Terry Cochran didn’t know it at the time, but growing up on a mint farm helped prepare him for his career.
Mr. Cochran and his brother run Norwest Ingredients in Royal City, Wash., a 15-person company that makes mint and other oils used in gum, confection and a range of oral care products from mouthwash to toothpaste. They buy mint oil from farms around the country and process it to ensure it’s safe and of high quality before selling it in giant barrels that cost more than $10,000.
He and his brother started the company in 1998 and started exporting shortly thereafter. They’ve gained enough credibility that they count toothpaste giant Colgate among their customers. But as they grew, getting financing from private banks was a problem.
“As we grew and more and more of our sales were overseas, our local banks began to get a bit uneasy about it because as you know once it’s overseas it can be hard to get paid,” Mr. Cochran said. So the company turned to the U.S. Export-Import Bank and has been using Ex-Im loan guarantees for its customers ever since. Their sales have increased, on average, about 20% per year since they began exporting.
Norwest Ingredients is like the many other small firms that rely on the Ex-Im Bank when private banks aren’t willing or able to help them expand abroad. The Ex-Im Bank has supported 1.2 million jobs in the last five years, and those jobs could be at risk if Congress doesn’t reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank by the end of September.
Mr. Cochran doesn’t want to see that happen. If the Ex-Im Bank doesn’t get reauthorized, his sales will suffer.
And some of the company’s suppliers, including the employees and sons who work on mint farms like Mr. Cochran did as a kid, will suffer.
“Exporters for Ex-Im” is a blog series focused on the importance of the Export-Import Bank to manufacturers. To learn more or to tell Congress you support reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, visit http://www.nam.org/Issues/Trade/Ex-Im-Bank.aspx.