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Source: U.S. Small Business Administration news release

(DES MOINES, Iowa) - The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced the selection of Ritchie Industries, Inc. in Conrad as the 2023 SBA Small Business Exporter of the Year for the state of Iowa. In addition, the company was also selected as the SBA Regional Exporter of the Year winner for SBA's Region 7, which includes the state of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

Ritchie Industries produces livestock watering tanks that are insulated, heated, and free flowing to supply continuous fresh water to livestock. The company's products are suitable for beef and dairy cattle, hogs, horses, sheep, goats, and exotic livestock. The products are built to withstand extreme weather conditions. Products range from a single stall waterer to fountains that accommodate 500 head of cattle. Some products are built to attach to a stall or fence line while others are free standing. Products are generally heavily insulated and are constructed of stainless steel and/or roto-cast polyethylene for a long, freeze-free service life.

Thomas Ritchie, an Iowa farmer, invented an automatic animal watering system in 1921 for the purpose of keeping his own livestock supplied with fresh water. His invention became popular among the farmers in the area, so he patented the concept and sold it to farmers around the state. C. D. Wilson, Sr. purchased the business in 1943 and moved it to Conrad, Iowa. In 2004, Clifford D. Wilson, Jr. sold the Company to the Ritchie Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Ritchie is currently led by President and CEO Robert Amundson who joined the company as a design engineer in 2006 and has since worked his way up through the company.

Exporting represents over 22 percent of Ritchie's sales, with products being exported to Canada, Europe, Japan, and the Middle East. Most of the sales to Canada, Europe and Asia are for larger units that are used in cattle and dairy operations. Exports are responsible for creating 17 jobs through exporting.

Ritchie utilized the SBA's State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Initiative to grow its export sales. Services under the STEP Program are funded in part by SBA nationally and delivered by state government organizations. In Iowa, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) leverages the federal funding with an existing IEDA program to support small business' specific marketing efforts and expand their export markets. Last fall Ritchie used the program to participate in the Iowa pavilion at EuroTier 2022, in Hanover, Germany, the world's leading trade fair for professional animal farming and livestock management.

In addition to the STEP Grant funding, Ritchie Industries also benefited from the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program, which supported the company's operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The SBA Iowa District Office is thrilled to recognize Ritchie Industries' success during National Small Business Week," said Jayne Armstrong, district director of the SBA's Iowa District Office. "It is a great example of the economic impact Iowa's rural manufacturers have on international markets. We are especially proud to collaborate with IEDA to support the state's successful export efforts."

Ritchie Industries was nominated for this award by Peggy Kerr, Team Leader, International Trade Office, Iowa Economic Development Authority.

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