Jul 22, 2014 - 5:45pm

Ex-Im Helps Texas Manufacturer Fly High

Ex-Im Air Tractor testimony photo by Ian Wagreich.jpg

Air Tractor's Hirsch defends Ex-Im
Photo: Ian Wagreich/U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Discussions about the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank have been front and center in the halls of Congress.

On July 22, members of Congress and their staff got to hear directly from small businesses that utilize the Export-Import Bank to support jobs and economic growth in their companies.

One of those small business owners was Jim Hirsch, president and CEO of Air Tractor, a 265-employee-owned manufacturer of agricultural and forest fire-bombing airplanes in Olney, TX.

Air Tractor aircraft can be found working over fields and forests across the United States and around the globe -- in Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Eastern Europe, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. But without Ex-Im’s medium-term insurance help, Hirsch said, his company would have to cut 60 jobs immediately.

Ex-Im explains how Air Tractor has used their financing:

Air Tractor Inc., a 200-employee manufacturer of agricultural and forest fire-bombing airplanes, has used Ex-Im Bank’s medium-term insurance for 15 years to export an estimated $40 million of its aircraft, primarily to small private-sector buyers in Argentina and Brazil. The company uses the Bank’s medium-term policies to provide supplier credits, which are loans to international buyers that the company originates and then sells to a commercial lender. About 25 planes are expected to be financed annually. In 2009, Air Tractor also obtained an Ex-Im Bank-guaranteed working capital loan.

The company has been able to enter new markets with exports accounting for approximately 50% of the company’s total sales, Hirsch said

Air Tractor’s Vice President of Finance David Ickert had a recent editorial in the Dallas Morning News highlighting the impact of Ex-Im Bank not only on Air Tractor, but 1,000 other Texas companies, and the towns those businesses support.

Next week the Chamber will be in Texas with Air Tractor and the Texas Association of Business to educate state legislators on the importance of Ex-Im to small businesses.

Also participating in the briefing was BTE Technologies, of Baltimore, MD; Goss International of Durham, NH; and AirFixture of Kansas City, KS.

More than 50 small business leaders have shared their Ex-Im stories here.  Learn more about the Chamber's efforts to reauthorize Ex-Im here, and support Ex-Im by using the hashtag#ExIm4Jobs on Twitter.

About the Author

About the Author

Sheryll Poe is a former senior writer at the U.S. Chamber, who covered public policies affecting businesses including the three "T's" - transportation, trade and taxes.