Exporter Profiles: AFEX Fire Suppression Systems

The Ex-Im Bank Gives Small Business a Competitive Edge

For over 45 years, AFEX Fire Suppression Systems (AFEX) has specialized in the manufacture of fire suppression systems for off-road heavy equipment. As a family-owned company based in Raleigh, North Carolina, AFEX has grown significantly in the last twelve years in no small part to its export business, which comprises about 65 percent of its sales. Continually expanding into new markets, AFEX provides many of the largest mines around the world with rugged and reliable fire suppression systems built to withstand everyday abuse and reduce equipment downtime.

After discovering Ex-Im Bank five years ago, AFEX has been a frequent user of its programs for international deals. With Ex-Im Bank’s credit insurance program, AFEX is able to insure its foreign receivables and is guaranteed a reliable payment for their products. Conversely, AFEX’s foreign customers have also used Ex-Im Bank loans and loan guarantees to buy their materials. “Ex-Im Bank takes the anxiety out of shipping abroad and allows us to take a leap of faith with credit from new customers,” says Mark Cavallaro, Corporate Officer.

Small businesses don’t want to just stay in business—they want to expand. In the past year, AFEX has made sales in six new countries, with hopes to grow their business even more. Due to their heavy presence in the mining industry and focus on international sales, there is no doubt that AFEX will be impacted by an Ex-Im Bank shutdown. “It would make it harder for us to expand and even restrict our growth,” says Cavallaro. Projects in emerging markets would be unachievable without Ex-Im Bank’s support.

Without Ex-Im Bank, niche companies like AFEX would not be able to compete in the marketplace with larger, more generalized manufacturers. “Small businesses need programs like this,” says Cavallaro. “It helps us compete with the big guys. Any advantage you can give a small business to succeed in this marketplace is welcome.”

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