Local Company Cleans Up During Small Business Week: George Saxon Jr. Lauded as SBA’s Regional and Local Exporter of the Year

PITTSBURGH – Perched on a walkway, cleaning large, steam surface condensers with his family’s patented tube-cleaning products is how SBA’s (the U.S. Small Business Administration) award-winner George Saxon Jr. spent his college breaks.

Fast-forward three decades and Saxon, who still lends a hand cleaning up corrosion, is taking the 95-year-old Conco Services Corporation international with 288 employees spanning all corners of the globe.

On May, 14, Saxon, Conco’s president of international markets, is being honored as the SBA’s Mid-Atlantic Region and Western Pennsylvania Exporter of the Year. The ceremony coincides with the nation’s 56th celebration of National Small Business Week, held each May.

Not only is Saxon celebrating National Small Business Week with two awards, his company is looking to add up to 50 additional employees. “Right now, industry demand is huge,” he explained. “Field technicians go from site-to-site, anywhere in the world.”

Saxon began his quest at the local level when he was chosen as the SBA Western Pennsylvania District Office Exporter of the Year. The nomination package, submitted by the Duquesne University Small Business Development Center (SBDC), was forwarded to the SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Office to compete with small business owners from: Eastern Pennsylvania; Delaware; the District of Columbia; Maryland; Virginia; and West Virginia. Saxon was selected as one of 10 regional winners in the United States.

“I feel validated and so does my team,” Saxon said. “I’m happy we’re being recognized for a program that yields great results.”

Their worldwide vision consists of a team: three subsidiaries; 17 distributors; and a few agents spanning the globe — all representing Conco’s goods, services and technologies. Field representatives use a low-pressure, tube cleaning-system scouring condenser and heat exchanger tubes in the nuclear power, petrochemical and fossil-fuel industries. “Initially, we went everywhere training our subsidiary employees and distribution and trademark licensees,” Saxon said. “Now, we host a three-day expo here with up to 35 guests getting hands-on experience at our facility.”

SBA Western Pennsylvania District Director Dr. Kelly Hunt said she’s happy SBA’s network of SBDCs was able to help Saxon grow his business and create additional employment opportunities. “Like so many business owners, Mr. Saxon is realizing the growth potential through exporting,” added Hunt. “Many people believe only products can be exported, but Conco’s success showcases that services can be exported too.”

Cleaning 18 million tubes worldwide with 13 different types of cleaners and three different drill bits required Conco to develop a coordinated training and marketing approach. “We host monthly video teleconferences with our distributors and address everything from purchase orders to marketing campaigns,” Saxon explained. “We’ll share a case study to use as a success story on how we can help them in their own language.”

With industry cleaning schedules ranging from annually for fossil-fuel condensers to every two years for the petro-chemical industry, Saxon and his global group continually seek out opportunities assessing a country’s power generation capacity, its refining capacity and GDP to identify potential targets.

“Cleaning optimizes performance and our low-pressure water system uses far less water and space, creating opportunity for our specialized heat exchanger technology” Saxon explained. “The results are increased profitability, productivity and reliability.”

Saxon even plays a pivotal role helping his distributors grow too, utilizing the expertise of Duquesne University’s SBDC, where he is a client.

“Duquesne’s niche is exporting,” Hunt said. “Not only did they offer free and confidential counseling they assisted Saxon with a grant-based, trade-mission trip to Peru.”

That trip established Conco as a primary provider of tube cleaning products and services to the Power and Industrial sectors in the Peruvian markets.

“We sent our Colombian representative to a trade show in Peru,” Saxon explained. “We produced marketing materials and that show helped our agent open an office in Peru.”