Ohio Vacuum Parts Maker Wants Ex-Im Around

Grand River Rubber and Plastics – Ashtabula, Ohio

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Richard Selip, president of Grand River Rubber and Plastics in Ashtabula, Ohio, likes to tell people a business adage he learned awhile back that helps illuminate why the U.S. Export-Import Bank is crucial to small businesses.

“When you have enough cash, it doesn’t matter. When you don’t have cash, nothing else matters,” said Mr. Selip, whose 225-employee-owned company makes vacuum belts that are sold all over the world.

The company started using the Ex-Im Bank a few years ago when their private bank told them they wouldn’t lend them any money to sell abroad unless they first got credit insurance. The Ex-Im Bank provides that insurance—for a fee, of course. And that gives Grand River Rubber and Plastics the assurance that they’ll have a backstop in case a foreign company fails to pay.

Mr. Selip said the insurance also gives the company flexibility to borrow more from their private bank, allowing them to expand further abroad. The company has never had to file a claim with the Ex-Im Bank, which help explains why the Bank has a default rate less than 1 percent.

Mr. Selip’s company is like the thousands of other small businesses across the United States that rely on the Ex-Im Bank to expand abroad and keep jobs local. If Congress doesn’t reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, then companies like Grand River Rubber and Plastics will be harmed.

Not having Ex-Im Bank around “would dramatically affect our ability to successfully land business,” Mr. Selip said.

The company’s vacuum belts are found in many modern-day vacuums, including those made by Hoover and Royal Appliance. He said the company faces stiff competition from companies in other countries, particularly in China.

He said he doesn’t understand why some politicians want to end the Ex-Im Bank, suggesting maybe they lack information about how it helps small companies.