Small Businesses in NC Find Success in Exporting
There’s a growing number of North Carolina-made products being exported overseas. One of them comes from a small business in Kernersville, whose famous pickles are now being shipped to China.
Jenny Fulton is looking over orders for her company’s products. She's wearing a green shirt and a belt buckle with her company's logo, sure signs that she's crazy about her product.“I just delivered pickles with my jeep in Winston-Salem. You are always going to see us with something about Miss Jenny . We eat, sleep, and breathe pickles 24-7,” says Fulton.Miss Jenny’s Pickles began production in 2010. Last year, Fulton and her business partner Ashlee moved their small business into the former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco warehouse in Kernersville.Today, they ship their pickle varieties to several states across the country and Overseas. Fulton is working with the North Carolina Agriculture Department and other state and federal agencies to export her products to additional countries.“Without living in N.C., we probably would not have never exported because I wouldn’t know who to talk to in China or Germany,” says Fulton.Fulton says “ I think at the state level we do a fantastic job because we have programs in place. As far as the federal level, it about brand awareness, and the XM Bank has been invaluable in helping us also with financing. When we can offer financing to cutomers, it increases your orders by 30 percent.”U.S. Senator Kay Hagan toured Miss Jenny’s Pickle plant last week to see firsthand how small businesses are shipping the made in N.C. Label around the world. She says she wants to see Congress invest more in technology support for small businesses. For example, Hagan says there are many places in N.C. that still don't have access to high-speed broad band Internet.“It is almost impossible to have a competitive business if you don’t have high-speed broad band Internet access. One of the fascinating things about this company is to know that they are exporting to China and they are reading emails coming in from China reading them in English through Google Translate, so technology is crucial for the creation and growth of small businesses,” says Hagan.Since 1984, the The Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) has helped over 100,000 small to medium size companies in NC grow their businesses. Numerous sectors in the Piedmont , including furniture, high tech and chemical companies are successfully exporting their products.“The numbers prove it. The last couple of years we have seen a steady increase in exports from NC,” says Owen George, with the SBTDC Office in Winston-Salem.George added, “In the loss that we have seen from some of our more traditional industries that were here for 50, 60 to 70 years a lot of people were displaced and it in the blood, the second generation of those people whose moms and dads built those companies a lot of those folks are still here and now they are starting other types of businesses and industries,” says George.Meanwhile, Jennie Fulton says she hopes to grow her staff of five full-time and five part time employees as the company expands its markets. Her goal is to make a million in sales this year. Fulton says she plans on putting Miss Jenny’s Pickles in 800 more stores in the United States within the year. She also plans to enter markets in Canada and Mongolia.