On Wednesday, eight companies from across Alabama were honored for their achievements in exporting goods and services around the world.
The 2017 Governor's Trade Excellence Awards were presented in Montgomery during a ceremony at the state Capitol, which was followed by a luncheon hosted by the Export Alabama Alliance.
The honorees represent a diverse mix of the state's business community, including major global manufacturers, small independent businesses and service providers that are critical to other companies' success in overseas markets.
"Every year, I am impressed by the level of exporting activities among the winners of the Trade Excellence Awards, and this year's group is no exception," Governor Robert Bentley said. "Innovative fingerprint ID systems, heavy duty military trailers, high-performance light trucks and organic, freshly milled flours are just a few of the Alabama-made products that have helped us reach an all-time high for state exports."
Alabama exports topped $20.5 billion in 2016, breaking the previous annual record set in 2012. The export figures, released last month, showed significant gains in transportation equipment, chemicals and paper products.
"Consumers in markets across the globe are learning what it means to be "Made in Alabama,' and they want more of it," said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. "The quality, craftsmanship and ingenuity of the goods and services provided by Alabamians is second to none."
Here is the full list of this year's winners:
Advanced Optical Systems Inc. of Huntsville delivers smart imaging systems such as target recognizing missile seekers, robotic helicopter cargo systems and space docking sensors. The company also offers ANDI OTG, a completely touchless and germ-free biometric identity solution that's the fastest and most accurate fingerprint identity system in the world.
APM Terminals Mobile LLC is a leading global port and cargo inland services provider. The Mobile company has a presence in 69 countries, providing the world's most geographically balanced global terminal network with 73 ports, nine new ports under construction and 10 facilities in expansion mode -- along with an inland services network spanning 140 locations.
Birmingham's BioGX develops molecular products and provides partner-specified formulation and manufacturing services for molecular reagents. Pharmaceutical partners can test human DNA samples for inter-species cross-contamination that might affect clinical trial results. Its international sales growth has exceeded its growth in domestic sales.
Fontaine Military Products of Jasper has a heritage of building heavy duty flatbed trailers for military forces around the world. Its products include 40-ton trailers for the U.S. Air Force, vertical launch trailers for the U.S. Navy, 70-ton tank transport trailers used in the Middle East, and complex communications and transport trailers for the Missile Defense Agency.
Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, based in Lincoln, serves as American Honda Motor Co.'s largest production source of light truck vehicles. Honda's Alabama-built vehicles are exported to approximately 45 countries across the globe, which represented more than $1 billion in export sales in 2015.
Prattville's SmarterServices offers a suite of software solutions that empower nearly 500 educational institutions -- K-12 schools, colleges, universities -- to analyze relevant data about student readiness and organize proctoring tasks. Its products include the SmarterMeasure suite of assessments and SmarterProctoring, which manages the proctoring workflow for students, faculty, and proctors.
Synovus provides international banking services through its International Department located in Birmingham, while the Trade Services division helps exporters navigate international legal issues and methods of payment by offering export letters of credit, standby letters of credit and documentary collection services. Synovus is one of 18 banks in the U.S. that has been given preferred lender status by the Small Business Administration for its Export Working Capital Program.
To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co. of Fitzpatrick offers freshly milled flours from organic sprouted grains, with the sprouting, drying and milling processes all done in-house, and its products are available around the world. The company produces more than 50,000 pounds of flour each week and exports to countries across the globe, including New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and Japan.
Hilda Lockhart, director of Commerce's Office of International Trade, said Alabama companies have unlimited opportunities to develop a successful exporting strategy, as shown by this year's slate of award winners.
"This year's recipients represent a wide range of Alabama's economy from food products to automobiles to service entities that help our companies export," Lockhart said. "Regardless of their industry, the companies all share the ability to overcome competition outside of the U.S. and to grow and expand in complex markets abroad."