Family-Owned Manufacturing Company Uses Ex-Im To Grow

Mathews Company – Crystal Lake, Illinois

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Mathews Company is a family-owned manufacturing firm located in Crystal Lake, Illinois. It makes high-quality dryers that remove moisture from grain, allowing it to be safely stored in silos. Grain dryers are especially large pieces of equipment, consisting of 10-, 12- and 18-foot diameter bases and towering structures that stand alongside silos. As Mathews Company celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, exports have grown to make up 40% of its sales.

Over 95% of the world’s consumers lie outside of the United States, a fact not lost on Mathews Company, which exports to more than 50 countries. Mathews’ exports have fueled growth, and the firm now employs around 100 employees in Crystal Lake.

Supporting Mathews’ expansion overseas has been the Export Import Bank of the United States. Jeremy Kemp, Sales & Marketing Manager, explains: “The way our business works, it takes three to six months for a dryer to arrive and be installed. Naturally, our customers don’t want to pay until it’s complete, and we want to insure that we get our money. It’s not like we can resell our dryers, as they are custom built for each market. What we sell in Mexico, we can’t sell in Russia, and vice versa.”

This is where Ex-Im bank steps in. By using Ex-Im bank credit insurance, Mathews Company can rest assured that it will receive payment for its projects and private banks become more comfortable extending a line of credit. When asked, “Why don’t you use the private market?” Kemp responds, “We’ve talked to bankers for export financing, and they told us that Ex-Im is our option. Ex-Im allows us to bridge cash flow issues we’ve had with customers in Mexico and other countries.”

Some have called Ex-im unnecessary. Kemp disagrees: “Shutting down Ex-Im would cost us our ability to do business with some of our customers. We wouldn’t have been able to sell 5 grain dryers to Mexico last year. That doesn’t sound like much, but that’s 2.5% of our business.”

Every major trading nation has its equivalent of Ex-Im Bank, and many offer more generous financing than the U.S. version. “We already lost a huge deal with Nibulon, Ukraine’s largest grain exporter,” says Kemp. “They got better financing through a European export credit agency.” Without Ex-Im, many U.S. companies will be shut out of overseas markets by foreign businesses with more secure government backing. Kemp speaks for many small American manufacturers when he tells Congress, “Ex-Im fills a void no one else can fill. We’ve looked.”