Ex-Im Helps Leading Dredge Manufacturer Continue Global Success

Ellicott Dredges – Baltimore, Maryland

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Baltimore, Maryland based Ellicott Dredges is not a stranger to international trade. From its earliest days supplying all of the dredges used in the original construction of the Panama Canal, the 130-year-old company has pursued global markets. Today, over half of Ellicott’s sales come from foreign customers in more than 100 countries. 


Maintaining access to customers abroad is crucial to continuing the success that has made Ellicott one of the oldest and most successful dredging equipment manufacturers in the world. Since the 1950s, Ellicott has worked with the U.S. Export-Import Bank to finance foreign sales with pre-shipment working capital guarantees.  As the business has grown and matured, Ellicott continues to use the Bank for short-term insurance and medium-term loan guarantees for its foreign clients.


It’s because of the company’s success that the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Jacob Lew, recently toured their Baltimore plant to see first-hand how it builds its first-rate dredging equipment. 


In the coming years, the ability to compete on a level playing field will become increasingly important for manufacturers like Ellicott. Growth in the market for dredging equipment is expected to be greatest in developing economies that are investing in infrastructure. As demand increases abroad, the ability to finance foreign sales will be central to capitalizing on market opportunities. 


The current June 30th expiration date for the Ex-Im charter causes concern for Ellicott and its President Peter Bowe. 


“The uncertainty that Congress has created is not helpful to companies like ours dealing with foreign customers who are aware of this uncertainty,” said Bowe. A number of Ellicott’s foreign competitors in countries such as China and the Netherlands receive generous export credit assistance from their government agencies, and customers may turn to these competitors if Ex-Im financing is no longer available. 


“If your bank or home builder stopped offering mortgages for your new house, wouldn’t you find a different builder or bank?” asks Bowe. Without an Ex-Im reauthorization, Ellicott and its 250 employees could be at risk. 


As a past president of the Small Business Exporters’ Association, Bowe has spent time working with lawmakers to explain the importance of the Ex-Im Bank and finding ways to improve the Bank. According to Bowe, “while Ex-Im is already essential to exporters there is room to do a better job.” Specifically, improvements could be made to increase the lending to small businesses. 


In the meantime, a long-term reauthorization of the Bank is a necessary step. Financing support from the Bank can help ensure businesses like Ellicott are able to reach customers abroad and can focus on producing the equipment that has earned them a world-renowned reputation.