KNAU and Arizona News
5:09 am
Mon April 13, 2009

Southwest Windpower wins national exporter award

Flagstaff, AZ – Southwest Windpower was named the national Small Business Exporter of the Year today by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

About 20 years ago David Calley and Andy Kruse founded Southwest Windpower in a Flagstaff garage. From the beginning Kruse says the company shipped half of its wind turbines overseas.

"We realized market back in 80s was too small to stay domestic, so we started exporting to just a few countries that we began with."

Now Southwest Windpower has truly become an international company. It's opened an office in Germany and created a joint venture in China to manufacture turbines for the China Rural Electrification Project.

"When you look at the stats, there's 300 million people that live in China without electricity, very large initiative going on to electrify the remote areas that will never get a power line."

Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick was in Flagstaff to help present the award. With a wind turbine spinning in the breeze behind her, Kirkpatrick said it's companies like Southwest Windpower that will help pull the country out of recession.

"This is exactly the kind of entepreneurship that is going to work our country out of this economic downturn."

But Southwest Windpower hasn't been immune to the downturn. Last month the company laid off 14 workers as sales slumped. But CEO Frank Greco believes the federal stimulus package will help the company rebound. That legislation increased the investment tax credit for small wind turbines to four thousand dollars.