FARGO, N.D. – Global Electric Motorcars, the world’s largest manufacturer of road legal neighborhood electric vehicles, was recently named North Dakota’s 2008 Exporter of the Year.
Gov. John Hoeven presented Global Electric Motorcars President Richard Kasper with the 2008 North Dakota Exporter of the Year Award during the Global Business Connections Conference held March 10 and 11 at Fargo’s Ramada Plaza Suites. Hoeven also presented Wells Fargo Bank with North Dakota’s International Business Resource Award which is given to an organization that demonstrates an exceptional commitment to increasing North Dakota’s international business.
“Global Electric Motorcars built its first vehicle 10 years ago and has since become a world leader in the development, production and global sale of road-legal electric vehicles,” Hoeven said in presenting the exporter award. “GEM has overcome significant export challenges and truly represents the innovation and drive that has led our state’s continued growth in the international marketplace.”
In 2008, Global Electric Motorcars’ export sales increased 105 percent from the previous year. Exports, as a percentage of total sales, rose from 12 percent to 22 percent. Today, GEM has about 150 dealers throughout the world. A Chrysler Company, GEM employs about 100 people at its Fargo plant where six models of the energy efficient, eco-friendly vehicles are built.
GEM has overcome significant challenges to expand its presence in the international marketplace. Initially, the manufacturer shipped its completed vehicles to markets in Europe. To become a more efficient exporter, the company made major changes in its manufacturing process and in a distributor agreement to ship “knock-down kits” for finished assembly in France.
Last year, Wells Fargo Bank worked with more than 200 North Dakota businesses that are engaged in some level of international commerce. Bob Pelka, vice president of structured trade finance, facilitated trade for manufacturers involved in multi-million dollar export sales and small businesses that are new to export.
Pelka, a member of the North Dakota Trade Office board of directors, regularly volunteers his time to educate groups of North Dakota exporters and international buyers on business finance, helping turn export opportunities into real transactions, Trade Office Executive Director Susan Geib said.
About 200 people attended Global Business Connections which was sponsored by the North Dakota Trade Office and its network of international business partners. Nearly 400 people registered for the conference, but a blizzard prevented many from attending.
Global Business Connections included an exhibition, panel discussions and presentations from bestselling author Ted Fishman; Barry Batcheller, President & CEO of Fargo-based Appareo Systems and Rich Goldsbury, president of Bobcat Americas. Presentations also featured John Johnson, president and CEO of CHS Inc.; Bill Owens, chairman and CEO of AEA Holdings Asia and Doug Burgum, chairman of Arthur Ventures and former Senior Vice President of Microsoft Corporation.