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Schmitt tours Cap America

From left, Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt, Cap America Vice President of Production Tom Gillespie and President Mark Gammon discuss the process of making weaved-in designs on sock caps Monday as they saw one of the largest operations of that process in the country at Cap America.

Victoria Kemper, Democrat News

Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt visited Cap America Monday to tour the facility which has benefited from his Missouri FIRST (Financing Investment in our Rural, Small Business and Technology communities) initiative. 

Schmitt said the initiative is meant to help small businesses and agricultural operations grow and expand.

"We spent the first year in office going around listening to small business owners and a lot of banks," Schmitt said. "We work with banks and they extend the loans to the small businesses, and they get about a 30 percent discount on the interest they would pay."

Schmitt said the state has a $4 billion investment portfolio, and it is trying to use a greater portion of that in main street Missouri. 

"It is a personal call from our office," Schmitt said. "We have a lot of capacity with a little more that $700 million worth of that portfolio that can be used for those low interest loans and we are way below that and we want to increase it so we are doing as much as we can to get the word out so we can work with places like Cap America."

Schmitt said they have made the process a lot easier for businesses and have cut a lot of the burdensome regulations. He said not only is it easier for businesses to apply, but it is easier to renew and the loans can now be extended as well.

"It used to be, if you got a loan that was it. You couldn't do it again, but now you can," Schmitt said. "Part of the reason we have seen an uptick since we launch Missouri FIRST is there is businesses that have expanded and that want to do it again. There was a prohibition for no good reason. So we lifted that with the hopes that it would be more accessible to people."

“We appreciate the program. We really do," Cap America President Mark D. Gammon said. "We are in a fortunate space here, but it gave us a great option to extend stuff and to refinance some things.”

Gammon said Cap America employees 270 people.

"We've grown a bunch," Gammon said. "We have quadrupled in size in the last ten years. We are on a roll here in Fredericktown."

"We are growing which is great," Gammon said. "It's a fun market. It is growing exponentially. We just have to keep up."

He said Cap America is set to do $40 million in head wear this year and is the largest in terms of decoration in house with its orders being shipped within three days. 

"We are way ahead of the curve," Gammon said. "However it is a billion dollar industry, so there is still a lot of market share out there that we do not have."

"We had a USA made business here for around thirty years and one of the reasons we had to get rid of that was because we couldn't find people to work on sewing machines," Gammon said. "We had about a million dollars worth of business, but we couldn't feed it."

Gammon said First State Community Bank is terrific and Cap America likes to stay local when it can and it feels fortunate to have a bank locally that will bring these opportunities to its attention. 

“This is great, I think this is the kind of stuff that gives you a lot of optimism about where we are heading as a state," Schmitt said. "It is a private business that’s expanding and excelling in their market and that’s really great and the fact that they are looking to hire people is a good thing. We are excited about getting out and highlighting businesses that are subscribing to this Missouri FIRST program and since we have launched it there have been over 16 million dollars in loans extended so there’s a lot of interest."

Schmitt said the program is a win win situation with tax payers still getting a return on the loan but businesses getting a discounted rate as well.

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at


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