Georgia Exporter Takes Ex-Im From Theory To Practice

Export Home Furnishings - Duluth, Georgia

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Alberto Castillo likes to think of his company as a third party international sales department for U.S. companies that don’t have their own. Mr. Castillo oversees international sales for Export Home Furnishings (EHF), based in Duluth, Georgia.

EHF was born as an independent exporter that initially partnered up with the Ohio-based Sauder Woodworking Company to manage their Middle Eastern markets and eventually took over management of all of the company’s international sales, operating as an Export Managing Company.   Now, EHF exports American-made furniture from a variety of U.S. companies, both large and small.

“Without something like Ex-Im our business wouldn’t be possible,” said Mr. Castillo of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The Bank is a critical tool to the success of EHF and thousands of other small businesses across the country.

The company began with 10 employees, but has now grown to 30. Those jobs, and the 60 additional jobs down the supply chain, are at risk without a long-term reauthorization of the Bank.

EHF provides its customers with the ability to focus on manufacturing and marketing in the domestic market, while still benefitting from international trade. Mr. Castillo and his team take on the financial responsibilities of exporting for these companies, which is why the Ex-Im Bank is crucial to their success.

“The security of being able to work with an organization like Ex-Im is what makes it possible to do business,” he said.

When Mr. Castillo began looking for tools that would allow him to offer his customers financing terms, he knew exactly where to look. He had first heard about the Ex-Im Bank when he was teaching at Bowling Green State University. It was a tool that the international business textbooks all discussed.

Now that he’s putting the theory into practice, however, Congress has created uncertainty over the future of the Bank. Mr. Castillo estimates that his sales will diminish by 50 percent if the Bank isn’t given a long-term reauthorization by June.

“It’s strange,” he said of the uncertainty surrounding Ex-Im’s future, “there’s no logic that I can understand. The fact that we can work with a customer on open terms helps level the playing field.”