Companies that make products as diverse as swim fins for amputees to harness systems for pipe installations have been selected to represent the state’s export community at an annual trade exposition later this month.

The Maine International Trade Center, which will host Trade Day on May 25 in Bangor, introduced six local businesses in a showcase to increase the visibility of companies involved in exporting their goods. The companies range from long-standing manufacturers to new startups, and were selected out of 14 applicants by a jury, said MITC President Janine Bisaillon-Cary. Criteria for winning included having a new product with export potential and preparing for international sales, she said.

Maine’s exports increased 5 percent from 2015 to 2016, while overall U.S. exports contracted 3.3 percent, according to a recent report from the Maine Development Foundation. The state’s exports were worth $2.9 billion last year.

Yale Cordage, a synthetic rope manufacturer from Saco, was one of the companies featured Tuesday during a pop-up showcase at One City Center in Portland. Yale Cordage also was named exporter of the year for 2017 by MITC.

Skip Yale, sales manager for Yale Cordage, said exports make up about 25-30 percent of the company’s business. International sales grew after the company’s involvement with the America’s Cup sailing race, and now Europe is its main export destination, Yale said.

“We like to say you find our products on all continents, all oceans and in outer space,” he said.


On Tuesday, Yale was promoting the ZipGrip, a type of harness used to install pipes. The system was developed primarily for offshore pipe laying and maintenance and has been sold in Brazil and Singapore, Yale said.

FMI Composites, a Biddeford high-tech materials company, doesn’t have an export market yet, but sees international sales as a way to diversify, said sales and marketing director Dan Godbout.

The company specializes in making rocket components for the aerospace and defense industries, but would like to branch out into commercial products, Godbout said. It presented at a recent composites show in Paris, and Europe is a strong market for a developing line of products for the Formula 1 racing circuit. The company is also developing a line of prosthetic components and is in talks with a high-end Swiss watchmaker, Godbout said.

For Zootility Tools, a Portland company that makes thin multi-tools and other metal items with animal designs, moving into the international market made sense, said sales and marketing director Jamieson Webking. The company started with a Kickstarter campaign 4½ years ago and has grown to include a line of eight products sold at 2,700 retailers in all 50 states. About a third of the company’s Kickstarter investors were international and the company has always shipped overseas, Webking said.

After a trade show in the United Kingdom, Zootility locked in orders from companies in New Zealand, Singapore, Australia and Abu Dhabi, as well as the U.K. and Canada. “It just seems like the right next step for us,” Webking said.

Other companies selected by MITC are Deep Blue Designs, a Scarborough company that produces camera tripods; RainWise Inc., a Trenton company that makes weather-monitoring products; and Amp Fins LLC, from Presque Isle and Kennebunk, which makes custom swim fins for above- and below-knee amputees.


Correction: This story was updated at 1:01 p.m. on May 4, 2017 to correct the number of retailers Zootility works with.

Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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