Small Business Owner Expands Construction-Equipment Business With Ex-Im Bank
BLS Enterprises – Bensenville, Illinois
Barry Stoughton developed on his own a product that revolutionized the construction equipment business, but needed the help of the Export-Import Bank of the United States to sell that revolutionary product overseas.
Mr. Stoughton, a former high school math teacher, started Bensenville, Ill.-based BLS Enterprises out of a garage in 1986. The company makes track pads made with polyurethane retreading for construction equipment. Prior to him, companies used rubber, which was less durable.
Most of the 12-employee company’s sales are domestic, but about 14 years ago Mr. Stoughton realized there was an international hunger for his company’s TUFPADS track pads.
We “are always looking for new customers around the world,” he said.
So he turned to the Ex-Im Bank and started with small orders to Taiwan, requiring cash-in-advance payments. But as the company’s orders grew, they needed more flexible financing options – and the Ex-Im Bank stepped in to help.
The Bank provides the company – for a charge, of course – with credit insurance in case their foreign buyers fail to pay.
Because of the Ex-Im Bank, the company has been able to take advantage of opportunities to expand sales to Malaysia, Australia and other countries.
He fears what will happen if Congress doesn’t reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank by September 30, but he’s confident they will support the Bank if they understand what it does.
He said “when people see that small companies are trying to expand and sell American products abroad using Ex-Im, they will support it.”