen has worked with MITC to craft several successful federal grant applications for SBA STEP funding and most recently consulted with MITC to develop a comprehensive offshore wind strategy for the organization. Rosen is completing an energy and climate-focused JD/MBA program at University of Maine this May.
“Our research shows there are 80 companies in Maine that are already participating in the offshore wind industry or well positioned to do so,” said Josh Rosen. “Offshore wind developments in the US are being led by European companies. MITC’s international business expertise can be a big boost to Maine firms interested in participating in this truly global industry. I’m so grateful to have had the chance to help MITC strategize its role in maximizing benefits of this emerging industry to Maine firms and people.”
Abigail Gray will receive the Future Global Leader Award, which recognizes exceptional work of a MITC intern. During the pandemic in 2020, Gray provided valuable assistance to the MITC team and was able to have a measurable impact, even while working remotely. Gray is now working in the international education field in Costa Rica.
“My involvement in the Model U.N. program through the UMaine system sparked my interest in international affairs,” said Abigail Gray. “My internship and experiences with the MITC team showed me that miles are a formality, and you can develop relationships with people thousands of miles away in an authentic way. I was able to think about how Maine’s influence expands beyond state borders and see how Maine businesses develop international markets. Even during those early, uncertain days of the pandemic, it was an inspiring experience.”
This year’s award winners will be honored during a Trade Day 2022 virtual event on May 24th from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm. Learn more and register at https://www.mitc.com/education-events/trade-day