Manufacturer of Pet Products Fears Slowing Growth Without Ex-Im

West Paw Design – Bozeman, Montana

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Based out of Bozeman, Montana, West Paw Design has been manufacturing pet toys and beds in an environmentally conscious way for 18 years. Their products are exclusively made in the United States, but are popular across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Exports are a growing part of their business, rising up to 20 percent of their total sales last year.

However, President and CEO, Spencer Williams, says that their success in Europe would be not have been possible without the services of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

About half of West Paw Design’s exports are covered by Ex-Im’s account receivables insurance, which gives the their local bank the assurance they need to be able to lend working capital to West Paw Design.

Stacey Scott, West Paw Design’s Business and Accounting Analyst, described what she calls “a really rigorous process for qualifying customers for Ex-Im,” to which she added that West Paw Design has never had to file a claim with Ex-Im. Scott noted that they first looked for similar insurance on the private market, but found the private products to be cost prohibitive.

“The private policies are made for a company about five times our size,” she said.

West Paw Design currently employs 70 people, of which Williams states 14 are directly connected to sales outside the US.

“We are a small, growing company that has to look at opportunities and take appropriate risks in order to grow. We are not going to be able to increase our business by going to customers, like the third largest pet merchandise retailer in the world, located in Germany, and say we need cash in advance. We will lose that business,” he said.

The bottom line for Williams is that losing Ex-Im will greatly reduce West Paw Design’s growth potential and could potentially cost jobs in Bozeman. But he also knows he is one of thousands of small businesses around the country creating good jobs that would be in danger without Ex-Im.

“I am always a proponent of evaluating government programs to examine whether they add value, but what is being missed in the rhetoric is that most of the impact would be on small businesses, which create most of the jobs in the United States,” he said.