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Published: Friday, 5/18/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Exports from Toledo on rise

3 local companies honored for helping U.S. economy

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

In the last four years, New Waste Concepts Inc. of Perrysburg has grown its exports from about 4 percent of its business to about 50 percent.

For that, the manufacturer of environmental cleanup and control products was recognized Thursday with the President's "E" Award for Exports, the nation's top recognition for success in increasing U.S. exports.

"We think we're doing a good job in terms of taking our products overseas, but it's nice to be recognized by somebody else," said Tony Knight, chief executive officer of New Waste Concepts. His company was one of three Toledo-area businesses to be given the award. Also recognized were Bionix Development Corp. of Toledo and International Projects Inc. of Holland.

In all, six Ohio companies were among the 41 honored at the White House by officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The annual awards were created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.

A large portion of Mr. Knight's business goes to Australia and New Zealand, where his company has an estimated 60 percent market share in daily landfill cover. Instead of a traditional six-inch layer of soil, New Waste Concepts makes a mix of old newsprint, clays, and polymers that can be laid a quarter-inch thick, saving space and money for landfill operators. He said the company's soil remediation products also are growing the business in Canada, Europe, and Asia.

"The stronger we are, the stronger we can compete overseas, the stronger our country will be, I think," Mr. Knight said.

Bionix Development sells medical devices manufactured in Toledo across 47 countries. Its primary products are disposable devices such as ear irrigators and positioning tables for patients who are receiving radiation therapy to shrink cancerous tumors.

"All these products are made here in the United States. They're shipped out of Toledo," said Scott Buehrer, vice president of sales at Bionix. "The fastest-growing part of our market by far is the international market. We are a very well-established, 28-year-old company, and we're an established player in the United States. To grow our business, we have to go offshore."

Mr. Buehrer declined to say what percentage of sales by Bionix, which is privately held, are done outside the states. However, he said it is "substantial and growing."

"It's definitely creating jobs here in Toledo, and we grew right through the recession," Mr. Buehrer said. The company employs about 100 people in Toledo.

He credited Ben Ovenden, the international sales manager for radiation therapy, and Paola Greene, the international sales manager for medical technologies, with growing the company's overseas business. The two travel extensively and frequently represent the company at trade shows.

Ms. Greene, a native of Costa Rica who recently earned American citizenship, has also focused on growing Bionix's business in Latin America. In her two years with Bionix, she's helped the company add about 30 distributors.

The Commerce Department said International Projects provides international trade training and consulting. No one with the company could be reached Thursday.

The value of Ohio's exports grew about 12 percent last year to $46.4 billion, according to the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration.

Exports to France grew 22 percent, while exports to China grew 20 percent, the agency said.

"Ohio is well-represented among this year's 'E' Award winners, and provides a great example of how companies from America's heartland are working to expand their export sales to global destinations," Francisco Sanchez, the Commerce Department's undersecretary for international trade, said in a statement. "Eighty-five percent of world economic growth over the next five years will take place outside of the United States.

"Businesses that truly want to excel and grow know that exporting provides them with an entirely new customer base -- helping support millions of high-paying jobs across the country."

President Obama has made increasing U.S. exports a priority, setting an ambitious goal in 2010 through the National Export Initiative of doubling U.S. exports by 2014, something he said would support an additional 2 million U.S. jobs.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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