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Governor’s Export Achievement Awards spotlight export excellence

November 28, 2023
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The 2023 winners include MacDonald & Owen Lumber Co., the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, S3 AeroDefense, and the Badger Technology Group.

Three Wisconsin companies and one industry organization have received 2023 Governor’s Export Achievement Awards recognizing their outstanding efforts to expand their competence and influence in international markets.

This year’s awards, presented following the Wisconsin Economic Summit in Appleton in late October, went to the MacDonald & Owen Lumber Company, the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, S3 AeroDefense, and the Badger Technology Group.

“For our businesses willing to take on the adventure of exporting, it is incredibly important,” said Missy Hughes, WEDC secretary and CEO. “While it’s excellent for your businesses, it’s also excellent for the Wisconsin economy.”

Wisconsin’s exports for 2023 so far totaled $18.4 billion through August, exceeding the previous year’s total for the same period by $227.8 million, a 1.5% increase.

Two of the 2023 award winners, Badger Technology Group and S3 AeroDefense, work in the aerospace sector. Notably, that sector was ranked seventh among state export categories in 2022.

“The global trade and investment team at WEDC offers multiple programs and resources to assist Wisconsin companies, both new-to-export and experienced exporters, to explore the many opportunities that international markets represent,” said Katy Sinnott, WEDC’s vice president of global trade and investment.

The awards recognize businesses and organizations that achieved significant growth or use innovative strategies in exporting. Here’s a look at this year’s winners.

Governor's Export award presented to Badger Technology Group.

The Port Washington-based Badger Technology Group increased its sales by 400% over three years.

Badger Technology Group: Based in Port Washington and founded in 2016, Badger Technology Group started as a consulting firm catering to U.S. companies in the aerospace industry. Eventually, it moved into software and hardware integration, engineering development, and production.

In 2020, it acquired a Florida aviation simulation manufacturer and expended its product line. It has exported to seven nations and has ongoing proposals to enter markets in 13 other countries.

Badger Technology Group has grown from 10 employees to 39 in the past three years; during the same time period, the company’s sales increased by 400%, with 86% of total sales coming from international customers. In 2022, the company received a WEDC International Market Access Grant to attend the International Defense Conference in the United Arab Emirates.

“I highly recommend that companies look at the world as a small place and go after international business,” said Daniel Wade, the firm’s president. “There are a lot of markets out there that are looking for products and think highly of products from the state of Wisconsin.”

Governor's Export Award presented to Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

The Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin organization assists with export growth as well as inbound “dairy immersion” trips.

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin: Established in 1983, the organization represents Wisconsin’s 6,000 dairy farmers, advocating, marketing, and promoting their products domestically and around the world. In recent years, the Madison-based organization has increased its focus on international markets; its export team comprises four employees, with new sales to markets including Singapore, Thailand, Kuwait, South Korea, Canada, and Japan.

The organization also conducts inbound “dairy immersion” trips that provide a firsthand look inside Wisconsin’s dairy industry, including visiting dairy farms, observing the supply chain at work, and setting up meetings to coordinate potential sales.

The group partners with the state Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection; the Center for Dairy Research; the U.S. Dairy Export Council; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The world needs to be fed, and we have an incredible product,” said Chad Vincent, CEO of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. “The dairy industry in Wisconsin is so critical. It’s responsible for a $45.6 billion economic impact in the state every year and over 100,000 jobs. It really keeps rural Wisconsin rolling.”

Governor's Export Award presented to MacDonald & Owen Lumber Co. (DATCP representative accepted on their behalf)

A DATCP representative accepted the award on behalf of MacDonald & Owen Lumber Co.

MacDonald & Owen Lumber Company: The firm, headquartered in West Salem with a production facility in Luck, has 143 Wisconsin employees. It produces a wide range of hardwood products, including cribbage board inlays, restaurant tables, doors, baseball bats, and more. Since 2021, it has shipped its products to 36 nations; its $280 million in export sales since then has accounted for 23.2% of the company’s business. The company’s export success also benefits its 114 Wisconsin-based vendors, who help the firm compete globally.

The firm has made use of ExporTech™, a WEDC-sponsored program that helps small and midsize Wisconsin companies tap into new markets with a customized export expansion strategy.

“We know we have a role to play in helping advance the awareness of what Wisconsin has to offer in the form of hardwood lumber products,” said Clint West, MacDonald & Owens’s CEO. “ExporTech was helpful to us because they gave us some good tools to understand how international transactions happen.”

Governor's Export Award presented to S3 AeroDefense

Milwaukee-based S3 AeroDefense employs a multicultural team with members fluent in at least 14 languages.

S3 AeroDefense LLC: This Milwaukee firm is an award-winning provider of military aircraft spare parts, component repair services, and supply chain solutions to global military operators. S3’s global presence extends to 55 countries on six continents.

The company, which has also taken advantage of ExporTech and the International Market Access Grant, saw revenue grow by 31% from 2018-2022, with export sales making up 23% of the total. For 2022, sales outside North America represented 68% of its business.

The company maintains five offices globally and attends a robust schedule of trade show appearances worldwide. Company officials are committed to growing international business and say that 100% of S3’s employees are directly involved in international activities. Because of that, S3 employs a multicultural, multilingual team that has team members fluent in at least 14 languages.

“At S3 AeroDefense we’re committed not only to achieving excellence in aerospace but also supporting WEDC’s mission to boost Wisconsin’s export economy,” said Aksel Sidem, the firm’s CEO. “This recognition inspires us to continue our dedication to innovation and global collaboration, furthering the economic success of our great state.”

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