PORTLAND, ME - Maine International Trade Center (MITC) is announcing the winners of the 2018 International Trade and Investment Awards. Maine companies are being recognized for their commitment to grow their business in international markets. Last year, 2,262 Maine companies exported $2.7 billion in goods and services to 176 countries.

“We’re excited to announce this year’s award winners,” MITC President Wade Merritt said. “These four companies produce world-class Maine products or deliver innovative solutions overseas while supporting hundreds of jobs here in the state.”

Exporter of the Year - Maine Coast, York, ME

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

When Maine Coast founder and CEO Tom Adams started his company in 2011, he did it with a vision that exporting lobster internationally was a market poised for growth. That strategy has paid off. Maine Coast has experienced 125% growth over the past three years. Revenue in 2017 was nearly $57 million.

The company shipped 7 million pounds of lobster from its facilities in York and Boston last year, with 60% of that exported overseas, to 29 different countries. Asia has become a crucial market for Maine Coast, where live seafood is an important part of their diet, and lobster tops the list of favorite foods.

Maine Coast supports almost 50 full-time jobs, most of those in York, where crews work around the clock to pack and ship lobsters worldwide. The company focuses on getting the lobster to its destination efficiently and ensuring a quality product is delivered to the customer. In support of continued growth and efficiency, the company is currently undergoing an expansion at its York facility that includes additional loading bays, increased cooler and freezer capacity, operations offices, and expanded parking area for freight management and employees.

“I believe we will continue to see strong catches in Maine today, and in the years to come. As a company, we are investing in that. I think worldwide demand will increase, and we intend to be poised to continue to support that growth, and our customers. Being named Exporter of the Year is a great honor. It is representative of what my team has accomplished over the last seven years. I’m extremely proud of them for their hard work that has enabled our success,” said Tom Adams, Maine Coast CEO.

Service Provider of the Year - Planson International, New Gloucester, 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.

In a red barn in rural New Gloucester, Maine, a $52 million company supplies IT equipment and services to over 150 countries across the globe. Planson International was started 25 years ago by Connie Justice out of her home. Today it employs 45 people, mostly in Maine, with a subsidiary in Denmark.

Planson International works with the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations for projects in developing countries, supporting food security, health, education, children, peacekeeping, conservation, refugee resettlement, and emergency response to natural disasters. Last year, Planson successfully completed a $26 million contract to supply computer labs to 889 high schools across the Philippines. Planson ensures all hardware and software is configured to meet the customer’s needs before it is shipped to places like Afghanistan or Burundi.

“Receiving this award underscores our company commitment to provide solutions, not simply sell goods. Efficiently sourcing and consolidating IT equipment, shipping it safely to customers in high risk regions, making sure it all works correctly under difficult conditions, and partnering with local companies to support our customers is a complex bundle of services. It is an honor to be recognized for this,” said Connie Justice, Planson International CEO.

Innovator of the Year - Fiber Materials, Inc. (FMI) Biddeford, ME

The Innovator of the Year Award is awarded to a company or organization in Maine that has accessed international markets through new and innovative processes or products.

A rocket hurtling into space, a Formula One racing car, or even a prosthetic limb. FMI in Biddeford, Maine has created parts for all of them. FMI designs, develops, and manufacturers high temperature composite materials for air, land, sea, and space. While the core business is defense, FMI also plays a key role in the country’s space program. In collaboration with NASA, they designed a heat shield system for the Mars 2012 rover mission and are currently working on new systems for the Mars 2020 rover mission and the New Frontiers program.

The nature of FMI’s defense work has meant a low profile for the company that has been operating in Biddeford for over forty years. New markets, including international customers in high performance auto racing, will allow the company to share more about its products.

“FMI has been a hidden gem in Biddeford, but now that we are diversifying into other markets and exploring commercial applications for our products, we can be more visible. We are honored to be recognized by Maine International Trade Center with this award and it speaks highly of the team here at FMI and their dedication to quality and innovation,” said Dan Godbout, Director of Worldwide Sales and Marketing, FMI.

Foreign Direct Investor of the Year - St. Croix Tissue, Baileyville, 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.

St. Croix Tissue in Baileyville, Maine is a bright spot for Maine’s paper industry. In 2016, the parent company, International Grand Investment Corp. (IGIC), a US-based company for a Chinese investment firm, invested $120 million in two new tissue making machines that has resulted in more than 80 new jobs at the mill and hundreds of indirect jobs.

Marco L’Italien, Vice President US East Operations for IGIC, says the high tech nature of the machines offers a new spin on traditional mill jobs. The employees operate together as part of a high performance work team, every position from maintenance to process engineers. As part of new market grant money the company received, 60% of the new hires were low income earners, providing economic opportunity for people in Washington County. Jobs at the mill pay between $18 and $35 per hour. Thirty-percent of the workforce are women.

The giant machines produce tissue rolls that weigh 2.5 tons, and the mill can produce 125 rolls per day. All of the tissue produced in Baileyville is trucked to other plants for finishing where it is turned into paper towels, facial tissue, and other consumer paper products.

“Investments have been made to give this facility a good head start for a sustainable future. We are happy to accept this award from Maine International Trade Center and credit our employees at St. Croix Tissue for their hard work helping to revitalize Maine’s proud paper making industry,” said Marco L’Italien.

The awards will be officially presented during Maine International Trade Day on May 18th at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine. Trade Day 2018 - Global Trade’s New Era: Accessing Asia - is Northern New England’s largest international business event. Asia is a growing market for Maine businesses, especially in the seafood sector, but others are also looking east. In 2017, Maine exports to Asia totaled $769 million (or 29% of total exports). Top Maine export countries in Asia are China, Japan, and South Korea.