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GT nearly doubles exports in 2 years

In the 60 years since GT Manufacturing began building grain driers, the company has grown from a company that builds driers for American farmers to a company whose sales are now almost exclusively for exports overseas.

 

In the 60 years since GT Manufacturing began building grain driers, the company has grown from a company that builds driers for American farmers to a company whose sales are now almost exclusively for exports overseas.

What the company has done to be named one of five finalists for this year’s Kansas Exporter of the Year is remarkable, said Lyle Peterson, representing the Kansas Department of Commerce at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The company’s progress in just the last of couple of years in particular has been impressive, Peterson said.

From 2009 to 2010, GT increased foreign exports by 30 percent; and from 2010 to 2011, they increase those sales by 43 percent, Peterson said. The company now exports to 73 countries, up by 30 from just 10 years ago, and is still adding new countries. They’ve recently added to the include West Africa and the United Arab Emirates, which aren’t easy markets.

The company started exporting driers in 1962 and by 1992, 80 percent of their sales were in exports. Now that’s over 90 percent.

The company’s jump in exports isn’t the only reason they were considered for Exporter of the Year. Peterson said the company also added and retained jobs, has a record for innovation and implementing innovative strategies, has effectively utilized international distributors, is committed to the state, local and rural economies, and has prospects for future growth.

They’ve also added to new products, including large capacity and fully automated driers.

GT President Dennis Pedersen told the city council that all they’ve accomplished is “the result of everyone working together” including the city, county and Economic Development Group.

“We finally got that five-story building down,” Pedersen said. “Without that, we would not have be able to do what we’ve done. We’ve increased our shipping capacity at least twice as much (because of that).”

GT owner Jim Sampson told the council very candidly that 20 years ago his intent was to close the company, but instead he pursued an opportunity to expand exports.

“I grow very slowly,” Sampson said. “I don’t expand beyond what I think I can go. As you can see, it took me 20 years to get to where we are today.”

Sampson said he has “other plans for the company” and intends to keep growing.

Following the council meeting, councilman Daton Hess thanked Sampson and Pedersen for making their part of Clay Center look better with the improvements and expansions the company made, particularly those by Dexter Park. Hess supported the demolition of the GT/Swift building that made it made possible for the company to expand south of Dexter Park.

Sampson said GT isn’t done with expansion at that site. He asked Hess if it was possible to open up part of Seventh Street along Dexter Park to more easily ship products out of that site.

Hess said he was confident the city and council would support any improvements GT wanted.

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