Henderson 1 of 8 excellent exporters

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 15, 2012

Frank Henderson, left, receives the award from Gov. Robert Bentley Wednesday.

Andalusia businessman Frank Henderson was honored in Montgomery Wednesday when Gov. Robert Bentley recognized Henderson Sewing Machine Co., Inc. for excellence in exports.

Bentley presented the seventh annual Governor’s Trade Excellence Awards in a ceremony at the Capitol. Each of the eight companies recognized excel at delivering Alabama goods to consumers overseas.

Henderson Sewing Machine is a global supplier of machines, parts and supplies for the sewn products industry, and also has an engineering team that designs custom automated systems.

Henderson said the local company does business with companies in more than 30 countries.

Receiving the award now is ironic, he said, because the company has been competing internationally since 1980. While the company’s global business is significant, it is the domestic part of the business that has grown the most since 2003, he said. Last year, the company did business with 63 different market segments.

The company was nominated for the award several months ago, and learned in January that it was a finalist.

“I was surprised and honored,” Henderson said. “But this is not about me, this is about our staff and our people. What’s happened here at Henderson has been a continual change for a lot of years.

“Our people have been able to change and adapt to varying market places, export being one,” he said. “It surprises people that a little company in Andalusia, Ala., is selling all over the world.”

When Henderson went to Montgomery on Wednesday, he said, “sitting right beside me was one of my customers.”

Two of the eight recipients were in textiles, he said.

Another winner was “a potential customer for our products, a manufacturer in Birmingham that I had actually been talking to.”

Being successful in business today is more about partnering and relationships, he said.

“If we could ever make people in this community and others understand, they’re not competing with someone across the street or one state over, they are literally competing around the world,” he said. “And it’s about education, from a design, creativity and innovation standpoint.”

The trade excellence awards program is coordinated by the Alabama Development Office and the Export Alabama Alliance. The program includes large, medium and small businesses as well as new-to-export companies from different parts of the state.

Other 2012 recipients are: Alignment Simple Solutions, Pelham; AZ Technology, Huntsville; CentraLite, Mobile; Dunbarton Corp, Dothan; Kappler Inc., Guntersville; MCM Custom Vehicles, Trussville; and Mid-America Engine, Warrior.