Pretty and profitable: Iredale Mineral Cosmetics has international economic outlook


Photo Gallery | Congressman Neal tours Iredale Mineral Cosmetics

GREAT BARRINGTON — Iredale Mineral Cosmetics may have Berkshire roots, but it's a company with an international outlook.

Thirty percent of the firm's current revenue comes through products that Iredale Mineral Cosmetics exports to 52 different countries through 32 separate distributors, according to CFO Robert Montgomery.

"That's up from about 20 percent eight years ago," Montgomery said.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal got a first-hand look at Iredale's current operations when he toured the cosmetic firm's three-building complex in the center of Great Barrington.

"It's a great economic story; a great international story," said Neal, who has been to Iredale's complex before. "It's also a great testament to entrepreneurship. They have customers around the globe. Their investment in Great Barrington is a real economic boost."

Iredale moved into its current headquarters, the 127-year-old former Bryant School building on Bridge Street, in December 2014 after an extensive renovation. The architect who oversaw that project, Robert Silman of Great Barrington, received the Louise duPont Crowninshield Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation last November for his dedication to historic preservation over a 50-year career. It was the first school building to be constructed in the Adirondack style, said president and founder Jane Iredale.

Iredale also maintains a warehouse behind its headquarters building, and a smaller third structure that houses the firm's burgeoning e-commerce business. Of Iredale's 180 total employees, 100 are based in Great Barrington, Montgomery said. Iredale operates a second warehouse in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The firm's local presence overshadows its international operations. Earlier this year, Iredale Mineral Cosmetics received the President's "E" Award, the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

"We were really proud of it because we've had an international effort since 2000," Montgomery said. "During that period of time being a global company has become much more important augmented with the Internet and people traveling and everything else.

"It's nice to have our brand in so many different venues and countries around the world," he said. "It helps to reinforce the strength of the brand."

In 2015, Massachusetts businesses exported $25.2 billion in goods and services, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Exports are a very critical component of the Berkshire economy," Neal said. "One of the challenges in the atmosphere of e-commerce in which we live is how to stay relevant. That means you're competing on quality and price in a globalized economy. I don't think people should be afraid of it."

Iredale's two biggest international trading partners are Canada and the United Kingdom. The UK recently voted to leave the European Union, but Iredale so far has not been affected by that historic yet unexpected decision, commonly known as Brexit.

"It's a little to early to say," Montgomery said. "We've seen no cancellation or reduction in orders so far. In fact, we sent out a big order right after the vote went in the direction that nobody expected."

Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413-496-6224.


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