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Greek customers of U.S. products

Demonstrators during a protest against plans for new austerity measures on Oct. 19, 2011 in Athens, Greece.

Jeremy Hobson: The big plan to fix the European debt crisis is supposed to be unveiled by tomorrow, and reports say the deal will force the holders of Greek debt to accept bigger losses.

Here at Marketplace this week, we are putting a special focus on the threat Greece poses to the global economy.

Here's Marketplace's Eve Troeh with the story
of one California company that has a clear connection to Greece.


Eve Troeh: When you see Athens police hold back rioting Greeks, they carry thick, clear pieces of plastic: Riot control body shields.

Roy Paulson: They're held up in front of you like this.

That's Roy Paulson. He knows how to hold one because his company makes them.

Paulson: Of course we make the handles and the straps, and all the parts. We like to make everything ourselves.

Paulson Manufacturing makes and ships safety gear around the world from its California headquarters. The company started in the 1940s, with a toy.

Paulson: And it was called the Tom Corbett Space Cadet Goggle. It was sold on a Kellogg's Corn Flakes box for 35 cents.

Now it's known for top quality eye and face protection, used by the U.S. and international military and police. Paulson has sold to Greece for years.

Paulson: We were able to see very early that they were going to have problems, long before it was in the news. Because the government was already in anticipation, and planning to place large orders for equipment.

Large orders worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. But in the export business, you don't ship until you know you'll get paid. Last year, Paulson's Greek private distributor didn't know if he'd get paid by the Greek government, so the riot gear sat in the California warehouse. And Paulson watched the headlines.

Paulson: We heard that the EU was going to support Greece. And even before we received the money, we went ahead and made the ocean shipments because we knew that the money would then be transferred.

It was -- the next day. I ask Paulson if he's skittish about selling to Greece now. He says: no. Even if the government is in trouble, the banks seem to be OK.

Paulson: I'm shipping containers of product to my warehouse in Germany, in advance of even receiving orders, because I'm so confident of the sales of my products into the European marketplace.

He's confident not only of the demand for more police and riot gear across Europe, but of his trading partners' ability to pay for it.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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