Simulife recognized with export achievement award

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Published: November 6,2006

State businesses that are reaching out to the world through exporting were recognized by Gov. Haley Barbour and the Mississippi District Export Council in a recent awards ceremony.

The governor presented the U.S. Commerce Department’s Export Achievement Certificate to Simulife of Ocean Springs. The award goes to a business that has benefited from the department’s commercial service export assistance to make its first export sale or open new foreign markets. Barbour also honored members of Mississippi’s export community for their contributions to trade.

Derrick Charbonnet, owner of Simulife, said the award will heighten awareness of what he’s doing and give the business credibility. Simulife is a one-man shop that Charbonnet began 10 years ago as a product development lab to produce a line of industry products.

“I do product engineering, design and development, and I like working for myself, but I want enough products that I can hire people to produce them,” he said. “My joy is taking an idea and turning it into something that can be produced and marketed; something that is useful in business and industry.”

The 47-year-old licensed engineer developed and designed dog sled runners that are produced and exported to Norway. “Yeah, dog sled runners in Mississippi,” he said with a chuckle. “I make the small pieces, someone else makes the large parts, and I ship them to Norway.”

Currently, Charbonnet is exporting only to Norway, but there is interest in his product from Sweden. The plastic sled runners are for industrial sleds that allow easier and faster movement. He benefited from export counseling and other services from the Mississippi U.S. Export Assistance Center. As a result, the company was able to sign up a distributor in Norway that resulted in several thousand dollars of sales with a potential for much more.

“Mississippi companies like Simulife represent some of the best in American creativity and ingenuity that is working to satisfy consumer demand around the world,” Gov. Barbour said. “Working together with businesses like these, Mississippi District Export Council members are helping companies explore their full export potential, and that helps promote economic growth and jobs here in the Magnolia State. I congratulate Simulife on its outstanding export accomplishment and the contributions of Mississippi District Export Council members to international trade.”

Carol Moore, director of the Mississippi Export Council, wants more state companies to know about the services the office can provide. Members of the council are approved by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and serve three-year terms.

“Their purpose is to serve as mentors and help solve issues,” she said. “As they meet with companies and find they’re suitable, they will nominate them for the council.”

She said exporting is definitely picking up among state businesses. “We see an increase. That’s why we have members to go to communities and talk about exporting. Last year $4 billion worth of goods were exported from the state. There’s a great demand in terms of the global market.”

Barbour presented the Commerce Department’s Certificate of Appreciation for Achievement in Trade to members of the council who have partnered with the U.S. Commercial Service in promotion of exports.

Those recognized included: Roger E. Barlow, the Catfish Institute; Courtland Gray, Peavey Electronics; Jason Brookins, Hinds County Economic Development District; Carol Hardwick, Mississippi Economic Development Council; John L. Clark, Kitchens Brothers Manufacturing; Jim Harper, Small Business Development Center, Raymond; Tony Brown, Howard Industries; Lee Jones, J.M. Jones Lumber Company; Janice Coleman, Tupelo Furniture Market; and Stephen R. Lake, Omega Motion.

Others were: Elizabeth Cleveland, Mississippi Development Authority; Farhang Niroomand, University of Southern Mississippi; Jim Dawkins, Marketing Service Inc.; Diana Parker, FMC Energy Systems; Mike Edwald, Day-Brite Service Inc.; Tommy Satterthwaite, Sanderson Farms; Jim Finley, Craft Co.; and Barbara Travis, Mississippi World Trade Center.

With its network of offices across the U.S. and in more than 80 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. In 2005, the worldwide U.S. Commercial Service helped generate nearly 12,500 export success worth billions of dollars in U.S. export sales. For more information, visit their website at www.export.gov.

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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