Static control firm lands top trade award

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MECHANIC FALLS – A relatively small firm in this small Maine town has found the key to success at an international level.

While many Maine manufacturers have seen their jobs go to China, Electro Static Technology-ITW Inc., is thriving here and shipping much of its product from Maine to that Asian nation.

The firm’s success will be recognized when it receives one of the Maine International Trade Center’s top awards: Exporter of the Year. The award will be presented Thursday by Gov. John E. Baldacci at the 26th annual International Trade Day at the University of Maine in Orono.

Electro Static Technology, located near the intersections of Routes 26 and 11 near Poland Regional High School, is a global manufacturer and designer of static control devices. The company is a division of Illinois Tool Works, a $10 billion multinational conglomerate operating in 44 countries.

The company was founded in the 1980s by James McNulty. The Windham resident had operated from smaller business locations in Lewiston and Greene before building the facility in Mechanic Falls. He sold the company to ITW in 1999.

Since then, it has become a leader in making static control parts for large multinational designers and manufacturers.

William Oh, general manager at EST, said, “About 95 percent of our product is shipped overseas.” It’s now made from conductive plastic rather than heavier metal, so manufacturing in Maine and shipping worldwide is possible.

Oh said it’s a unique product made in Maine, and the local company can deliver it with better quality and at the same price as competitors.

EST’s market is primarily the print industry, air conditioning motor industry, and power generation industry.

“The strength of being in Maine is that the people are very creative,” Oh said. He said employees were largely responsible for building automated machinery used at the plant.

The company grew from 10,000 square feet to its present 26,000 square feet and now has 26 employees. Oh said he expects more expansion to come.

Recipients of the MITC awards are businesses or individuals who have demonstrated outstanding success in international trade, and there’s also another Androscoggin County winner at the MITC event.

The Foreign Direct Investor of the Year award will go to Nestlé Waters North America Inc., which is the parent company of Maine’s Poland Spring Water Corp.

Nestlé Waters North America Inc. is a subsidiary of Nestle Corp., headquartered in Switzerland. Nestlé is the world’s biggest food and beverage company. Sales at the end of 2004 were approximately $65 billion.

The award to Nestlé Waters North America Inc. recognizes the firm’s continuing investments in the growth and success of the Poland Spring label in Maine.

MITC’s President’s Award will go to Forum Francophone des Affaires, an international network of trading partners based in 52 French-speaking countries and regions worldwide.

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