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SBA Loan is Remedy for Entrepreneur’s Itch for Success

Leonard Moon of US Organic Group Corp

PASSAIC, NJ---Leonard Moon will tell you that a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration was the remedy for his itch for success.

Moon, who worked for Fortune 100 companies managing hedge and mutual funds left it all behind in 2011 to start US Organic Group Corp. a Passaic-based company that started with an organic anti-itch balm and has since expanded its product line to include organic repellents, organic body oils and organic baby oils.

“I was looking for a challenge,” said Moon.  He found it when his friend told him about an organic anti-itch balm she developed for her son, who had a serious itching problem and eczema.  After trying several over the counter products on the market, her home remedy quickly made her son’s itching much better and eventually cured. 

 After hearing her story, Moon thought there was a business in the making.  “My friend and I formed a partnership,” said Moon.  “She focuses on product development and I take care of the day- to-day operations of managing the business.”

They started off small, making batches of the anti-itch balm from Moon’s home in Palisades Park.   There was enough interest in the product that they began to generate modest sales.   “You have to remember we were a start-up and it took us time to bring everything together, including packaging and obtaining certifications from the FDA and USDA Organic.”

However, there came a point early on where they knew, in order to grow the business and bring it out of the home, they would need the proper financing to expand.  To his dismay, not one commercial lender was interested in investing in US Organic Group Corp.

“It was humbling and disheartening experience,” said Moon.  “At the time we had $10,000 in sales and we knew we had great potential along with a quality product and a niche market. It’s true we did not have collateral and we did not have two years’ worth of income, but we received great guidance and advice from Vince Vicari, director of the New Jersey Small Business Development Center at Bergen Community College and knew we had what it takes to succeed.”

Fortunately, Moon and his partner found Nathalia Giraldo, director of finance for the Regional Business Assistance Corporation (RBAC), a provider of SBA Microloans and Community Advantage loans.  “Thankfully, Nathalia took the time to read our business plan,” said Moon.  “She had a keen insight and understood the vision we had for the company and the value of our product line.”

As a result of their meeting, RBAC approved the company for a $10,000 SBA microloan and a $50,000 SBA Community Advantage loans used to purchase inventory to kick start the business.  RBAC later came back with an additional $50,000 under SBA’s Community Advantage loan for working capital to help the company to sustain its growth and buy materials to fulfill orders.

 Thanks to the SBA financing, the company now employs seven workers where they  formulate, package and ship its organic product line of anti-itch balm, anti-bug sprays, body oils, baby oils, beard oil, shea butter, carrier oils and essential to its customers throughout the U.S., as well as China, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Taiwan. With the help of a distributor who specializes in organic offerings, the company’s products have found their way into hundreds of retail outlets and may also be purchased online. The company launches new items to the market twice a year.  Now new facial and hair treatment items and raw organic ingredients for DIY customers are now part of the company’s product line.

“The impact of an SBA loan is far-reaching,” said SBA New Jersey District Director Al Titone.  “SBA loan products like our Microloan and Community Advantage loans are providing start-up companies like US Organic Group Corp with the necessary capital to grow their business.  These alternative community-based funding programs are in place to encourage and promote entrepreneurship and that’s what they did for Leonard Moon.”

 According to Moon, the company’s sales have grown 10 times in two consecutive years. “We want to be aggressive when we can with our growth,” said Moon.  “Currently we are working seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Our plan is to automate so that we can produce more products and fulfill more orders.  We really are just scratching the surface when it comes to reaching our potential.”

He points to the recent discovery of the Zika virus, as an opportunity to reach new markets with the company’s organic Anti Bug Spray.  “We’re not limited to business,” said Moon. “We are interested in contributing back to the community.  Our philosophy is to be honest, to be fair and to grow.”

And Leonard Moon and his partner seem to be doing just that; organically, of course.