As the world’s economy strengthens and competition for global consumers intensifies, ensuring U.S. companies have the ability to tap into that growing market is becoming increasingly more important. With 95 percent of consumers existing outside of our country’s borders, foreign companies are quickly seeking new ways to dominate the marketplace and undercut their U.S. counterparts.
Fortunately, U.S. manufacturers are up for the challenge and, given the slow turnaround of our own country’s economy in recent years, are increasingly relying on exports to faster-growing markets around the world in order to continue to grow and produce jobs. In 2012, manufactured goods exports reached a record $1.35 trillion. Today more than a quarter of everything we make in the U.S. is sold overseas and according to the White House, one in three U.S. manufacturing jobs depends on exports.
One of the main elements fostering this impressive growth is the support of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (Ex-Im Bank), which offers financing for American companies to export their goods and services, often when American creditors will not. This is essential to ensuring U.S. companies are properly equipped to compete with International businesses, many of whom are receiving aggressive government support ranging from development funding to export financing.
For the Pennsylvania-based manufacturer, Wallquest, this certainly rings true. A family-owned company since 1985, Wallquest is one of the larger wallpaper manufacturers in the U.S. Though still considered a relatively small manufacturer, the company’s dedication to creating a quality, innovative product while preserving traditional standards has helped secure their competitive advantage within the global home furnishings sector. Today, 90 percent of their American-made products are sold overseas.
Much of the company’s growth has occurred in the past few years as they were able to expand their customer base within international markets. In 2008, at the time the company began receiving financing from the Ex-Im Bank, they were 80 employees strong. In large part due to this financial support, the company was able to lower their cost of capital and open up a new, expanded market for foreign customers. Just four years later, in 2012 Wallquest reached 185 employees and today are looking to expand even further.
Jack Collins, vice president of Wallquest said, “Today we are selling wallpaper in 61 different countries. The Ex-Im Bank’s working capital programs played a key part in financing our company’s growth.” Beyond the company’s own growth, Collins also acknowledges the other domestic sectors of the economy that benefit, from the raw material suppliers to the professional services such as accountants and lawyers.
Wallquest is just one of over 3,400 small businesses that are prospering and helping to create U.S. jobs because of the support of the Ex-Im Bank. As Members of Congress consider the Bank’s reauthorization this September, it is critical that they recognize why companies like Wallquest deserve a level playing field to continue to grow our economy and contribute to America’s future.
“Exporters for Ex-Im” is a blog series focused on the importance of the Export-Import Bank to manufacturers. To learn more or to tell Congress you support reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, visit http://www.nam.org/Issues/Trade/Ex-Im-Bank.aspx.