Made in Dane: Export Edition

Check out the global product reach of 20 local ventures.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

With all the “best of” lists Madison has made, it’s easy to overlook one of its more recent — and telling — distinctions. Last fall, Madison was listed as one of the top 10 emerging cities for international trade by Global Trade magazine.

In recognizing Madison, the publication cited an innovative startup culture, low unemployment, and intellectual firepower. “I would tout that as one of my favorite success stories because it’s reflective of the great activity of international trade across the Madison area,” says Jen Pino-Gallagher, bureau director in the division of agricultural development for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.

The Brookings Institute’s Global Cities Initiative took the magazine one further, quantifying Greater Madison’s trade prowess in a published report.  Brookings notes that in 2014 Madison exported $3.6 billion in goods, representing an 8.8% share of the metro economy and 24,000 jobs.

Yet there is plenty of room for growth, which is why we chose to devote our annual Made in Dane presentation to exports. Inside these pages, we present some of the products that make their way from Madison to the world.

Setting the stage

From the rigging division of Electronic Theatre Controls in Middleton comes a product that gives theatrical productions a real lift. The Prodigy EXO Hoist can be installed in almost any space, in almost any position, to perform tasks such as lifting the scenery, lights, drapes, and other suspended loads. If the show must go on with a different backdrop, Prodigy EXO Hoists can resolve space and access challenges for schools, night clubs, houses of worship, and community theaters.

The die is cast

When you’re Madison Kipp Corp. and you make customized, precision-machined components and system subassemblies, there is great variety for Canadian and Mexican automotive customers. Left to right: A serpentine belt tensioner pulley bracket used on Ford Super Duty Pickup Trucks with a 6.7-liter diesel engine; a front-axle tube used on the 1500 series GM pickup trucks Silverado/Sierra and large SUVs (Escalades, Tahoes, and Suburbans); and a rear differential cover installed on the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro (with a V-6) and the Cadillac CT6.

Taking a cue

Since 1965, Viking Cues have been made in Dane County, and the company has been renowned for constructing 100% American-made, custom pool cues, such as the Viking Model A-501 (pictured), that have improved billiards for professionals worldwide. The company employs innovative craftsmen, uses state-of-the-art CNC machinery, and applies a UV gloss finish to its cues. Passionate about constructing heirloom-quality billiards cues, Viking Cues selects only the finest materials: ebony, rosewood, abalone, maple, malachite, and other exotic materials that make its cues recognizable worldwide.

CobraHead cultivation

CobraHead LLC’s weeder and cultivator is a simple tool that must be hard to replicate because it’s not only sold here but also in Canada, Australia, and the U.K. Part of the small, all-purpose garden tool is made in Cambridge, and it’s popular because it weeds, cultivates, digs, and plants with a tempered steel blade that has a unique cobra-head shape. The blade easily cuts through soil, grabs weeds, and pulls them out intact.

All the bulls and whistles

Did you know 21 billion gallons of milk are produced in the U.S. each year? And that Americans consume more than 24 billion pounds of beef annually? Even though production is increasing, the number of animals is decreasing. How is this possible? Thanks to improvements made by ABS Global in DeForest, animal genetics are breeding the most efficient, cost-effective animals. The company’s mission is simple: to pioneer animal genetic improvements that help feed the world.



Shear specifications

As part of an up-and-coming industry, Shear Lacrosse specializes in manufacturing lacrosse equipment. Shear is the only exclusively Made in USA manufacturer, with products such as the Crook X lacrosse head being made in Madison. Vigorously trying to gain notoriety in a rapidly growing sport, the Crook X has gained a national reputation as a high-performance, face-off head that is specifically manufactured to enhance the qualities necessary for lacrosse players to be successful all season long.

Dairyland device

Dairyland Electrical Industries Inc. is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of solid-state decoupling products used in the energy industry. Manufactured under certified ISO 9001:2008 processes, Dairyland devices such as the Solid-State Decoupler (SSD) offer pipeline and power utility clients a premium safety grounding product that isolates and improves their corrosion-prevention systems. It also protects equipment and personnel from safety hazards such as lightning strikes and AC faults.

Cool tool

Sun Prairie’s Imperial Blades, a leading innovator and manufacturer in the oscillating saw blade industry, is internationally known for its titanium-enhanced Storm Series blades and other products for cutting, grinding, scraping, and sanding. Due to its universal fit, saw model Storm T340 is coveted by multitool owners, and remodeling is made easier with the blade’s capability to precisely cut through multiple applications, including various metals, with little effort and even less time and cost.

Eradicating rodents

Before Madison’s Bell Laboratories partnered with the Charles Darwin Foundation to make a rodenticide, the island of Pinzón in the Galapagos chain was overrun with non-native rodents that preyed on the eggs and young of the Galapagos giant tortoise. The tortoise had not been able to naturally reproduce in more than 150 years but after one aerial application, scientists began to find baby tortoises where none had been seen for more than a century.

Extremely exhausted

We are all familiar with the exhaust mufflers on our cars, but did you ever stop to consider the exhaust system for a rail locomotive? Universal Acoustic and Emission Technologies in Stoughton designs and manufactures exhaust components for locomotive applications. Locomotives are designed to last for decades so the exhaust components must do the same, and Universal has been providing exhaust components — manifolds, turbocharger assemblies, and silencers — to the global rail industry for more than 30 years.



Carbon-dating CAMS

Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) is a technique for high-precision ratio measurements of elements such as carbon, iodine, and others. A subset of AMS is known as radioactive carbon dating using carbon masses 12, 13, and 14, and the National Electrostatics Corp.’s CAMS system yields crucial information about the age of organic-based samples such as tapestries, bones, and organic compounds up to 75,000 years old. The Middleton-based NEC has provided more than 55 carbon dating systems around the world.

Monumental mark

Making your mark on the world is a monumental task, but Berntsen International Inc. has placed its mark in more than 100 countries with its custom-printed, bronze survey markers and monuments that map the global infrastructure. Founded in 1972, the Madison-based company’s bronze markers and monuments provide corrosion resistance, strength, and durability, making the products suitable for various terrains, and it continues to be a leading innovator of infrastructure-marking products worldwide.

Crime stopper

When crime-scene samples are collected from less-than-pristine conditions, how do forensic scientists help solve crimes by identifying incriminating DNA? The first step of this process involves isolation of pure DNA, which is free from inhibitors and other cellular components. The DNA IQ Casework Pro Kit, along with the Maxwell 16 Forensic Instrument, manufactured by Promega Corp., is used in crime labs around the world to isolate and purify DNA from casework samples at crime scenes.

Successful sequencing

Next-generation sequencing is changing the fields of research from microbes to personalized medicine and Middleton-based Lucigen is at the forefront. The discovery of critical genes starts with successful sequencing of DNA samples, and Lucigen’s technology simplifies DNA library preparation to improve outcomes. The biotech company provides specialized kits and services that enable scientists worldwide to successfully sequence DNA from difficult samples, and it’s one of many ways the Madison biotech community is contributing to scientific advances.

Bike rack built for two

Indoor bike storage is a universal need, and Madison’s Saris Cycling Group is the proud maker of related products that just received a “Good Design” award presented by the Chicago Athenaeum, a museum of architecture and design. With its wood face and aesthetic details, the Saris “Hottie,” which stores up to two bikes, is one of those well-designed innovations. The accessories shelf gives riders space to empty their pockets or charge their phones while awaiting their next adventure.



Globally geared

As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of gear motors and speed reducers, NORD Drivesystems in Waunakee has a wide range of products that could be exported, and its motors and gearboxes are installed on machines and in factories worldwide. The U.S. headquarters in Wisconsin, one of five North American assembly locations, helps to support business functions in both Canada and Mexico by providing weekly shipments of parts and assembled gear motors.

Stress management

Stress Photonics Inc. in Madison manufactures and sells stress-measuring instruments for the purpose of characterizing engineering materials and structures. As company president Jon Lesniak explains, typical applications are glass, silicon for solar cells, and automotive components, which is where the EdgeMaster-2 comes in. The product is a photoelastic stress analysis system for measuring edge stresses in clear, tinted, flat, or curved glass and works on windshields, side windows, and back windows.

Ginning up spirit

Named for the passage of water between Washington Island and the northern tip of Door County, Madison’s own Death’s Door Spirits crafts a gin with wheat and juniper berries from the island. Sold in 19 countries stretching from Canada to Cambodia, the simple botanical blend of juniper, coriander, and fennel atop a base spirit of wheat, malt, and corn is often touted as one of the world’s best gins and has won numerous national and international awards.

No wonder there's discovery

Have you ever thought about how we get from wonder to actual discovery? It takes the right scientific people with the right ideas using research tools such as DNASTAR’s innovative software. The Madison company’s DNA, RNA, and protein sequence analysis software helps scientists intrigued by the wonder of our molecular world advance their research, allowing them to solve important problems such as creating new vaccines for the Ebola virus or understanding other rare diseases.

Cardiac caretaker

In the fight against heart disease, the ACTRO developed by Madison’s InvivoSciences Inc. in partnership with Gilson Inc. is a brand new weapon that supports the foundation for making new heart patches and screening drug candidates with engineered tissues derived from patients’ cells. This cell culture robot helps scientists handle a larger number of patient-specific stem cell lines for regenerative and precision medicine research and drug development. ACTRO frees scientists from doing labor-intensive work and standardizes the growth of different cell lines.



State resources for export advice

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC)

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

Nonprofits dedicated to international trade

Madison International Trade Association (MITA)

Stateline World Trade Association

World Trade Association of Wisconsin

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