Bobby and Burt Patton founded Patton Electronics Co. in 1984 while they were still students in college. Since then, the brothers have expanded their manufacturing company dramatically, and today it employs more than 120 people in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Patton Electronics makes a wide range of data and telecommunications products, including VoIP gateways, routers, mobile surveillance, and other connectivity devices. The company started exporting in the 1990s and now sells to more than 120 countries; exports account for 70% of its business. Canada and Mexico were among the firm’s first export markets in the early 1990s.
Patton Electronics started selling on the internet early on, and customers from across the world were finding them and buying from them. Bobby Patton, President and CEO, says, “We sell a tremendous amount of equipment into Asia, and China, and the biggest reason is because we have a product that is differentiated on the software level. We have a reputation for a very reliable product. Our company has been growing at a 20 percent average annual compound rate since we started, and without export sales we wouldn’t have been able to continue that kind of growth. A significant amount of employment is due wholly to our export business.”
The Export-Import Bank of the United States—which provides loans and loan guarantees when other financing is not available—has enabled businesses like Patton Electronics to reach foreign markets and customers, including a growing global middle class with rising spending power. Under this relationship, Patton received a guarantee from Ex-Im, which made his own bank willing to loan up to 90% of his overseas receivables as working capital. “As the president of a small company, I can tell you firsthand about the important role Ex-Im plays. The money my customers owe me serves as collateral for loans I need to pay my employees, my suppliers, and even my taxes until I get paid by my customers. Since more than 70% of my revenue is coming from exports, about 70% of my line of credit with the bank is backed by Ex-Im.”