In 1924, L.R Rice started selling his family’s honey door to door, carting the jars behind him in a wagon from one house to the next in northern Colorado. Nearly a century later, the little business he started now sells raw, unfiltered, American-made honey to customers around the world.
Ronna Rice - L.R.’s granddaughter-in-law and now CEO of Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey - says the business could reach even more international customers and create even more jobs if Congress approves a pivotal new trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
"Our mission is to lead the way in small business and to provide the highest quality U.S. raw and unfiltered honey available to people nationwide and around the globe," said Rice, who was invited to attend and sat with First Lady Michelle Obama at Tuesday’s State of the Union address. Rice, who runs the company with her husband, three children and a family friend, later added: “To be honored by The White House at this event is a moment we will treasure forever.”
Based in the town of Greeley, Colorado, Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey recently expanded its sales to Asia, now selling to customers in Japan, China and South Korea. Today, the company has annual export sales of about $500,000, which help support the firm’s 20 workers. In an interview with her town’s local newspaper, Rice explained that she was extended an invitation to the president’s speech “because of the company’s growth into international markets, which was propelled forward by free-trade policies.”
Her company is hoping those policies will continue with approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
"In the event the Trans-Pacific Partnership goes through, we would benefit as a small business as it would make it easy to be involved in more trade with countries in the Pacific Rim," Tony Landretti, the small business’s chief commercial officer and a long-time friend of the Rice family, said in a statement. Landretti added that the Asian market expansion has enabled Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey not only to create more jobs, but also to give back more to the local community.
During his speech, President Barack Obama urged Congress to approve the 12-nation deal without delay. He noted that the deal would “open markets, protect workers and the environment, and advance American leadership in Asia,” which would in turn support job creation back home. Indeed, a report released this week projected the deal would yield $100 billion in benefits for the U.S. economy.
“You want to show our strength in this century?” Obama asked. “Approve this agreement.”
Whether the president’s message resonated with lawmakers, we can’t be certain. But it surely struck a chord with small businesses around the country, including the folks at Rice's Lucky Clover Honey.
“If the U.S. as a country wasn’t supporting our ability to take part in free trade, [expanding] wouldn’t be possible,” Landretti told the Greeley Tribune. “It’s all about supporting small business.”