“They really were essential because it was a very complicated deal,” Railserve President Tim Benjamin said of EXIM Bank’s help.
Railserve has a small 30-employee headquarters just south of the Hartsfield-Jackson airport in metro Atlanta. The bulk of the company’s 1,100 employees operate locomotives called switch engines to move railcars around at utility companies’ and big manufacturers’ operations.
But Railserve also makes switch engines for its own use or to sell. The units, which are built in Railserve’s factory in Longview, Texas, are smaller than long-haul locomotives, but still weigh about 220,000 pounds.
The Africa deal helped fill a months-long gap in production, said Benjamin, preserving jobs at its 33-employee plant, which builds about one locomotive a month.
But the deal also has spurred Railserve, which had never before sold its equipment outside North America, to seek more business overseas, said Benjamin.
“We really do think there is a market in Africa specifically,” he said, partly because there are no local producers of similar equipment, and many of the continent’s tracks have the same rail gauge as U.S. railroads.
The company is headed to the African Rail Show in Johannesburg, South Africa, later this month, he said.
“We’re going to arrange quite a few meetings,” he said.