Mark Sauer, owner of Savannah Global Solutions in Pembroke, received the “Faces of Manufacturing” award for June today from the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
“This is a nice honor because I really do have a personal commitment to manufacturing,” Sauer said. “We’ve grown every year and we’re on the right path. This is a reflection of that.”
The award was presented at his company’s Pembroke facility and was coordinated by the Development Authority of Bryan County. Also attending were state Rep. Jan Tankersley, R-Brooklet, County Commissioner Noah Covington and Pembroke Mayor Judy Cook.
Savannah Global Solutions makes equipment used in the forestry and agricultural industries in soil and site preparation work. Sauer moved the company, which has about 30 employees, to Pembroke in 2012. CZM Foundation Equipment, a Brazilian company and one of Sauer’s customers, leases space from him at the Pembroke site and has another 30 employees there.
“We’ve been pretty good for the lunchtime business in town,” he joked.
During the ceremony, Sauer noted that “this is not my award” and thanked his employees.
“It’s a great pleasure to build our own product,” he said. “We take pride in what we do from the engineers to the designers to the fabricators to the machinists.”
When Sauer bought the company in the late 1990s, it had 10 employees and almost all of its business was in the southeast. Today it ships to more than 30 countries and in 2014 was named Georgia “Exporter of the Year” by the Small Business Administration. The growth is also reflected in the name of the company, which was founded as Savannah Forestry Equipment.
“The guys joke that they’d rather not see me around because that means I’m out doing business development,” Sauer said. “I got in around 2 this morning from New York and next month I’ll be on three different continents.”
Sauer grew up on a farm in Michigan and received degrees in mathematics and industrial engineering from Western Michigan University. His entrepreneurial spirit started early with a lawn cutting business at age 10, and his experience working in a machine shop during high school spurred his interest in design and product fabrication. After college he worked in several roles at various companies dealing with finance, engineering sales, product management and manufacturing.
“I couldn’t have chosen a more interesting career path,” he said. “But to be honest, the thing that has served me the best in this business is having that agricultural background.”