As a leading distributor of fruit and vegetable plants, Oregon-based Fall Creek Farm & Nursery wanted to expand its operations to take advantage of a growing market for premium blueberries. In many ways, blueberries are the perfect product for a grower—highly profitable, easily shipped and with significant and acknowledged health benefits for the consumer—and Fall Creek was positioning itself to take full advantage of opportunities to expand its foreign market share by selling premium blueberry plants to commercial fruit growers.
Because it was targeting commercial growers in countries around the world, Farm Creek had to quantify and manage the business risks these sales create. “Measuring a potential customer’s creditworthiness in the U.S. and Canada is fairly simple, and we have legal means to pursue anyone who doesn’t pay their invoices,” said Boris Aust, the company’s CFO. “But some countries often have very little reliable information on customer payment history, and taking them to court can be costly with very little chance of ever collecting on an unpaid invoice.”
Given that Fall Creek relies on the value of its inventory and receivables to secure its bank loans and finance its growth, overcoming these challenges was crucial to the long-term health of the business. The company needed access not only to reliable credit insurance to protect against potential losses, it also needed access to comprehensive credit and company information worldwide and a reliable way to check out customer references in other countries. “We wanted to transact business with customers as quickly as possible, but we also needed to ensure before we extended credit that these customers would not default on large transactions,” said Aust.