Success StoriesWe're Celebrating National Women's Business Month with Lynn West
October is National Women’s Business Month and in Polk County we are celebrating the contributions of local women business owners, including Lynn West, owner of MRL Manufacturing, Inc. (MRL). Located in Amery, MRL manufactures precision component products for Over-the-Road, Heavy Equipment, Recreational, Construction and Agricultural Industries. MRL Manufacturing started as an offshoot of a family manufacturing business and Lynn chose to locate it in Amery to take advantage of the local labor force.
At the time of their incorporation in 1994, MRL was awarded an SBA Loan, Revolving Loan Funds through the DOD with the City of Amery and Tax Incentive Financing (TIF) for their lot. The community of Amery has been incredibly supportive, and Lynn credits their “work family” with the company’s success. “We love the area and the people in Amery. They are more like a family than anything else and our employees take great pride in what they produce. Our goal is to continue to grow and employe as many individuals as we can.”
There has been a 3,000% increase in women business owners since 1972. Lynn West is one of them.
In the past fifty years women have made significant leaps in business ownership. Since 1972, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. has risen 3,000 percent. It’s an impressive statistic, especially considering the fact that women were required to have a male co-signer in order to get a loan up until 1988. Today women own 39 percent of small businesses in the U.S. In the last two decades, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 114 percent — a growth rate of more than two and a half times the national average. Lynn West is one of several women business owners in Polk County contributing to that statistic. We wanted to learn more about her journey into business ownership, what the process has been like, and why she enjoys working for herself. Here is what she had to say -
Q: What do you like about owning your own business?
A: The freedom to make decisions and the people (family as we like to call them).
Q: As a woman business owner, did you face any unique challenges or have any unique opportunities because of your gender?
A: Absolutely. Manufacturing is perceived as a “man’s business”! And with a name like Lynn West, that is the first assumption! As for opportunities, yes, being a woman business owner initially helped our company to win contracts. We manufacture component parts for military tracked vehicles, so “woman owned” gave us a better classification and was a big reason why we got into business, but that is not the case as much now.
Q: Why should more women start their own business?
A: If you have the drive, then the sky’s the limit! In this day and age, there should be nothing stopping women!
Polk County supports entrepreneurs and anyone looking to start or move a business to the area. For more information or to learn about available resources, contact Vince Netherland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Lynn or MRL Manufacturing click here, www.mrlmfg.com.