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Remarks by Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the President's E Awards Ceremony


Thank you. It’s great to see all of you here during World Trade Month. We are delighted you could join us for this celebration. On behalf of President Trump, welcome to this very special ceremony.

I also welcome our special guests here from Capitol Hill:

  • Congressman Darrell Issa from California here to support Applied Membranes, Inc.;

  • Congressman David Kustoff from Tennessee here to support Orgill, Inc.;

  • Congressman Roger Marshall from Kansas here to support GT Manufacturing, Inc.;

  • Congresswoman Mimi Walters from California here to support the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce and Thomas Gallaway Corporation DBA Technologent; and

  • Congressman David Young from Iowa here to support Kuder, Inc.

Let’s have a big round of applause for our honorees, the Presidential E and E - Star winners. Thank you for going the extra mile to find customers beyond our borders.

Thanks also to Sarah Kemp and our fantastic export assistance team at the Commerce Department for helping U.S. businesses find new markets.

The “E” award was established in 1961 to promote global outreach by American entrepreneurs and businesses.

Less than 3 percent of American companies ever export anything – a condition that we are working very hard to change. Exports are critically important to economic growth and opportunity across our Nation:

  • They contributed $2.3 trillion to our economy in 2017. 
  • They support over 10 million good-paying jobs. 
  • They increase profits. 
  • They promote innovation. 
  • And they build global relationships.

Today, we are honoring 43 businesses and groups who have met the E-Award criteria and have had four successive years of export growth. Nine of them are previous E-Award winners, so will receive an E-Star.

Today’s winners include companies like Phenix Technology, which was started by two young fire captains in California. In 1968, Ronny Coleman and Ray Russell set out to design and build the best fire helmets available anywhere. Today, they have 100 sales distributors worldwide.

Rachel Carson established Helicopter Tech in 1995. Directing and managing the manufacture and delivery of key aviation components, Helicopter Tech has found buyers across Europe and Asia.

The National Marine Manufacturing Association represents the $121 billion recreational boating industry. In 2012, they launched an export development program to open the huge untapped global market for their nearly 35,000 members. Successes include a dealer agreement between an American boat builder and a Chinese-based boat dealer looking to add a U.S. brand to their portfolio. To date, five units have been purchased, totaling over $1 million in export sales. Another boat builder went from never exporting, to selling to more than a dozen countries around the world through a vibrant distributor network.

The Alabama Department of Commerce decided to build on its export promotion activities by leading trade missions to 21 countries over the past four years.

Leslie Smith jokes that he started his company, Heavy Equipment Resources of Florida (HERO), so he could spend more time traveling with his son Carlton, who is now VP and COO. HERO exports mining machinery and parts to Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. Exports represent 100 percent of the company’s revenues.

Exports also account for 100 percent of American Trading International’s revenues. ATI specializes in U.S. processed food and beverage exports. Their top customers in the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and South America.

We know it is not easy making the leap to global markets.

Every day, the Commerce Department’s trade specialists throughout the country and the world work with companies looking to grow their exports.

I’m sure each of you has a story about licensing, standards, or some other market obstacle you had to overcome to sell your product or service overseas.

For too long, countries around the world have put highly competitive American companies and workers at a disadvantage. Several of our winners today count China as their number-one international export market. Others include:

  • Hydro-Thermal Corporation;
  • Flexo Concepts;
  • Santa Monica College;
  • Colorado State University; and
  • iTep International, a business that assesses English language skills in 51 countries.

From day one, this Administration has been committed to leveling the playing field for businesses and organizations like yours. As you’ve seen in the news, we are working very hard to make China treat your companies more fairly and accept more imports.

But these efforts also extend the world over:

  • We are working to reduce the costs and complexities of entering new markets.
  • We are renegotiating trade agreements. 
  • We are actively investigating unfair trade practices.
  • And we have brought new energy to enforcing our trade agreements.

We are letting the world know that trade with America needs to be free, fair, and reciprocal.

So, thank you for your hard work in overseas markets, and here at home. We want E-Award flags displayed in every community throughout America.

Congratulations to each of you for your success, and we wish you the best of luck in the future.

It is my honor to present you with the President’s E- and E-Star awards.