“I am a significantly different person and businessman because of my relationship with Northern Initiatives. They have always been there for me, and have been a big part of my company’s success.” – Bob Jacquart, owner of Jacquart Fabric Products
In 1998 — 40 years after his father founded Jacquart Fabric Products in Ironwood, Mich., — CEO Bob Jacquart was faced with a rather nice problem. His company had grown significantly, from a custom cut and sew shop with a single employee to a multi-brand business with dozens of skilled professionals. They had an abundance of pet beds to deliver, but the company’s inventory and shipping processes needed strengthening.
Although Bob had never before asked for outside help, he took a chance and called Northern Initiatives. He recalls, “The consultant knocked it out of the park. It was remarkable.”
With that, a partnership was born.
Over the past two decades, Northern Initiatives has supplied Bob and his company with financial support and know-how that have allowed him to continue to grow his business and institute a culture of continuous improvement. The CDFI loan program has provided Jacquart Fabric Products with funds to help with capital needs, supplementing bank loans.
Equally impactful is the training, mentorship, and networking Bob and his team have received. Northern Initiatives’ programs have helped the company reduce overhead, decrease order-to-delivery times, stabilize cash flow, and increase profitability.
Bob has returned the favor by sitting on Northern Initiatives’ board of directors, providing advice about community loans, and serving as an informal ambassador for the institution. As he sees it, the two companies have essentially grown up together. “We have kind of a back and forth mentorship. I get access to their knowledge and expertise, and I’m happy to share mine. As both a customer and an adviser, I enjoy networking with sharp, like-minded business people.”
Dennis West, Northern Initiatives’ former president, agrees. “More than a decade ago, during our first introduction, Bob and I agreed that we could see having a long-term relationship. That relationship has helped add jobs and growth to not only the Ironwood community but many others as well. It has proven to be a relationship that both institutions cherish.”
As Bob has begun spending more time on community improvement initiatives, such as the renovations at Copper Peak, Northern Initiatives has continued to provide guidance and support. He would not have it any other way. “I am a significantly different person and businessman because of my relationship with Northern Initiatives. They have always been there for me, and have been a big part of my company’s success.” Nearly 60 years since Jacquart Fabric Products opened its doors, the business continues to grow, thanks to hard work, innovation, and a mutually beneficial partnership dedicated to helping communities thrive.