Attendees at the first Export Business Showcase hosted by the Washington County Local Development Corp. on Thursday in Greenwich are likely to see some companies they’ve never heard of.
It’s not that they’re new; most have been around for decades. They’ve just been quietly working away on products that, in many cases, are destined for nationwide or global markets.
Andy Nolan, co-owner of Eastern Castings in Cambridge, describes himself as “cautiously optimistic” about his foundry’s future.
“We are somewhat of a dinosaur of an industry, but we have a niche,” Nolan said Tuesday during a tour of his facility at 2 Pearl St. in the Cambridge industrial park.
Eastern Castings is a permanent mold foundry, making aluminum parts for other companies that put those pieces into their products. There are about 30 businesses working with Eastern Castings today, and Nolan said he’s begun to notice an uptick in activity from those customers.
He credited a rediscovery of the value of American-made products, as well as a rise in the cost of outsourcing work to places like China.
“I don’t think anybody wanted to leave because of quality,” Nolan said of firms that made outsourcing decisions in the 1990s and last decade. “I think prices are going up over there (in China), and companies are finding an advantage in coming back.”
Nolan knows it’s unlikely he’ll come back from Thursday’s expo with a raft of new contracts to fill, but for Eastern Castings, the event is more about getting noticed, Nolan said.
“Any exposure you get now is certainly good,” he said. “We’ve been down here for 25 years, and nobody really knows we’re here.”
In fact, one of Eastern Castings’ biggest customers, Telescope Casual Furniture in Granville, didn’t know there was an aluminum foundry like Eastern in the area until a company official read about the Cambridge firm in a newspaper article, Nolan said. That was about 12 years ago, he said.
If more connections like that are fostered during the Export Business Showcase, it will be a success, said Tori Riley, president of the Washington County LDC.
The event aims to bring together a range of companies from Warren, Washington, Saratoga and Rensselaer counties that are either exporting to other nations or are interested in tapping into foreign markets, Riley said.
While there are several larger companies among the 45 exhibitors signed up to participate — including Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Irving Tissue — many resemble Eastern Castings.
“Unless you have a relative or your spouse or you know somebody that works for these companies, you wouldn’t necessarily know they’re doing these things in the hills of Washington County or even rural Warren County, Saratoga County or Rensselaer County,” Riley said. “These guys are choosing every day to continue to operate and grow here, and they provide our families, friends and neighbors with jobs.”
Dan Komarony, owner of DK Machine in Fort Edward, knows ball valves aren’t the sexiest of products. But he also knows his machine shop is putting out the best product possible, and it’s being used in industries worldwide.
The parts are used to manufacture valves for mining and petroleum industry applications, among other uses, Komarony said.
“The opportunities (to export) are there,” he said. “I’m getting inquiries all the time from foreign valve manufacturers.”
DK Machine was founded in 1985 and has 12 employees today. In attending the expo, Komarony is hoping to learn what kind of legalities are involved with increasing efforts to send more valve balls overseas.
While DK Machine — unlike Eastern Castings — does have a website, Komarony said it isn’t because he’s seeking a lot of publicity.
“I’m not the kind of guy or company that likes the publicity,” he said. “I just like doing what I do.”