HUNTINGTON — Three Huntington businesses were among 30 in West Virginia to receive the governor’s commendation for International Market Entry Award, which is given to companies that made their first sale to a new country in the previous calendar year.
Steel of West Virginia (SWVA), Rubberlite and Wilson Welding Co. were recognized by state officials in a virtual ceremony Wednesday.
“(West Virginia) Governor (Jim) Justice’s award recognizing Steel of West Virginia’s expansion of sales to three new countries is a testament to the innovation and dedication to quality and on-time delivery displayed by our 550 Huntington employees,” said SWVA general manager Chuck Abbott.
“Steel of West Virginia faces fierce pricing pressures from foreign competitors, who are often government subsidized and do not have to bear the costs of protecting their environment and providing workers with the safe working conditions and wages and benefits which our USA workers have and deserve. But we are able to compete on a world-class level because of our employees’ dedication to quality, and customer support and their entrepreneurial drive. SWVA constantly strives to create new markets by developing new products and new solutions with our American steel.”
SWVA sales representative Jean Simmons added that international sales are not new to the company.
“Approximately 15% of Steel of West Virginia’s 2019 sales were international. We sold steel in 12 diverse countries in 2019, from Italy to Brazil to South Korea,” Simmons said. “The international shipments to Bermuda and Argentina involved specially designed I-beams that Steel of West Virginia created just for the solar industry. These I-beams are strong and light, and provide the ideal solution to hold solar panels in large solar farms that are going up across the country and around the world. Solar has been a growing industry for us even when some markets we traditionally served have contracted. When you see a big solar farm, you see acres and acres filled with our beams underneath the solar panels. We are excited to be a leading worldwide supplier of this product.”
“This new solar market has been a very important contributor to Steel of West Virginia’s ability to provide employment to residents of the Tri-State,” Abbott added. “In addition to our 550 employees who are melting and rolling right here in Huntington the steel beams used for these solar farms, our parent company, Steel Dynamics, has invested $18 million and created over 100 new Tri-State jobs involving the fabrication and coating of this product.”
Rubberlite Senior Vice President of Sales Mike Strickland said the company exported cellular rubber and plastics to Thailand.
“We have been exporting for the past 25 to 27 years, and we celebrate our 34th anniversary in October,” Strickland said. “We have grown our exporting business substantially over the last 10 to 12 years.”
Strickland said the recognition honors all 165 employees at Rubberlite.
“This is great for our whole team whose hard work makes this possible,” he said.
Wilson Welding Co., in the 900 block of Adams Avenue in Huntington, was also recognized for exporting steel chill scrap chute to Canada.
Justice congratulated all 30 companies.
“From the bottom of my heart and with the gratitude of all those across our great state,” Justice said, “keep making West Virginia shine for the whole world to see. I’m so proud.”
In 2019, the state’s exports were valued at $5.9 billion.
Since 2002, more than 2,200 export awards have been presented to more than 170 companies for selling products to nearly 200 countries. This year, West Virginia businesses from 17 counties received the award for exporting goods and services to 60 countries.
The commendation, which is sponsored by the West Virginia Development Office and West Virginia District Export Council, began in 2020 and is informally referred to as the Governor’s Export Award.