A Leland manufacturer earned top honors recently from the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. in Washington, D.C.
Flow Sciences Inc., a designer and manufacturer of science laboratory equipment, was one of eight Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (EXIM) customers named Exporters of the Year in a ceremony last week during EXIM’s 2023 Annual Conference.
EXIM officials pointed to Flow Sciences and the seven other awardees as examples of the international success small businesses can achieve using EXIM’s credit insurance. An independent federal agency, the bank provides competitive and necessary export credit to overseas purchasers of U.S. exports to promote and support American jobs.
In other words, said Steve Janz, Flow Sciences vice president of international sales, he can sleep at night, knowing that his company will get paid for the products it sells to foreign markets. The Leland manufacturer has been an EXIM customer since 2006 and has used the bank’s support for more than $14.5 million in export volume to 15 of the 35 countries in which it does business.
“The best move we made was that we partnered with EXIM, and we chose an EXIM broker who had a tremendous amount of experience and was able to guide us through the early development stages of our exporting initiatives,” Janz said.
He believes that Flow Sciences was among this year’s honorees because of the longevity of the company’s relationship with EXIM and the fact that it has incurred no bad debt, even with the millions of dollars involved. That’s true of the other award winners, who all have success stories to share, he said.
“The eight exporters recognized this year serve as prime examples of the strength of U.S. business and American exporting,” EXIM President and Chair Reta Jo Lewis said in a news release. “EXIM is dedicated to facilitating the exporting success of U.S. small businesses as we work to re-shore American jobs and reinforce the domestic supply chain. This year’s recipients show how EXIM financing can make a difference and help us fulfill our mission of supporting American jobs by facilitating U.S. exports.”
By publicizing the award winners’ stories, the bank hopes to raise its profile and attract more customers.
“EXIM wants to market itself; nobody knows about it,” Janz said. “We are happy to share information. EXIM just did a $900 billion loan, and now there is a STEP (State Trade Expansion Program) grant from the N.C. Economic Development Partnership that will pay the premiums on our EXIM insurance. So, there are more savings, more benefits as we continue to work with the state and federal agencies.”
Flow Sciences has also worked closely with the Wilmington office of the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), the Small Business Administration, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Brunswick Community College, Cape Fear Community College and the Cape Fear Manufacturing Partnership, among other local and state entities, according to Janz.
Because EXIM insurance guarantees payment from foreign customers, its customers don’t have to worry about going after reluctant payers.
“We’re selling to a new dealer in Singapore; I’ve vetted them, but you can never be sure,” Janz said. “Their awareness of EXIM Bank working with a small business guarantees you will not have bad debt in collections over time. Getting paid is the number-one problem with going out of the U.S.”
New market opportunities continue to materialize for the Leland manufacturer. Janz made some connections at the EXIM conference itself.
“I got some interesting introductions to central Asian countries and Croatia, and made other connections with China,” he said, adding, “Besides securing that large deal in Singapore, I just got off the phone with China, where I have two [sales] worth more than $100,000, and another million [dollars] from other deals in foreign countries.”
An increase in demand for Flow Sciences process containment and other lab equipment means more work for its staff of nearly 70 people. The company’s current facility can accommodate double its current production, but a plant expansion may be needed in a few years, Janz said.
“We continue to bring on new countries and new partnerships and understand the new programs that North Carolina has to help us work with EXIM.”
Emma Dill - Nov 27, 2023
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