CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jon Meriwether's company, located on the banks of the Ohio River, produces and sells 1,900 different items to build and maintain boat docks.
"We sell in all 50 states. Now we are also sending our dock products to the Bahamas, China, Japan, Canada and Mexico," Meriwether said after a ceremony Thursday for the West Virginia businesses who exported their goods to a new country in 2012.
"We have never laid anybody off in the 20 years we have operated the business," Meriwether said of his business, Merco Marine in Wellsburg. "Later this year, we will be taking all our employees and their spouses on a cruise."
In all, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the West Virginia Export Council and the West Virginia Development Office honored 52 businesses for beginning to ship exports to new countries during the past year.
In 2012, the value of West Virginia exports set a new record high of $11.3 billion, according to Tomblin. Exports include a wide variety of physical products - such as glass, wood, steel, shoes and fishing equipment -- as well as electronic devices and communication software, he said.
Countries newly receiving West Virginia products span the world, from China to Chile, from Australia to Canada, from Mongolia and South Korea to Tanzania and South Africa.
"Expanding into new markets around the world has provided our businesses an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to successfully compete in the global marketplace," Tomblin said during the ceremony at the Culture Center. "I'm pleased to have this opportunity to honor them for their success."
State Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said, "This is the third record year in a row. We have been among the top two or three states in the country in terms of the percentage increase for our exports."
Don Gallion, chairman of the West Virginia Export Council, called West Virginia "truly a world-class exporting state."
He cited Allegheny Wood Products from Petersburg, which began trading with Indonesia and Mexico, while Steel of West Virginia from Huntington began shipping products to the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, China and South Africa.
Gallion also praised West Virginia University and Marshall University for offering "export management classes for the 12th year. They train students to be prepared for this [export] business."