Makers of American goods get boost from affordable community loans

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June 28, 2021

Among the American public, there’s a common belief that nothing is made in America anymore, perhaps tinted by the fact that much of our clothing and electronics are made overseas. But did you know domestic manufacturing has actually grown in recent years? In fact, economic experts say 2021 will likely be another growth year for American manufacturers, largely thanks to the perennial boost from trade.

While many of the everyday products we buy today carry labels from foreign nations, American-made wares still surround us. And the vast majority of customers actually prefer buying them over imported ones, according to one recent study from Consumer Reports.  


FE Small Business Finance, a leading U.S. community lender and nonprofit, is a staunch promoter of American entrepreneurship, having funded many small business owners who either largely or wholly make their products in the States. Here’s a sampling:

Waterstone Faucets — Murrieta, Calif.

What they do: Led by president and owner Chris Kuran, the team at Waterstone Faucets takes pride in making beautiful, luxe kitchen faucets that are built to last. Machinists and engineers alike work out of their Murrieta, Calif. factory, producing high-end faucets beloved by architects, homebuilders and even celebrities — Taylor Swift and Food Network’s Guy Fieri are part of Waterstone’s fan base.

Their products: Waterstone is best known for its patented Gantry Pulldown faucets. They also manufacture pulldown faucets, bridge faucets and general kitchen faucets to fit everyone’s style and personality. They consider the faucet to be the “jewelry for your kitchen.”


How we helped: Kuran, a California native and military veteran, created Waterstone with the commitment of keeping all production domestic. Since 1999, the popularity of their faucets has skyrocketed, causing Kuran and his team to outgrow their original facility.

Kuran worked with FE Small Business Finance to buy a 42,000-square-foot building in Murrieta through an SBA 504 real estate loan. This allowed Waterstone to grow its range of products and workforce. In fact, the company created more than 70 new jobs following the move to the new space. Making the financing deal sweeter was qualifying for FE’s VetLoan Advantage program, which saved Kuran $3,000 in loan costs.

How to find them: http://www.waterstoneco.com/ | For more on Waterstone, check out their FE success story.

Related: How we mobilize military entrepreneurs, special terms and discounts

California Modern Woodworks — Los Angeles


What they do: California Modern Woodworks is a Los Angeles-based company that specializes in luxury, handcrafted furniture. Their pieces are in the style of mid-century modern, a popular aesthetic synonymous with clean lines and simplicity. California Modern Woodworks’ designs pair sustainable woods with metals like brass and chrome, and can be customized for each client.

Behind California Modern Woodworks is husband-and-wife duo Rafael Martinez and Leila Bardales. Hailing from a family of woodworkers, Rafael started a new furniture retail business with his sister in 2008. Later on, Rafael became interested in mid-century style furniture, which prompted him and Leila to open California Modern Woodworks.

Their products: They specialize in credenzas and tables. Take a peek at these beautiful pieces in their catalogue.

How we helped: As the company grew, Rafael and Leila needed business capital quickly to maintain their pace. They locked in two online-only loans; one of them charged 39 percent APR, which is unsustainably high. FE Small Business Finance was able to finance the couple with a $150,000 loan with a substantially lower, fixed interest rate through FE affiliate, Small Business Finance Fund. Also known as a CDFI, or community development financial institution, the affiliate focuses on helping minority and low- to middle-income small business owners in the Los Angeles region.


FE’s loan allowed Rafael and Leila to pay off their online-only loans, buy inventory and expand their workforce, paving the way for more growth.

How to find them: https://www.californiamodernwoodworks.com/ | For more on California Modern Woodworks, check out their FE success story.

Related: How buying instead of leasing drove growth for San Diego military veteran

Sugarbird Sweets & Teas — Glendale, Calif.

Kei Okumura

What they do: After a stint in the film business, Kei Okumura decided to chase her dream of becoming a pastry chef. In 2002, she left Los Angeles for Paris to study at an elite baking and catering program. After graduating at the top of her class and training at Michelin-starred restaurants, she returned to Los Angeles looking to make her own culinary mark in the American restaurant scene.

After gaining some experience at Los Angeles-area eateries, Okumura took the leap and launched her own baking business and catering company, Sugarbird Sweets and Teas. At first, she sold her artisanal baked sweets at farmers market stands in South Pasadena and Larchmont. But word about her delectable treats traveled fast, leading to demand from restaurateurs and private clients for catering. Over time, Okumura also added special teas to her offerings.


Their products: Sugarbird is probably best known for its specialty scones. Their eclectic flavors range from matcha white chocolate to buttermilk cream cheese. Sugarbird operates out of a tucked-away location in the Los Angeles Financial District. Not close? No problem. You can buy them online or from several brick-and-mortar locations. The company also offers shortbread and jams to provide you a complete afternoon-tea experience.

How we helped: In 2015, FE provided Okumura a business capital loan for $50,000 to help grow her company. The capital covered operating costs including rent, payroll and advertising and marketing to promote the downtown Los Angeles location.

How to find them: http://sugarbirdsweets.com/ | For more on Sugarbird Sweets & Teas, check out their success story.


Feeling inspired? If you’re ready to launch or grow your business, FE Small Business Finance can help you out. We offer several financing options for business owners.

Whether you’re looking for capital to expand your workforce or purchase a commercial property, tell our loan experts about your goals, and they’ll work to match you with a financing plan that best suits you.

Let’s talk! Reach us at loaninfo@cdcloans.com or (619) 243-8667.



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