Pioneer Balloon Co. was one of 65 companies and organizations on Wednesday to receive the U.S. Department of Commerce’s highest export award.
The E award is the highest recognition made by the Commerce Department for exporting, and it recognizes businesses and organizations for “significant contributions to increasing American exports,” Commerce officials said in a news release.
Ted J. Vlamis, Pioneer Balloon vice president in charge of its international division, traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive the award Wednesday morning.
“We’re very proud to receive this award,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “Exports are a very important part of our business. They account for more than half of our sales.”
Pioneer Balloon was the only Kansas-based company or organization to receive the E award.
Pioneer Balloon, 5000 E. 29th St. North, a manufacturer of balloons and balloon-related products, operates manufacturing plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as distribution facilities in Australia and Brazil. The privately held company employs about 1,000 workers and does business in more than 100 countries, Vlamis said.
He said the company has previously received other exporting awards, including the Kansas Governor’s Exporter of the Year award in the 1990s, but not one of the scale of the Commerce award.
“One of the things I did discuss with the people in Commerce was the importance of free trade agreements, and related our experiences with what NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) has allowed us to do,” Vlamis said.
He said NAFTA has helped Pioneer Balloon increase its sales and employment in the U.S. and abroad.