By Sheryl Roadcap
PIQUA — Hartzell Hardwoods received two prestigious awards, the 2023 Great Lakes Regional Exporter of the Year and 2023 Ohio Small Business Exporter of the Year, Wednesday morning, May 10, at its Piqua headquarters on South Roosevelt Avenue.
Tom Coble, vice president of Hartzell Hardwoods sales, accepted the regional exporter of the year award from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) White House appointed region five administrator, Geri Sanchez Aglipay, who oversees SBA programs, offices, and operations in the SBA’s Great Lakes region. Hartzell also celebrated being named the Small Business Exporter of the Year award Wednesday, which Sanchez Aglipay pointed out the business had to have achieved before reaching the Great Lakes Regional level for consideration.
The celebration comes during this year’s National Small Business Week.
Hartzell Hardwoods is a producer of walnut lumber and other high-quality hardwoods.
“You guys knocked it out of the park. Not only won the state of Ohio, but then went to the regional. That encompasses, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and the two districts of Ohio. So, think about that, they are the No. 1 exporter for the whole Great Lakes region,” SBA Columbus District Director Everett M. Woodel Jr. “That’s tremendous; kudos to you.”
“I’m just really proud that we have a small business here in the Great Lakes region, in the Buckeye state as well, winning this award and representing the power of small business and creating jobs in our local economy, but also harnessing exporting,” said Sanchez Aglipay in part before presenting the awards.
Coble gave a quick recap of Hartzell’s history since being established in 1875. He praised the company and Hartzell family he works for, which is a six-generation business.
He then went on to thank all for coming when he said to city of Piqua and Miami County officials, and others, gathered, “Just want to say thank you for the presentation of the two awards. We are incredibly humbled and honored to win both the Great Lakes Region, the SBA Exporter of the Year, the state of Ohio and Southwest Ohio District. Thank you so much for coming and presenting those with us. Thank you everyone who is here today for taking the time out of your busy schedules to be here and celebrate with us. ..”
According to a press release from the SBA’s Columbus district office, “The family-owned firm has long been an innovator in the hardwood industry, from the company’s pioneering role in the steaming of walnut to its current position as a leading producer of top-quality thick lumber. Hartzell Hardwoods is a generous supporter of the Piqua community and with its employees participates in projects benefiting local schools and foundations. In addition, the business has created the Hartzell Norris Trust, which funds major charitable projects in Piqua and the surrounding region.
“The firm used SBA State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant funds administered through the State of Ohio Department of Development’s IMAGE program to expand its sales abroad. To become the Great Lakes Regional Exporter of the Year, the company first competed to become the SBA Columbus District Office Exporter of the Year, then competed to be the Ohio Exporter of the Year, and finally competed against Exporters of the Year from the Great Lakes states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to win the regional distinction,” the release said.
“National Small Business Week is the most important week of the year for the SBA. The Biden-Harris Administration is proud to be investing in America. This year we’re spotlighting the resilience of America’s entrepreneurs who help build the economy from the middle out and bottom up, versus an economy that trickles from the top down,” said Sanchez Aglipay. “It’s a privilege to recognize Hartzell Hardwoods. They expertly utilized SBA’s international trade programs to exponentially grow its global sales, which have increased jobs and wealth in Ohio and the Great Lakes region.”
“It is indeed notable that an exporter from central and southern Ohio has been named Great Lakes Regional Exporter of the Year for 2023,” said Woodel. “SBA is grateful to Kathleen Marshalek, director of the Ohio Small Business Export Assistance Center at Wright State University’s International Trade Assistance Center, for nominating Hartzell Hardwoods as Exporter of the Year. The company truly embodies the spirit of the award: it has been an industry leader for more than a century, has experienced outstanding growth in sales and number of employees, and is devoted to serving its community. Congratulations to the entire Hartzell Hardwoods team.”
Coble told Miami Valley Today Hartzell Hardwoods exports globally. The business sends its products to Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Canary Islands, China, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, U.A.E, United Kingdom and Vietnam. Hartzell Hardwoods purchases lumber from the top sawmills in North America.
He explained that during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company got creative to sustain business by switching in person meetings, temporarily, to Zoom presentations, and as a result, Hartzell Hardwoods thrived.
Sanchez Aglipay said, “Hartzell Hardwoods is really wonderful representation of growing their sales from $43 million to $60 million from 2019 to now.”
“This is really a testament in representing the resiliency of small businesses to a historic comeback and empowering our nation’s economy under the Biden-Harris Administration reinvesting. We know that small businesses are the backbone of our economy, but they are also taking advantage of exporting opportunities. and making sure they get a piece of pie; that 96% of consumers,” she said.