Blue Ridge Chair Works was one of five companies to win a 2017 Governor’s Export Award. Founder Alan Davis, in turn, gives credit for his top small-business exporter award to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), which provided mentoring for growing his business overseas. Blue Ridge Chair has been manufacturing portable outdoor furniture—folding sling-back wooden chairs and matching tables—since 2000. Davis says he’s always been a tinkerer, and his first projects with wood were custom kayak paddles. His furniture business, which started as a hobby making high-end furniture for himself, affords him the opportunity “to do something my way.” The chairs are mostly made in-state. Quality hardwood from Michigan is sculpted by artisans in Davis’ employ, and other jobs, like sewing and manufacturing, are contracted out to operations within the region. Clients include hoteliers and individual campers, and now 52% of his business is overseas. The other four winners were Therafirm, Frontier Spinning Mills, Tri-Tech Forensics, and New Growth Designs. The EDPNC provided services to 559 companies last year.