I am a solid believer in keeping America’s businesses strong and growing— particularly here in Oklahoma.
I founded Trécé, Inc., in Salinas, California, in 1984 and expanded the company there for 18 years. I could have grown my company — which develops, manufactures and sells state-of-the-art insect monitoring and control systems — anywhere in the country. But I moved the company to Oklahoma in 2002 which provides many opportunities for small business growth. Now, 33 years after its founding, Trécé ships Oklahoma-made products to farm-focused distributors in 50 states and more than 60 countries worldwide.
Although we work with others around the world to create new and more effective solutions, Trécé’s main focus remains right here Oklahoma — in Adair and Chelsea — where we continue to improve our operations through investments in people, research, development and manufacturing.
That need to protect crops — the need which fuels our business — can be even more critical in developing countries, where jobs, livelihoods and economies often are more dependent on agriculture.
Sometimes, in fact, an infestation may carry such severe potential economic consequences in a developing nation that our own government steps in to help. And while it’s true that some people have mixed feelings about international development aid — for example, the kind of financial aid provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development — those people may not see the whole picture.
We at Trécé can attest to that. Here is how it worked in one of our cases.
One of the invasive pests our company targets — the brown marmorated stink bug — is posing a major threat to the economic well-being of hazelnut farmers in the nation of Georgia. According to one study, that infestation had the potential in 2016 to cut more than $60 million from the value of hazelnut exports and income to 40,000 smallholder Georgian farmers. This also is exactly the sort of problem that USAID targets.
The bottom line is that international development aid does not flow in just one direction — it often benefits people on both sides of the equation. In this case, a single development project is saving critical crops and helping thousands of smallholder farmers in Georgia, while providing significant returns that benefit local communities right here in Oklahoma.
When we work to bolster economic opportunity for others around the world, we can simultaneously advance our own nation’s economic goals, because doing good is just good business.
And that leaves everyone with a good feeling all around.
Bill Lingren, a graduate of Oklahoma State University, is the founder and CEO of Adair-based Trécé, Inc., which manufactures and markets insect pheromone and kairomone-based products.