Interviewer - During my years in the medical device industry, I was honored to work with many children’s hospitals and I was known for saying, “You gotta love all hospitals, but you gotta love children’s hospitals best!” Gina Trubits, Controller, HARD Manufacturing, spent time with me via email and telephone sharing how the leader in pediatric and critical care cribs serves this special population of patients across the world.
Please give me some background on your company.
Gina - HARD Manufacturing is a privately held company, headquartered in Buffalo, NY. We manufacture and sell hospital cribs and youth beds to hospitals in the U.S. and around the world. We take pride in offering the widest selection of cribs and youth beds in the market, flexibility and willingness to customize our products to meet the customer’s unique needs, and of building long lasting, high quality products for the markets we serve.
When did you start exporting your pediatric cribs and beds?
Gina - HARD started to expand its reach outside of the U.S .and has been selling its products through distributors in a handful of other countries for the past 20 years. Strong export sales are an important part of our business plan for success. It is our hope that increased needs for improved medical care globally will translate into an increased demand for quality products such as the ones HARD produces.
There were three significant challenges we faced as exporters before we engaged with EXIM Bank:
- Turbulence in the currency markets and economic instability in many regions in the world;
- Requiring prepayment terms, or the occasional letter-of-credit, for international buyers; and
- Avoiding collections on foreign accounts, which can be very difficult.
Using the products from EXIM Bank, especially the export credit insurance on receivables, helped mitigate these risks.
What results have you seen using EXIM Bank products?
Gina - In 2012 our export business accounted for 16% of our net sales and in 2015 it accounted for 28%. Where previously we required international buyers to pre-pay up front, EXIM Bank allows us to comfortably be able to offer competitive open payment terms to more foreign customers and helps us to be more competitive globally.
I had previous experience with EXIM Bank before I came to HARD Manufacturing and knew already what a valuable tool it was. HARD Manufacturing had been an EXIM user in the past. As we discussed our plans to grow our international sales, it made sense to renew this relationship and to utilize it more fully.
What advice would you give to other small businesses who want to expand their export business?
Gina - I think there may be many businesses that have not yet used the products available through EXIM Bank that would benefit from this partnership. You do not have to be a large company to use their services and the processes are neither complicated nor time consuming. I found the application process to be straightforward and quick. The monthly reporting of shipments and overdue receivables only takes minutes. One thing that is very beneficial, especially for a company just starting to look at EXIM Bank, is to work with a good broker. It helps to have someone that can easily answer questions and walk you through the process. I have also met many people who work for EXIM Bank and their knowledge and support of small business is tremendous. Working with EXIM Bank gives your company a team of professionals whose expertise can help you compete more successfully on a global scale.
Want to learn more about the process of exporting and how EXIM Bank and other federal government agencies can help? Download the step-by-step guide to exporting from the U.S. Commercial Service here.