OCT. 26, 2022
MILWAUKEE, WI. – 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.
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
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,
ABOUT THE WISCONSIN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development
efforts for the state by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses,
communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. Working with more
than 600 regional and local partners, WEDC develops and delivers solutions representative
of a highly responsive and coordinated economic development network. Visit wedc.org or
follow WEDC on Twitter @WEDCNews to learn more.