Tours Pennsylvania Company During National Women’s Small Business Month
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 30, 2020
Office of Communications (202) 565-3203
ERIE, Pennsylvania — Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) President and Chairman Kimberly A. Reed today presented an Exporter of the Year award to AcousticSheep LLC, a minority- and woman-owned small business that manufactures headphones designed for sleeping and running, and toured the company’s production facilities in Erie, Pennsylvania.
AcousticSheep, which has relied on EXIM’s export credit insurance to support its international sales since 2017, was honored during EXIM’s 2020 Annual Conference in September. The company was founded in 2007 by Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, a family physician, and her husband, Jason Wolfe, a video game developer, growing the small business from a kitchen-table operation into an award-winning company with 25 employees.
From left: AcousticSheep Co-Founder and CTO Jason Wolfe, EXIM Chairman Kimberly Reed, AcousticSheep Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Wei-Shin Lai
Chairman Reed’s visit to AcousticSheep came during National Women’s Small Business Month. She was joined for the tour by Tim Butler, District Director for U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (PA-16).
“AcousticSheep serves as a great example of how EXIM helps minority- and women-owned small businesses succeed in the global marketplace, and I am proud to recognize this innovative company as an EXIM Exporter of the Year,” said Chairman Reed. “There is nothing more inspiring than seeing in-person a great business built from scratch, like this one, and watching dedicated employees turn an innovative idea into a product that people around the world love.”
As AcousticSheep grew, the company began selling its products internationally, but experienced difficulty when customers defaulted on payments. EXIM’s export credit insurance provided protection against the risk of nonpayment and enabled the company to continue increasing exports in its original markets and expand into two new countries. Exporting accounts for about 25 percent of sales and sustains local jobs. Since 2017, EXIM has supported exports valued at nearly $170,000 to New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. The company’s policies are facilitated by EXIM broker Meridian Finance Group, a Texel Company, headquartered in Los Angeles, with offices nationwide.
“We are incredibly honored to be receiving the Exporter of the Year award,” said Dr. Lai, AcousticSheep’s CEO. “As a small business, EXIM has given us the confidence to work with new distributors in more risky countries as well as expand our sales to existing distributors, giving them more credit — and increased sales — over time. We used to worry about doing enough due diligence on international partners or asking them to pay up front. Now, we are still careful, but we know that EXIM has our back if anything goes wrong.”
Since 2014, EXIM has supported exports valued at $5 billion from 210 companies — including 142 small businesses like AcousticSheep — across Pennsylvania. Approximately 90 percent of EXIM’s authorizations directly support small businesses.
U.S. companies, particularly small businesses, can utilize EXIM’s financing tools and resources to increase their international sales, showcase their “Made in the USA” products, 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. In addition, EXIM has implemented COVID-19 (coronavirus) relief measures for U.S. exporters and financial institutions to enhance the agency’s existing programs.
AcousticSheep relies on EXIM’s export credit insurance to support international sales of its headphones designed for sleeping and running.
EXIM is an independent federal agency that promotes and supports American jobs by providing competitive and necessary export credit to support sales of U.S. goods and services to international buyers. A robust EXIM can level the global playing field for U.S. exporters when they compete against foreign companies that receive support from their governments. EXIM also contributes to U.S. economic growth by helping to create and sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs in exporting businesses and their supply chains across the United States. In recent years, approximately 90 percent of the total number of the agency’s authorizations has directly supported small businesses. Since 1992, EXIM has generated more than $9 billion for the U.S. Treasury for repayment of U.S. debt.
For more information about EXIM, please visit www.exim.gov.