POCATELLO — A small Gate City company is receiving some big national attention.
The U.S. Small Business Administration recently named Partner Steel Company the 2019 Idaho Small Business Exporter of the Year. In addition, U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, a member and former chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, named Partner Steel the Idaho Small Business of the Month for June.
“Partner Steel has been a staple of the Pocatello business community since it first opened its doors in 1947. For more than five decades, the Partner family operated the business and specialized in providing high-quality custom steel and camping equipment to clients all over the world,” according to a news release from Risch’s office. “Today, the business is operated by Rick and Debbie Eskelson who have carried on Partner Steel’s legacy of excellence while reinvesting in the success of their local community.”
As part of that award, the company will be recognized in the Congressional Record of the U.S. Senate, according to Risch’s news release.
Claudia Allen, a business consultant with the Small Business Development Center in Pocatello, nominated Partner Steel, a client, for the exporter award.
“Even though they are a small company in Southeast Idaho, they export all over the world,” Allen said. “Their products are high quality and they do great work.”
“(I was) shocked, honored — obviously, and very humbled,” Debbie Eskelson said about receiving the awards.
Partner Steel Company is a custom steel, stainless and aluminum supplier as well as a fabrication and installation shop, Debbie said. Brothers Dale and Paul Partner started the company more than 70 years ago and later sold it to Harvey (Dale’s son) and Sharleen Partner. The Eskelsons purchased it from them in 2005.
In addition to its supplier and fabrication work, Partner Steel has a camping equipment division and has become known worldwide for its Cook Partner camping stoves, Debbie said. They were designed by Harvey, a white water enthusiast.
“This division evolved after Harvey Partner’s passion for spending time on the river sparked an idea for a lightweight camping stove. The 5-star Cook Partner can claim ratings that exceed the well-known Coleman stove brand,” Debbie said.
Harvey also developed the Jon-ny Partner, a campsite toilet that features an RV clean out system and a sealing lid that makes it easier to transport, according to partnersteel.com. In addition, he was behind the Wishy Washy hand washing station and the Water Purifier used to make river water drinkable.
“The camping stove and equipment sells across America and exports to Canada, Europe, Australia and now Dubai through a variety of distribution channels including Amazon. The camping business continues to grow every year,” Debbie said, adding that it’s crazy how busy they are. “There are six dedicated full-time employees who manufacture the camping products. Without their dedication and expertise in quality, these products would not be recognized as the lead of excellence.”