CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The walls of the conference room at Preiser Scientific Inc.'s conference room are covered with frames.
Each includes a piece of currency where the company exports its equipment: Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Malaysia, Tanzania and many others.
The company has exported sophisticated laboratory equipment and supplies -- which it makes at its St. Albans laboratory and manufacturing center -- to companies in 90 countries around the world.
Alvin E. Preiser, the company's president, has been in the export business since 1980. Today, about 30 percent of his company's business is with foreign countries, he said.
During the first six months of 2012, the United States saw a decline in products it exported to other countries.
But in West Virginia, exports saw a 31 percent increase between January and June. Over those six months, a total of exports worth $5.8 billion went all over the world -- ranked 32nd among all states.
Nearly two-thirds of those West Virginia exports - 65 percent - were coal. But Leslie W. Drake, director of the West Virginia-U.S. Export Assistance Center in Charleston, said other major exports include plastics, machinery, aircraft and space equipment, as well as medical and optical goods.
Drake's Assistance Center works with the state Development Office to provide West Virginia companies with "matchmaking services" that help them create joint ventures with foreign companies.
The two government agencies also help West Virginia companies find distributors for their products, warehouses in other countries and sales representatives to help them market their products abroad.
In October, the Development Office is coordinating a trade mission to South Korea for West Virginia businesses, offering them "match-making services" for their products.
Drake's center also helps local businesses "screen foreign businesses for legitimacy and business practices. We always recommend that you screen them," Drake said.
"Companies can protect themselves by using government services. We can educate them about how to control their shipping costs," she said. "We also want to help companies expand their businesses into new companies. Most companies export to only one market."
Drake works with the United States Commercial Service, part of the U.S. Commerce Department, which has offices in 90 countries around the world.
The assistance center will hold two programs this week to help local companies learn how to get assistance from federal agencies to increase their exports. The programs are set for Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the West Virginia Women's Business Center in Beckley, and Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m., at the Charleston Area Alliance in Charleston.
Preiser praised state officials like Drake. "The state does a nice job to promote exports. The U.S. Commerce guys also help find new customers."
This week, on shipping docks outside Preiser Scientific's labs and manufacturing facilities near the banks of the Coal River in St. Albans, boxes were packed, stacked and ready for shipment to companies in places from Colombia to Saudi Arabia to China.
Today, Preiser makes 30 different products to test coal, especially coal used to make coke for steel production. The company's devices can measure the heat value, ash content, moisture, sulfur content and the expandable quality of coal about to be used in manufacturing facilities and power plants.