From start-up to expansion, products for every stage
Andrew Green had an idea.
The St. Francisville native believed he could translate his personal passion for the outdoors into a kayak rental business. In late 2014, he launched Bayou Sara Kayak Company, renting a small fleet of kayaks to the growing number of visitors drawn to West Feliciana Parish’s natural beauty and burgeoning eco-tourism potential.
Initially, Andrew used his personal income as a bartender at The Magnolia Café to fund and slowly expand his new business. He bought additional kayaks as soon as he’d saved enough cash. He also began outfitting the fleet with basic fishing rigs and taking clients on guided tours of Bayou Sara and into the Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge. Thanks to a robust social media strategy and lots of satisfied customers, business grew. Two years after opening, Andrew recognized it was time to scale things up.
“My first boats were super basic and there was only so much I could do with them,” Andrew recalls. “But I knew I was on to something and it was time to expand and improve my equipment.”
Working with Bank of St. Francisville (BSF), Andrew secured a line of credit that helped him purchase 15 new single man kayaks also rigged for fishing. The new boats gave him the ability to offer a range of experiences, including guided or non-guided tours for anglers, birders and paddlers.
“I was amazed at how good the rates were and how affordable it was to borrow,” Andrew said. “It’s helped me reach new customers of different ages and interests.”
Across the U.S., small businesses employ nearly 57 million people – a whopping 48% of the private workforce.
“Small businesses are the heart, soul and creative spirit of any community,” says BSF President Carter Leak IV. “We believe it’s in all our best interests to help them thrive.”
BSF fosters small business success through a variety of financial products designed to fit the evolving needs of commercial borrowers, including different types of lines of credit that can supply needed operating capital and keep a business owner from overloading their personal credit cards. Other lending vehicles include equipment, agricultural, and commercial real estate loans. The bank’s commercial lending team helps customers identify the right lending package to fit their needs.
For example, LITE Technologies founder Jeff Denham worked with BSF to first secure a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan to launch his amphibious track vehicle manufacturing company in 2011. LITE Technology’s low-impact Marsh Tracker vehicles are used worldwide by natural resource agencies and exploration companies to reach wet, marshy areas. In 2014, Jeff also opened a line of credit to finance the capital-intensive manufacturing process, paying down the line as orders for vehicles are filled.
“Marsh Trackers are very expensive items to build,” says Jeff. “A lot of time, materials and overhead goes into each one, so having that line of credit makes a big difference, especially if you have delays or setbacks.”
“A line of credit is a flexible, low-cost lending option for any small business, no matter its size,” notes Tab Ballard, BSF’s Assistant Vice President for Commercial Lending. “It’s been a great way for us to partner with Andrew and Jeff to help them grow and become even more successful. “
BSF has also helped commercial customers expand their capacity through real estate loans, says Melvin Harvey, Jr., Vice President for Commercial Lending.
“Many businesses find themselves at the point where the logical next step is to expand or improve physically,” says Melvin. “We can help structure a commercial real estate loan that will help them reach that next level of growth.”
Red Stick Armature Works is a great example. Several years ago, the then-Baton Rouge-based company was looking for a larger site for its electric motor repair and service shop. BSF had previously acquired a three-acre site in foreclosure that was perfectly suited for the expanding industrial facility.
“That started our relationship with the bank,” says Red Stick Armature President and Chief Operating Officer Carick “Joe” Howard, part of the third generation to run the family business. “We’ve also worked with BSF to acquire loans to purchase two additional acres on this site, and to build it out entirely. It now includes 5 additional buildings.”
The expansion has helped Red Stick Armature see an eight-fold increase in the number of employees and annual sales, says Joe.
“In this business, space is definitely key,” he says. “You have to have the right infrastructure to operate and to fulfill the needs of your customers.”
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Products to consider:
Lines of Credit
Real Estate Loans