For more than 40 years, Cabot Hosiery Mills has been a small business textile manufacturer based in Northfield, Vermont. In 2004, the company began making socks under the brand of Darn Tough Vermont, focused on environmentally friendly production and backed by a lifetime guarantee.
Three generations of the Cabot family have remained committed to producing comfortable, durable, well-fitting, and sustainably sourced socks that are “Still Made in Vermont, USA.” With EXIM support, Darn Tough — a 2021 EXIM Exporter of the Year — is well on its way to achieving its goals of worldwide brand recognition and substantial growth in international markets.
“Without EXIM Bank, I’m not sure that I’d be standing here right now because we would not feel comfortable sending our product around the world without its coverage, so it has really opened up the world for us,” said Joe Nocito, International Sales Manager for Darn Tough.
Joe Nocito and Angelica Taylor of Darn Tough Vermont discuss their experience exporting with EXIM support. You also can view the company's story here.
Solving Credit Challenges to Build a Global Brand
When the strategic decision was made to expand and create a global brand in markets outside the United States, Darn Tough needed a trusted partner who could offset the risk of not getting paid by international customers. That’s where EXIM’s Export Credit Insurance came into play.
Partnering with EXIM since 2017, Darn Tough has expanded international sales from fewer than five countries to more than 25 countries worldwide, as Nocito explained in this podcast with Entrepreneur. The company was able to offer credit terms rather than requiring customers to pay cash in advance, which allowed it to focus on customer experience and sales strategy. EXIM has supported more than $24.1 million in export sales for the family-owned company. The company’s policies are facilitated by EXIM broker Meridian Finance Group.
EXIM helped the small business solve credit challenges by providing peace of mind at a low cost with a high value, said Angelica Taylor, Chief Operations Officer for Darn Tough.
“EXIM support really helps us foster relationships with our international customers by providing credit terms right up front,” Taylor said. “They do the credit check, they do everything behind the scenes, and we know when we send them that invoice, we're going to get paid.”
Supporting the Local Community
During the pandemic, exporting allowed Darn Tough to not only maintain sales, but grow revenues, since it could ship products according to where markets were open, Nocito said. At the same time, the company underscored its commitment to the local community by increasing donations to the Vermont Foodbank. Since then, it has introduced a series of socks that will give all proceeds to the food bank — and so far has donated more than one million meals.
Darn Tough also has taken steps internally to underscore its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, including conducting internal and external audits of bias across its operations to ensure pay equity, promote diverse hiring practices, and create an inclusive culture.
Whether building relationships with the local community or its international buyers, Darn Tough has found success producing American-made socks.
“For us, we're super fortunate. The future is bright. Our international sales are growing by 40 or 50 percent each year right now, and that's a really great feeling,” said Nocito “I'd like to say that EXIM Bank has been our secret sauce. It's the sharpest tool in our shed with regard to export.”schedule a free consultation with a trade finance specialist today.