2024 NJITA Award winners
General Business

4 Companies Honored at 2nd Annual NJ International Trade Awards

Over 100 attendees filled the Galloping Hills Golf Club in Kenilworth yesterday to celebrate recipients of the 2nd Annual New Jersey District Export Council’s International Trade Awards. Featured speakers revealed how the import/export industry in New Jersey is driven by small and mid-sized businesses who see exporting as a way to innovate and grow.

“Unlike our counterparts on the West Coast who cater to big operations like Walmart and Amazon, most of our port’s customers are small to medium-sized shippers,” explained Beth Rooney, director, Ports, Port Authority of NY/NJ and the morning’s guest speaker. “We have over 100,000 individual shippers who move their cargo through our ports each year, and about 98,000 of those shippers move less than 1,000 containers a year; 70% are doing less than 500 containers,” Director Rooney said. As a result, her office invests considerable effort in assisting smaller exporters to find the best resources for their needs.

The Port Authority is responsible for nearly $83 billion in annual economic activity and over 560,000 jobs.

The Ronney’s comments were followed by a panel discussion featuring the New Jersey District Export Council (NJDEC) export honorees. Moderated by Sally Glick, panelists included Exporter of the Year Lydia Sarfati, CEO of Repechage, Service Exporter of the Year Tom Kallman, CEO of Kallman Worldwide, Inc., New Exporter of The Year Monica Lee, vice president of Route66 International, and Gail Friedberg Rottenstrich, CEO of Zago Manufacturing Co., winner of the Minority Owned/Diverse Exporter award.  The group shared thoughts and personal stories on how their respective companies took the leap of faith to export their products internationally.

“I understand that there are over 16,000 New Jersey companies who exported goods and services last year,” noted honoree Tom Kallman. “To be featured among this group is a great honor. We are working hard to help American businesses export abroad in more than 42 different countries.”

The goal of the New Jersey International Trade Awards (NJITA) is to recognize and honor New Jersey companies that have worked diligently to expand their exporting efforts.

About the 2024 Award Winners:

Exporter of the Year:

Awarded to a New Jersey company that has grown its exports and made exporting a cornerstone of its business.


Repechage was launched in 1980 by Lydia Sarfati. Born in Poland, her vision from a young age was to provide innovative and effective skin care products. Lydia, her husband David, who is co-founder and chief operating officer, together with their daughter Shiri, who serves as executive vice president and chief marketing officer, operate Repechage from a 50,000-square-foot, ISO 9001:2015 certified, manufacturing, research, development and training facility in Secaucus. The company is a leading professional skincare brand based on seaweed, combining natural ingredients with high-tech research and development, utilizing a proprietary seaweed extraction method.

Service Exporter of the Year:

Awarded to a New Jersey company successfully exporting services.

Kallman Worldwide Inc.

During a trade fair trip to Munich in 1963, founder Jerry Kallman, Sr., decided to provide free coffee service to his contingent of US exhibitors so they wouldn’t have to take time away from their stands to find it. That single act of customer-centered service sparked a business that today supports more than 40 trade show events worldwide. The company’s portfolio of exhibitor services includes custom stand building, supply chain networking programs, and workforce advocacy initiatives.

New Exporter of the Year:

Awarded to a New Jersey company that has begun exporting products or services within the last two years.

Route66 International Inc.

Route66 International is all about bringing top-quality imported seaweed to our domestic marketplace. Founded in 2016, Route66 began marketing its YM Roasted Seaweed brand (using premium imported Korean seaweed) in 2018. Distributing to 40+ states, the company focuses on bringing the taste of professional-quality roasted seaweed to consumers and commercial kitchens everywhere.

Minority Owned/Diverse Exporter of the Year:

Awarded to a New Jersey company that is successfully exporting and whose owners or senior leaders and managers represent an underserved business community.

Zago Manufacturing Inc.

A certified Women Business Enterprise (WBE), Zago Manufacturing was co-founded by Gail Friedberg Rottenstrich, CEO, and husband Harvey Rottenstrich, an engineer who serves as president of the organization. Born at the New Jersey Institute of Technology Enterprise Development Center small business incubator nearly 30 years ago, ZAGO Manufacturing remains a family-owned global manufacturing company, producing custom, high-tech, clean, and inherently green sealing solutions and components. Headquartered in a 100-year-old refurbished factory in the heart of Newark, New Jersey, the company embraces a sustainable business culture and employs LEAN techniques.

About the NJDEC

New Jersey District Export Council is one of more than 60 District Export Councils or “DECs” throughout the US. The NJDEC is a private, non-profit organization that brings together experienced international business people who provide guidance and assistance in navigating international markets. It works closely with professionals of the U.S. Commercial Service in our region. NJDEC members also meet with federal, state, and local elected officials to educate and inform them on trade policy issues impacting the region’s business community. Their mission is to support and encourage export growth and to create jobs.

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