Printable Version

Florida Small Business Wins SBA’s 2018 Exporter of the Year Award



Thursday, April 19, 2018

(SBA)  WASHINGTON – SeaDek has been named 2018 Small Business Exporter of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The Rockledge, Florida-based company will be officially recognized during National Small Business Week, an annual event honoring the accomplishments and contributions of the best small businesses in the nation.

The award will be presented by SBA Administrator Linda McMahon on April 30, during a luncheon held at the U.S. Institute of Peace, in Washington, D.C. Jason and Serenity Gardner, SeaDek’s Co-Creator and Chief Operating Officer respectively, will receive the award on behalf of the company.

Jason Gardner worked for Hyperform producing surfboard fins and traction pads. In 2004, in conjunction with Hyperform’s owners, he expanded the company’s surfboard traction line by developing an innovative non-skid, closed-cell foam that is both UV-resistant and waterproof. The material provides traction, dampens sounds and absorbs shock making it an innovative alternative to traditional marine traction products. Serenity Gardner was asked to join SeaDek in 2008, where she plays an active role in scaling up the company through its rapid growth.

In 2014, SeaDek made international expansion a key component of their strategic plan. Since then, exports have grown from three percent to nearly 10 percent of total sales in 29 countries, with a 170 percent increase in overall sales. SeaDek hired an additional 61 employees, doubling its size, to over 130 workers. The growth in export sales has allowed the company to reinvestment in itself, increasing production capabilities and manufacturing jobs.

SeaDek recognized the expansion of sales and growth of employees would not have been possible without the assistance of the Orlando Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBDC worked with SeaDek to craft its international business strategy. The SBA complemented this plan with nearly $4 million in financing used to fund the expansion of SeaDek’s manufacturing facility tenfold in order to keep up with the international demand. SeaDek grew from 17,000 square feet in 2015 to 150,000 square feet over the course of two years.

U.S. exports are important to the nation’s economy, and 98 percent of all exporters are small businesses. The SBA’s export loan programs help American small businesses reach customers in the global market and compete on an equal footing in countries around the world. During fiscal year 2017, the SBA had another record year guaranteeing more than 2,152 loans to small business exporters, resulting in more than $1.87 billion in financing.

Each year since 1963, the President has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week. This year National Small Business Week will be recognized April 29 – May 5, with events planned in Washington, D.C., Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina. For more information on the national events, visit www.sba.gov/nsbw.