Paul's Fan Company, Buchanan County

Paul's Fan Company in Buchanan County was founded in 1958 as a small machine shop servicing the coal mining industry. It evolved over the years to focus on improved mine ventilation, producing turnkey industrial ventilation solutions for companies. Strong growth in the early 2000s helped the company expand, eventually purchasing the Jeffrey Fans line from construction equipment giant Caterpillar. 

The company also expanded its target industry channels to include manufacturing, construction, and other sectors that benefit from improved ventilation. That shift grew out of changes to the mining industry that led Paul’s Fan to diversify its customer base, including an increased emphasis on international sales.

That shift in focus prompted Paul’s Fan to contact VEDP’s International Trade division in 2015, ultimately enrolling in the since-discontinued Go Global With Coal program. This led to participation in trade missions and shows that helped the company reach a distributorship agreement with a Mexican partner to sell and service its mine fans.

“At that time, we were expanding our product line outside of coal,” said Jackie Estep, the company’s sales and marketing manager. “We were just starting to gain ground in the aggregate mining market, and we decided we would participate in the exporting program so that we could do better in all aspects of our business.”

Taking a new approach proved important as Paul’s Fan gained vital information on international sales strategies, with exports hitting an all-time high in 2018. This success led the company to join VEDP’s Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) international business acceleration program. 

“The VALET program was instrumental in pushing us to evolve and grow as a company,” said Paul’s Fan President Todd Elswick. “It propelled us to make decisions and changes that have allowed us to expand operations, grow our employee numbers, and compete in the global marketplace.” 

An international perspective helped Paul’s Fan expand its sales, installation, and repair services in the Canadian and Mexican markets. The company’s requests for quotes have increased more than 40%. The increased growth derived from the international markets enabled the company to launch a new line of products and open a new facility with three full assembly lines.   

“We see endless opportunities ahead of us to serve companies around the world,” Elswick said. 

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