Tamara Somerville, Vice President of Posi Lock Puller, Inc. in Cooperstown, has been selected as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 2013 North Dakota Small Business Exporter of the Year. This annual award recognizes an exceptional small business that is successfully engaged in exporting. Posi Lock was selected following a statewide competition.
It all began in 1974, in the small, east-central North Dakota town of McHenry, when a broken gear held up a hunting trip. Dean Somerville and his friend, Paul Brandt, were ready to go hunting, but Brandt had to fix a broken gear on a piece of farm equipment first. Later, Brandt made the comment that a person could sell a million gear pullers if they had a better design. Somerville, a machinery repair shop operator, went to work and after a couple of years of trial and error, came up with a better design. The new puller, with a metal cage to prevent the puller jaws from slipping off the work surface, making it safer and easier to use, was patented in 1978.
Somerville converted his repair shop into an assembly and distribution facility to keep up with increasing sales. His wife, Peggy, did the accounting work and helped on the assembly line. The business was moved to Cooperstown in 1984 after a fire completely destroyed the building and all of its contents.
Dean and Peggy’s daughter, Tamara, joined the company in 1996 and is responsible for identifying and developing new distributor partnerships and enhancing existing partnerships to increase sales worldwide. Tamara is the primary contact for all international distributors as well as many of Posi Lock’s large domestic partners.
Posi Lock Puller, Inc. has a product line with a variety of pullers that are used in industrial, agricultural, and automotive markets. From the beginning, Posi Lock exported product to Canada. Today, they have distribution networks in every country of the world.
While their products are shipped world-wide, all of the pullers are made in the U.S., with most of the outsourcing needs handled within a 200-mile radius of Cooperstown.
“With a team of 35 employees, Posi Lock is an outstanding small business example, demonstrating that a successful exporter can be small and can be located in a rural area. The North Dakota District Office is pleased to be able to recognize them for their accomplishments,” said Jim Stai, SBA’s North Dakota District Director.
Tamara Somerville is one of many top entrepreneurs that are being honored by the SBA in observance of World Trade Month in May 2013 and National Small Business Week, June 17-21, 2013.
Business Exporter of the Year