BY MELANIE BUCK –
Congressman Bruce Westerman visited Mena on Thursday, May 5, 2016 where he toured local businesses and had coffee with constituents, before heading to the Queen and joining a Travel & Tourism event. Westerman was elected as Congressman to the Fourth District in 2014.
His first stop brought him to Montco’s Repops Manufacture facility where owners Jeff and Clint Montgomery gave him a tour and explained how they began and what they do. In 1997, the owner of a local Chevy parts distributing business suddenly passed and left his widow struggling with the day-to-day running of the operation. The company distributed approximately one thousand after-market Chevy truck replacement parts. Adding insult to injury, the company’s main manufacturer, then decided to take advantage of the sudden death and launched its own competitive business and began distributing the same parts they had once supplied to the Mena company. Clint’s father, Jeff, being a friend of the family, offered a solution. Jeff called Clint and explained the situation. They ultimately decided to try their hand at the manufacturing business. “We just jumped in, knocked out some walls in the storage units and started to work manufacturing the 340 parts that that company was responsible for absconding with,” and thus, Montco, Mfg. was born.
Clint explained that the after-market business is a multi-billion dollar industry and it took him a couple of years to find his niche and turn the fledgling business around. He did it by going straight to the distributors and selling the exact same parts they had already been buying but agreeing to put their own label on it. The idea soared and within just a couple of years, he began to chip away at the market, eventually acquiring Repops, one of the top-ten restoration parts manufacturers. They have since grown the company to include many lines of parts and an expanded customer base. Westerman said of the growth from such humble beginnings as the ‘story of America.’
Following the tour of Repops, Westerman held ‘Coffee with your Congressman’ at the 4-H Education Center. Several were in attendance to hear Westerman’s latest actions in Washington D.C. and what he plans to work on in the coming legislative sessions. Several questions were asked by the audience, all of which Westerman answered with top-rate knowledge. For those topics he was less versed in, he took notes and phone numbers and promised to learn more soon.
“The government is most effective on the local level. This is a very important part of the Fourth District and I like to get out and meet with my constituents and find out what’s on their mind,” said Westerman. He also talked about the demand for jobs and why he likes to tour and visit with industry leaders and business owners, “We need to have more jobs available and more people working so I want to meet with job creators and see what it is they need to be more effective.”
Westerman also attended an event that recognized National Travel and Tourism Week at the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge. Local business owners and members of the Chamber of Commerce attended the event where Westerman spoke about the importance of tourism in the state of Arkansas, being the second largest industry in the state.