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Small Business Exporter of the Year: Mearthane is Exporting Rhode Island to World

Small Business Exporter of the Year: Mearthane is Exporting Rhode Island to World

Founded in 1965, Mearthane Products Corporation (MPC) is an internationally known leader in the development and manufacture of innovative polyurethane based parts and components for challenging markets worldwide. Their patented formulations and versatile manufacturing provide unmatched performance in Office Automation, Banking, Postal Systems, and a wide variety of other applications worldwide. This profile caught the attention of Kevin Redmond, who invested in the company in 1998. In 2008, Kevin became owner and CEO of MPC, and began implementing a new strategy to grow Mearthane in a rapidly-changing marketplace.

The onset of globalization in manufacturing had an immense effect on MPC, as the relocation of large Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to assembly points outside the United States presented new challenges, but also opportunities. This trend put MPC, a dedicated Rhode Island manufacturer, in a more difficult position to service their traditional markets. As a scrappy, never-say-die competitor, MPC dedicated themselves to climbing the value-added scale by developing a more unique product set for customers.

With many of MPC’s traditional customers looking for a less expensive foreign alternatives, Kevin and his wife Joan, the company’s controller, looked to new and emerging markets. Kevin and Joan began working with Ray Fogarty and Linda Wolfe of the John H. Chafee Center for International Business located at Bryant University. They were made aware of the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), an SBA-funded program that helps businesses defray costs for projects aimed at boosting their export business. In 2010, with the help of a STEP grant, Kevin and Joan went on their first trade mission to Israel. They returned with an opportunity that turned into a half million dollars in business and a new-found awareness of potential exporting opportunities. Since then, the company has been a regular participant in RI Trade Missions and international outreach activities.

A few years later, as their export business grew, Kevin and his friend Pete Kaczmarek, now MPC’s President and COO, developed plans to accelerate the company’s global presence. Kaczmarek’s previous international experience supported MPC’s strategic direction. Kaczmarek explained some of the many ways they have used STEP grant funds: “For example, we just received a grant to overhaul our website. The goal is to improve accessibility internationally, provide translation capabilities, and improve its speed; all these are necessary to attract a global audience.” Kaczmarek continued, “I’m impressed by Rhode Island’s programs for increasing our manufacturing base through international growth.” MPC has also used STEP funds to create translated brochures for the Japanese market. This demonstrates to Japanese customers a dedication to their markets. Japanese and other Asian partnerships continue to be a part of the company’s export growth plans.

Mearthane doesn’t stop their SBA participation at STEP grants.  They have also utilized SBA 504 and 7(a) loans to economically invest and expand. “We set about creating an ownership structure that improved the long-term prospects of the company - domestically and as a global exporter. We always felt our technology was valued by the international marketplace.” said Kevin Redmond. “The SBA offered loan products to change our capital structure, which allowed us to compete internationally. We are great believers in these tools and are already planning to utilize them again, to expand our business through investment here in Rhode Island. ” added Redmond.  

For their accomplishments in expanding the global economy, the U.S. Small Business Administration is proud to recognize Kevin Redmond, CEO; Joan Redmond, Controller; and Peter Kaczmarek, President and COO of Mearthane Products Corporation, as the 2017 Rhode Island Small Business Exporter of the Year.