Marco Moran has been an entrepreneur since childhood.
He grew up in Columbia, La., a small town south of Monroe. As a child, his family was poor and on welfare, which he says was common in Columbia.
"I wanted more in life, and ... the only options I had, being a poor, young African American kid in a small town, was to get out and create revenue opportunities," he says.
On the way to school, he would buy gum and candy in bulk from the grocery store and resell it to kids at a markup. In the fall, he would rake people's yards for money.
"I was in wholesale and retail since elementary school," he jokes.
Moran studied pre-pharmacy at Louisiana State University from 1991 to 1993, and then transferred to the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where he received his pharmacy degree in 1996 and his post-graduate degree in pharmacy and business in 2003. He moved to Vicksburg in 2005 to run the pharmacy at River Region Hospital.
He then worked at Baptist Hospital in Jackson from 2007 to 2008. While there, he developed his herbal-based drink called Lean Slow Motion Potion to deter teenagers from abusing cough syrup, but he didn't want to just have his own product line; he wanted to have an international company that sold many brands and products. In 2009, he decided to break off from Baptist and founded Dewmar International Brand Management Company. Some of the brands and products it represents include the U.S. Hemp Corporation, Yellow Jacket—which makes an iPhone case that doubles as a phone protector, charger and a stun gun—Big O's Louisiana Homemade Tartar Sauce and Pharmacist Made-brand back-pain patches.
Moran says that Dewmar represents small businesses and products that are mostly minority-, women- or veteran-owned.
"A lot of people, particularly small business people, have great ideas, but it's very difficult for them to get market placement," he says. His company charges clients a small percentage of sales that the company helps them generate.
On supporting small businesses, including ones that are minority-, women- and veteran-owned, Moran says: "Small businesses are the lifeline of the U.S. economy. ... And then those small businesses are the ones that keep people employed longer. ... Secondly, the reason why minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses and veteran-owned businesses are very important is that those businesses are the ones that are leaders in innovation. Major corporations typically don't create innovative products. It's typically someone that wakes up and has a great idea, and it might take them a few years to get it to fruition. That's what creates the real innovation in America. Long term, major corporations might buy them out, and you might think that that's where it generated, but for the most part, minority-owned companies and smaller companies are the ones that create a significant amount of innovation in the U.S."
Moran serves as chairman of the Mississippi District Export Council, which a press release says is "a regional organization of leaders from the international business community which assist and enhance opportunities to export Mississippi goods and services."
Recently, Moran became a member of the White House Business Council. In his position there, he says he takes about four to six conference-calls per month, or face-to-face meetings at the White House about every six to eight weeks, to talk with other members on topics such as health care, job creation and national issues such as the Zika virus, as well as policies that affect business and trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
"The White House picks our brains because they're not doing business day in day out," Moran says. "There may be some things that they overlook that the business owners may, particularly small business owners, may care about that affect business."
On being a Mississippi business owner represented on the council, he says: "I'm honored to be on the business council. I think it's a positive for Mississippi to give a view or perspective from the state."
Moran says he occasionally gets to invite other Mississippi business owners to attend council meetings. For example, when the council was discussing opening up trade to Cuba, Moran could not attend, so he invited agriculture business Biosoil to go in his place.
"The ultimate goal is to increase the (gross domestic product) and revenue for Mississippi businesses by my being involved with the White House Business Council," he says.
As part of MDEC and the business council, one of his focuses is on international trade.
"Ninety percent of the money spent in the world is outside of the U.S. If Mississippi businesses can generate revenue that comes from outside the U.S., that's bringing in new money to the residents and citizens of Mississippi. That's the best money to have as opposed to us spending so much money on products that are bought and made in China. It's like sending your money overseas, so we have to reverse that trend, and it helps create jobs in Mississippi as well and increases longevity of existing jobs with Mississippi companies, so it's a win-win for everyone."
Moran wants other small businesses to reach out to MDEC to learn how to expand their businesses—along with help from the Mississippi Development Authority and Moran in conjunction with the White House Business Council.
"There are a number of resources that the state of Mississippi and the federal government offers to small businesses to help them grow that the average business owner does not know about," Moran says. "I know I didn't know about a lot of these opportunities a couple of years ago."
For more information on Dewmar, visit dewmarinternational.com.