Wearwell Inc. is a small Tennessee company that makes rugged and long-lasting mats used on factory floors around the world.
It’s a second-generation company and has about 100 employees who work nearly around the clock in a 150,000-square-foot facility. The company provides retirement benefits to their employees, offers them health care, and makes products stamped with the words “Made in the U.S.A.”
Given this, Chief Executive Steve Goldsmith said he is worried that some lawmakers appear willing to end a program – the U.S. Export-Import Bank – that has helped them grow.
“All these people talk about creating jobs. We’re hiring. We’re expanding. We’re a U.S. manufacturing company,” Mr. Goldsmith said. “The Export-Import Bank is the kind of thing that benefits us. It strikes me as odd, you think we’re the company lawmakers want to help.”
Wearwell is just one of the thousands of companies around the United States that use the Ex-Im Bank to create and support jobs. The Ex-Im Bank has supported 1.2 million jobs over the last five years, and those jobs are at risk if Congress doesn’t reauthorize the Bank by the end of September.
Mr. Goldsmith said the company started using the Ex-Im Bank several years ago. “Coming out of the recession, we were going strong but decided we wanted to diversify” and start going international, he said.
He said their mats can be found on factory floors, including large automotive factories, throughout the United States and Europe. He said the company tried going to private sector lenders first to get help, but private banks wanted to charge them $20,000 or more in premiums for insurance before they even exported anything.
“To start with a $20,000 credit insurance bill before you have any sales is kind of onerous,” he said.
Insurance, Mr. Goldsmith said, is necessary when working overseas, and he asserts the Ex-Im Bank’s pay-as-you-go credit insurance is better.
“I really have no knowledge or ability to collect bills overseas if someone decides not to pay me,” he said. But when the Ex-Im Bank is involved, people know to pay up or they’ll have to deal with the U.S. government.
Mr. Goldsmith said people in foreign countries generally take pride in buying American-made products and U.S. politicians should take note of that.
“This is creating jobs and this is getting U.S. products out there,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to do that without Ex-Im. There’s a certain prestige around the world to having U.S.-made products.”
“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.