LONGMONT — Inspired by her son, a Longmont woman has altered her business approach in the name of supporting the troops by supporting the American economy.
Juanece Messervy, co-owner of JB Specialties, decided at the beginning of this year to use her promotional products company only to support vendors that deal in products made in the United States.
She freely admits the move has cost her some business. But she’s just as quick to add that she believes it was the right thing to do.
“I had heard horror stories about many of our vendors overseas who didn’t treat people with respect on the job,” said Messervy, who has owned the company with her husband, Blair, for five years.
She said her decision was made at the urging of her son, 23-year-old Mitchell Hatfield, a sailor serving on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, based in Norfolk, Va.
“If it hadn’t been for Mitchell, I probably wouldn’t have even thought about it,” said Messervy. “Here he is, he’s in the Navy, he’s supporting America.”
JB Specialties has clients both large and small, from local businesses to large corporations such as PepsiCo.
Deciding only to go with American-made products hasn’t been easy, she said. It meant dropping some of the vendors she previously had worked with, and the whole experience has been an education.
“I thought people would be thrilled; I really did,” Messervy said. “Call me apple pie, but I thought people would be thrilled that JB Specialties was promoting American families.
“Boy, was I wrong.”
Sometimes, products made in this country can be equal in price to an imported item, such as an American-made ice scraper she showed a visitor last week.
But some imported products can be much cheaper, a factor that sometimes has led to the loss of customers.
For example, she said she can supply customers with a U.S.-made American flag lapel pin for $1, “but you can get it for 15 cents — but not made here.”
As a small businesswoman herself, Messervy recognizes that for some of her smaller clients, a product’s “price point” always will drive whether a purchase is made. But she’s winning admiration in some circles for her self-described mission of “giving support back to the communities.”
“I think it’s great she’s doing it,” said Debra Fitzgerald, president of Longmont Title Holdings. “It’s worth it to pay a little more money to have something made in the U.S.”
Fitzgerald, a regular client of JB Specialties, said she hadn’t been aware of Messervy’s decision to go American until informed by a reporter. But she said she’ll do what she can to support the idea.
“Maybe prices would come down if more people bought things locally — things made in this country,” Fitzgerald said. “I think then the prices would come down — that’s the message we need to get out.”
For Messervy, telling a potential customer about her new policy sometimes brings a quick end to an inquiry. And the policy certainly means more research into an order, to adhere to the policy and to offer her clients the best price.
But she’s adamant about doing what she can, from her small Longmont office, to keep jobs in America.
“If we can’t help these types of businesses, what are we in business for, as small business owners?” she said. “But there’s my apple pie attitude.”