Export-Import Bank of the United States Recognizes Eight Customers as Exporters of the Year at 2023 Annual Conference

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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) awarded eight EXIM customers representing the diversity of American exports and innovation as its Exporters of the Year at its 2023 Annual Conference.

“The eight exporters recognized this year serve as prime examples of the strength of U.S. business and American exporting,” said EXIM President and Chair Reta Jo Lewis. “EXIM is dedicated to facilitating the exporting success of U.S. small businesses as we work to reshore American jobs and reinforce the domestic supply chain. This year’s recipients show how EXIM financing can make a difference and help us fulfill our mission of supporting American jobs by facilitating U.S. exports.”

The recipients of this year’s awards are:

Located in Portage, IN, BNutty is a woman-owned company that was founded as a result of two moms’ shared desire to provide a healthy snack solution for their kids. Seven years into business, the founders are utilizing EXIM insurance to mitigate risk from international buyers. BNutty now exports across the globe with customers in Hong Kong, South Korea and the Philippines.

“EXIM took the time to point out things that other customers or small-business owners encountered that could lead to an expensive mistake, and we were able to take those lessons that other companies learned the hard way and avoid a lot of that.” — Carol Podolak & Joy Thompkins, Founders

Air Tractor Inc.
Founded in Olney, TX in 1972, Air Tractor manufactures single-engine agricultural, firefighting and utility aircraft. An EXIM customer since 1995, Air Tractor has leveraged EXIM support to expand its exports to more than 35 countries.

“Historically, over the years, our exporting started very small. Recently, we have grown to roughly and the EXIM support has allowed us to do so. We export roughly 25 to 30 percent of our product with EXIM support. We have about 375 employees in a small town in North Texas and all of them are supported by EXIM Bank. So, it's pretty simple math to say 25 percent of those people in small rural America would go home without a job – plus our suppliers and other partners – because 25 percent wouldn't be there without EXIM Bank.” — Phil Jeske, Finance Manager

KOVAL Distillery
Located in Chicago, IL, KOVAL Distillery was founded in 2008 as the first distillery to open in Chicago since the mid-1800s. KOVAL produces organic spirits and liqueurs, including a variety of gins, whiskeys, brandies and vodkas. In 2017, KOVAL sought EXIM’s export credit insurance to expand their sales to international customers while receiving the security it needed to diversify. Exports now account for 30 percent of the company’s sales with nearly a quarter of its staff dedicated to export operations. To date, KOVAL spirits can now be purchased in 55 countries.

“It was a real ‘aha’ moment when we realized that we could insure our exports through EXIM, and it made us feel so much more empowered and comfortable engaging in even more exports, because of that.” — Sonat Birnecker-Hart, President

Auburn Manufacturing, Inc.
Auburn Manufacturing, Inc. is a woman-owned company that was founded in 1979 in Mechanic Falls, ME. The company is an industry leader that produces high performance textiles for extreme temperature protection. An EXIM customer since 2009, Auburn Manufacturing is a small U.S. manufacturer that sells its products to over 30 countries across the globe.

“I don't think you can be too small to export. You could be two people and export your products. When we started my company, we were two people, and we were exporting when we were maybe four people. We're a little over 50 people at this point, and we're exporting quite nicely. And the numbers keep growing. And that's a small company. You can be small and be successful and be a good exporter.” — Kathie Leonard, President & CEO

A minority-owned company that was founded in 1988, GEMCO, or Global Export Marketing Co., LTD, is a New York-based company that helps American brands reach out to the world. Driven by quality, service, and reliability, the firm has experienced more than three decades of successful relationships with a wide range of customers. GEMCO has been an EXIM customer since 2008, leveraging several of EXIM’s financing capabilities to internationally expand, currently reaching 60 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

“GEMCO, with EXIM Bank’s support, has turned what was perceived to be barriers to some companies into opportunities for growth for GEMCO’s brands and for our partners’ brands.” — Zahira Fazal, Corporate Secretary

Flow Sciences, Inc.
Established in 1987 in Leland, NC, Flow Sciences, Inc. is a small business that designs and manufactures containment solutions and equipment for science labs and laboratories. With target customers in the pharmaceutical industry ranging from consultants to engineers, Flow Sciences is known for its strong safety, quality, and versatility. An EXIM customer since 2006, Flow Sciences has utilized EXIM support for more than $14.5 million in export volume and exports to 15 countries including Canada, India and Spain.

“The best move we made was that we partnered with EXIM, and we chose an EXIM broker who had a tremendous amount of experience and was able to guide us through the early development stages of our exporting initiatives.” — Steve Janz, VP of International Sales 

Competitive Engineering Inc.
Based in Tucson, AZ, Competitive Engineering is an engineering and manufacturing firm that has specialized in precision-machined parts since 1987. A small business, Competitive Engineering has leveraged the support of EXIM’s Working Capital Guarantee Program for 18 years. The company’s relationship with EXIM has led to exports accounting for approximately 40 percent of the company’s revenue and has added at least 10 jobs.

“EXIM’s support has been critical to CEI’s continued success. Exports constitute a significant portion of our business, and we need our foreign accounts receivable to be included as collateral. EXIM’s program has given us access to the working capital we need to sustain our exports and the jobs of our hard-working employees.” — Don Martin, President

Montachem International Inc.
Montachem International is a minority-owned business that has been serving the plastics industry since 1988. Headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Montachem distributes a complete line of thermoplastic resins and related additives to meet the needs of plastics converters worldwide. A user of EXIM’s export credit insurance, Montachem has insured more than 100 foreign customers through EXIM in countries throughout Africa, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Europe.

U.S. companies, particularly small businesses, can utilize EXIM’s financing tools and resources to increase their international sales, showcase their American made products, and create and sustain American jobs. By partnering with EXIM, exporters can mitigate the risk of nonpayment on international sales, offer credit terms to foreign buyers and access working capital loan guarantees.


EXIM Bank an independent federal agency that provides competitive and necessary export credit to overseas purchasers of U.S. exports to promote and support American jobs. A robust and fully functioning EXIM Bank can assist the United States in leveling the global playing field for U.S. exporters when they compete against foreign companies that receive the support of their national export credit agencies. EXIM also contributes to U.S. economic growth and the support of more than a million jobs through the support of thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) around the country. Since 2000, EXIM Bank has provided $14.6 billion to the U.S. Treasury after paying for all of its administrative and program expenses.

For more information about EXIM, please visit www.exim.gov.