Mint Oil Maker Wants Ex-Im Bank Reauthorized
Norwest Ingredients – Royal City, Washington
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, Washington. A 15-person company, they 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.
The two brothers 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 commercial banks became 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. The company turned to the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which has approved the company loan guarantees for overseas customers. Their sales have increased, on average, about 20% annually since they began exporting.
Norwest Ingredients is like the many other small firms that rely on the Ex-Im Bank when commercial 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 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 who work on mint farms like Mr. Cochran did, will suffer.