Ex-Im Helps Surgical Instruments Maker Double Staff

Eagle Labs – Rancho Cucamonga, California

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In Rancho Cucamonga, California, Eagle Labs manufactures surgical instruments for cataract and refractive surgery. Founded in 1988 by Dennis De Camp, Eagle Labs’ American-made equipment corrects eyesight for people in more than 40 countries worldwide. But establishing an international presence wasn’t easy. Like many small American exporters, Eagle Labs’ evolution into a global exporter was made possible by the Export Import Bank of the United States.

Michael De Camp, Vice President of International Sales for Eagle Labs, clarifies why Ex-Im was central to the firm’s growth: “Before Ex-Im, we were uninsured. We were extending 60-day terms to our foreign customers and, luckily, they always paid us.” Despite receiving consistent payment from their foreign customers, local banks wouldn’t extend credit to Eagle Labs based on uninsured accounts. “We needed a line of credit to expand,” explains De Camp. Eagle Labs was stuck.

Once Eagle Labs secured Ex-Im support at the turn of the century, everything changed. The firm received the credit it required, and annual sales shot up from around $2 million to nearly $5 million. Eagle Labs’ staff doubled to 45 employees. Exports now consist of 55-60% of Eagle Lab’s revenue. “European exports saved us during the Great Recession,” says De Camp. “Even as other companies folded, our sales stayed flat and let us survive.”

When asked what would happen if Ex-Im didn’t exist, De Camp explains: “We wouldn’t have been able to buy needed capital equipment. We would’ve been at a standstill, and we wouldn’t have been able to double our staff.” Yet, Ex-Im’s charter is about to expire. If Congress doesn’t reauthorize Ex-Im by September 30, the Bank will close its doors, ending export financing and inhibiting the job growth of thousands of small businesses across America.

Like many small business executives, De Camp is bewildered: “I’m blown away that anyone could want to shut it down. It’s really bizarre. We’re a family run business, and Ex-Im is an important option for us.” If Congress closes Ex-Im now, De Camp fears for the future. “If our credit line came due tomorrow, we’d have to close our doors.”