Since 1972, Texas based Air Tractor Inc. has built and sold thousands of top-line agricultural airplanes that have helped foster agricultural development in America and abroad. With a business model focused on engaging the global marketplace, Air Tractor’s development and growth is a testament to how American companies can bring their quality products to the rest of the world.
A 100 percent employee owned company, Air Tractor has been able to expand to new international markets thanks in large part to financing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank). Air Tractor has used Ex-Im Bank’s medium-term insurance for 15 years to export an estimated $50 million of its aircraft, primarily to small private-sector buyers in Argentina and Brazil. The company uses the Ex-Im Bank’s medium-term policies to provide supplier credits, which are loans to international buyers that the company originates and then sells to a commercial lender. About 25 planes are expected to be financed annually through this process.
Vice President of Finance David Ickert, a native of Olney, Texas, has been vital in fostering the company’s growth, and he has witnessed how the Ex-Im Bank has provided his company with opportunities to engage the international marketplace and subsequently create jobs in his home state, “Having been involved with the Ex-Im process over these past 15 years, I have witnessed the value of exporting to job creation by a small business. I appreciate the Administration’s focus on exporting as expressed through the National Export Initiative. We have a great national potential to create jobs by involving more small businesses in the exporting arena.”
As recently as 2010, Air Tractor crossed the 50 percent export line by exporting airplanes to 14 different countries, but Ickert sees far greater possibilities for the company ahead, “This is an exciting number for us, but in the scheme of the world is a small number. We have many more opportunities. We believe that our product improves agriculture and thus, helps feed and clothe the world. That is a proud mission for us. With population growth worldwide and a growing world middle class, that gives us many more opportunities to grow and spread our mission.”
Ickert has seen first-hand the gains that can be made and jobs that can be created through the effective use of our country’s export system, and he believes Air Tractor’s model is one that can be repeated throughout the country, “If we can create jobs in Olney Texas by exporting, it can be done anywhere in this country!”
Ari Matusiak is Executive Director of the White House Business Council