MITC Annual Trade and Investment Awards Announced

Maine International Trade Center (MITC) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2024 International Trade and Investment Awards.

“Maine businesses are finding success on the world stage thanks to our hardworking people, high-quality goods and services, and culture of innovation,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I congratulate the 2024 International Trade and Investment Award winners and thank them for their contributions toward making Maine the best place in the world to live, work, and start and grow a business.”

More than 2,000 Maine companies exported over $3.3 billion in goods and services to 187 markets last year. International trade supports 1 in 5 (170,300) Maine jobs. Foreign-owned companies are important customers for local goods and services and employ 37,300 Maine workers.

“This year’s diverse cohort of award winners from the blue economy, education, life sciences, legal, and logistics sectors represent Maine well,” said Wade Merritt, MITC President and State Director of International Trade. “From new product lines to growing international markets and developing partnerships, we’re excited to share and celebrate their successes during the awards ceremony at Trade Day 2024.”

Exporter of the Year: Tempshield (Trenton, ME)

The Exporter of the Year Award is presented to a manufacturer that has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to international trade through increased exports.

The cryogenic gloves made by Tempshield offer protection from extreme contact cold applications, down to -300° Fahrenheit. The Trenton company launched its first cryogenic glove in 1980 from a kitchen table produced with a pair of scissors and needle and thread. Today, they are a worldwide leader in the industry. The company has been selling overseas for decades with international sales making up 50% of its business. Every phase of production, from development to distribution, happens in Maine. Tempshield’s gloves and other personal protection products are used in labs, hospitals, and even by NASA in space applications. Recently, the company launched its first consumer line called Mainers™, offering high performance gloves and mittens for winter’s harsh temperatures in Maine and beyond.

“The making of Cryo-Gloves is an art. We purchase very specific materials, and our craftspeople make each product to exacting standards,” said Paul Larochelle, Chief Operating Officer of Tempshield. “Products we make here go to customers in nearly every country around the globe, and we are proud to be named MITC’s Exporter of the Year.”

Innovator of the Year: Gulf of Maine, Inc. (Pembroke, 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.

Gulf of Maine, Inc. offers a diversity of hand-harvested products from the shores and waters of Cobscook Bay in Eastern Maine, including shellfish, seaweed, and marine life specimens. When biologist Tim Sheehan started Gulf of Maine Inc. in 2002, he found eager customers for ocean-based products in domestic and overseas markets primarily with seaweeds and marine worms. One emerging product showing promise is live Periwinkle snails. These gastropods, abundant along Downeast shores, are highly sought after in European and Asian markets. Located in Pembroke, the company is innovating by identifying new direct, year-round export markets that will allow Maine harvesters to command increased catch prices, diversify their incomes, and boost the economies of rural coastal Maine.

“We are enjoying success with our seaweed and worm markets and are thrilled to redefine the current market for these tasty snails,” says Tim Sheehan, President of Gulf of Maine, Inc. “We have the potential to provide a substantial economic boost to Downeast fishermen by providing new export markets for these and other underutilized and often overlooked shellfish products. We are pleased to be recognized by MITC for our efforts and excited to see what the future will bring.”

Service Provider of the Year: Bangor International Airport (Bangor, 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.

Bangor International Airport (BGR) boasts one of the longest runways on the East Coast, capable of handling any aircraft in the world. BGR is also the first stop in the United States from the North Atlantic, a geographical advantage for the airport and the city to attract transient international customers. Unlike many airports that outsource their fixed base operator (FBO), Bangor has owned and operated BGR Aviation for four decades. BGR Aviation offers a wide array of services to private, charter, and military flights from around the world. With more flights, bigger aircraft, and more cargo service, passenger numbers are up by 30%. BGR Aviation actively seeks out new customers, including having a presence at the Dubai Air Show.

“Safe and timely customer service is very important to us,” says Aimee Thibodeau, Marketing and Business Development Manager at Bangor International Airport. “Whether it’s fuel service, catering, or a crew needs a car to run out and get a lobster roll while we service their aircraft, we can provide what they need. We are pleased to be recognized as MITC’s Service Provider of the Year.”

Foreign Direct Investor of the Year: Medix Biochemica (Espoo, Finland) / ViroStat (Westbrook, 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.

Microbiologist Doug McAllister started ViroStat in 1985 to make antibodies for infectious diseases used by researchers and manufacturers. Nearly 40 years later, the company is known worldwide, and nearly half of its business is international. The antibodies ViroStat develops are a key component of rapid tests used to detect viruses like influenza and Strep A. Last November, ViroStat was acquired by Medix Biochemica, a Finland-based global leader in the supply of critical raw materials for the in vitro diagnostic industry. Medix and ViroStat have a long-standing business relationship and McAllister saw them as the perfect partner for ViroStat to ensure long term growth and success.

“We have great respect for what Doug and the ViroStat team have built in Maine,” said Medix Biochemica CEO Steve Ferguson. I am highly excited about the portfolio and cultural fit between our teams and looking forward to jointly growing our business to enable our customers to combat infectious diseases globally.”

Two individual awards are also being presented by MITC this year.

Sal Savatteri will receive the 2024 President’s Award, given to an individual or organization which has displayed exceptional support to the Maine International Trade Center. A Principal at Savatteri Law Firm, P.C. in Portland which specializes in US immigration law, Sal has been a valued resource and contributor to MITC for over a decade. Offering his expertise on business and student immigration, he has participated in overseas activities and trade missions, serving as an ambassador for Maine and MITC at home and abroad.

Sophia Di Risi will receive the 2024 Future Global Leader Award, which recognizes exceptional work of a MITC intern. During her time at MITC, Sophia provided valuable assistance to the MITC team, taking on a number of research and marketing projects. She graduated from the University of Southern Maine in 2023 and is a Recruitment & Engagement Manager at The Roux Institute at Northeastern University in Portland.

All of the award winners will be honored during Trade Day 2024 on May 16th and 17th in Bangor. The theme for this year’s event is “Evolution: The Future of Maine’s Heritage Industries.” Learn more and register at: