Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
Press Release

Three companies win 2022 Governor’s Export Achievement Awards

Winsert, Croix Valley Foods, Graftobian Makeup Company honored for exporting excellence

By - Oct 26th, 2022 04:15 pm

MILWAUKEE, WI. OCT. 26, 2022– Governor Tony Evers today announced Winsert of Marinette, Croix Valley Foods of Hudson and Graftobian Makeup Company of Madison as winners of the 2022 Governor’s Export Achievement Awards in recognition of their successes in global business development.

The awards were presented by Sam Rikkers, deputy secretary and COO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), at the Global Business Insight Series Reception hosted by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce’s World Trade Association.

The awards honor businesses that have achieved significant growth or implemented innovative strategies in exporting. Nominees were evaluated on measurable export growth, innovation to enter or grow international markets, contributions to the state’s overall economy, and trade development.

“Exports play a critical role in our state’s economic success, and promoting Wisconsin’s quality products, industries, and resources continues to be such an important part of our work to expand export opportunities and build a strong, resilient economy,” said Gov. Evers. “The folks we’re recognizing with these awards have proven themselves as innovative business leaders in our state whose efforts have helped ensure Wisconsin remains a prominent global trade partner with countries worldwide. We’re glad to be able to honor and celebrate their successes.”

2022 Governor’s Export Achievement Award Winners:

Winsert – Founded in 1977, Winsert is a traditional manufacturer that understands the importance of addressing the needs of its clients and delivering best-of-class service domestically and internationally. The company completed the ExporTech program in 2019 and took advantage of WEDC’s International Market Access Grant on several occasions. Winsert currently exports its proprietary alloys to 29 countries. To further support growth in Europe, a sales office was established outside Munich, Germany. In addition, the company is also expanding into Asia with a sales and technical support team located in Japan.

“We are honored and excited to be the recipients of this award,” said Mark Coduti, President and CEO. “Exporting is such a critical facet to our business at Winsert, as export revenue grew from 55% to more than 65% during the pandemic years. Without that aspect of our business, we would have been in a difficult position. Instead, we were able to focus on areas throughout the world that were still consuming our products and thus, keep our business thriving.

“Winsert is still a growing business and we recently completed our first acquisition. One of the main criteria that we had when selecting the acquisition was the ability to grow via exporting.  Exporting is a key part of all of our business strategy and we wouldn’t be where we are without it.”

Croix Valley Foods – Founded in 2009 by husband and wife Damon and Lu Holter, Croix Valley Foods only began exporting in 2018; however, since then export revenue has more than doubled each year and is projected to do so again in 2022. In addition, the company’s export-derived revenue has grown from 5% of total revenue in 2018 to 22% so far this year.  Taking the award designated for a company in the agricultural sector, Croix Valley Food’s initial product line consisted of three sauces and has since grown to 44 products, including sauces, dry rubs, seasonings, and Bloody Mary flavor enhancers that are currently being sold to nine countries.

“Damon and I are thrilled that Croix Valley has been chosen to receive the Governor’s Export Achievement Award,” said Lu Holter, co-owner of Croix Valley Foods.  “We are very proud of our business and are very thankful to be a part of a community and state that is so driven to help direct and guide businesses to success in exporting. The global community we have encountered that have embraced our company and our products is phenomenal and pales only in comparison with the fantastic exporting experts in Wisconsin. We are proud to be a small business in this state and are excited to bring Wisconsin to every corner of the world – one bottle of sauce at a time.”

Graftobian Makeup Company – Founded in 1978, Graftobian Makeup Company has been exporting its products since the 1980s; however, over the past 10 years exports have grown considerably after participating in multiple Global Trade Ventures. As a manufacturer of professional-quality high-definition makeup and body paint for theater, film, TV, fashion, and special effects, the company’s products are best marketed via live demonstrations. In response to the pandemic, a multi-camera system using 4K technology was developed to allow the company to continue to demonstrate the product internationally through video conferencing. Having recently entered several new international markets, export orders now account for about 30% of sales and, in May of this year, the company was named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Wisconsin Small Business Exporter of the Year.

“We at Graftobian Makeup Company are tremendously honored to be receiving the Governor’s Export Achievement Award,” exclaimed Eric Coffman, President of the company. “Our efforts to locate and cultivate non-domestic distribution have been greatly improved by the ongoing programs, grants and trade missions designed expertly by the WEDC. Due in large part to this WEDC assistance, Graftobian is experiencing a very optimistic New Day!”

In addition to the three winners, there were two semi-finalists for the award: Hydro-Thermal Corporation (Waukesha); and Sub-Zero Group, Inc. (Madison).

Many of the winners and semi-finalists have used programs from WEDC to develop an export strategy and increase their overseas sales. Several are graduates of ExporTech, an export acceleration program developed in partnership by WEDC, the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP), and the UW-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center (MOC). Several have taken part in WEDC trade ventures and missions and have received grants for their exporting initiatives. For more information on WEDC’s exporting programs and services, visit inwisconsin.com/export.

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. While it is believed to be reliable, Urban Milwaukee does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness.

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