Closing of Ex-Im Bank Would Harm Maker Of Wheelchair Ramps

Roll-A-Ramp - West Fargo, North Dakota

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The handiwork of Roll-A-Ramp®, a West Fargo, North Dakota, manufacturer of lightweight portable aluminum wheelchair ramps, can be found in such prestigious international venues as London’s Buckingham Palace and Picadilly Ritz Hotel, the Malta National Museum of Archeology, and the Canadian government’s National Capital Commission building.

With just eight employees and between $1 million and $2 million in annual revenues, Roll-A-Ramp® is an unlikely major player in the global wheelchair ramp market. In 2003, four years after the company launched, it began looking overseas for growth opportunities. Today, Roll-A-Ramp® sells its ramps in 51 countries and has a strong presence in the European Union, Asia, Canada, Mexico, and Russia while carving out a share of the market in the Middle East. All told, more than half of the company’s revenues come from overseas.

The small firm’s prolific exporting earned it a coveted “E” Award for Exports from the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2013. President Kennedy revived the World War II “E” symbol of excellence to honor and provide recognition to America’s exporters in 1961. The Commerce Department’s U.S. Commercial Service office in North Dakota nominated Roll-A-Ramp® for the award.

“Roll-A-Ramp® has grown from an initially cautious, unfocused exporter into a knowledgeable, pro-active leader in exporting in the region,” said U.S. Commercial Service / North Dakota Office Director Heather Ranck. The firm was also named the U.S. Commercial Service’s 2007 U.S. Exporter of the Year for consumer goods.

Ranck’s office has helped Roll-A-Ramp® identify and vet potential overseas distributors, but the company’s success wouldn’t have been possible without the help of another institution—the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), whose charter will expire on September 30, 2014, absent a congressional vote to reauthorize it.

Ex-Im backs the private loans that enable Roll-A-Ramp® to receive 100 percent of the price of its purchase orders at the time the ship carrying its ramps leaves the dock in United States. This way, Roll-A-Ramp® isn’t left in the lurch if its customers don’t pay on time, according to the company’s International Sales Manager Greg Moll.

With as much as one-third of Roll-A-Ramp’s® orders backed by Ex-Im, Moll doesn’t like to think about what would happen to the company’s international market share if Congress fails to act.

“Because we are a small business, the Ex-Im Bank’s closing would have a material impact on us,” he said.