Small Business Stories from the COVID crisis

When Community Matters Most: How Bank of St. Francisville helped during COVID-19

When the U.S. Small Business Administration rolled out the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in response to the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic, Bank of St. Francisville helped administer funding to support a total of 197 small businesses, which helped 1,469 employees keep their jobs.

Even community leaders outside of BSF stepped up to help process as many PPP applications as possible. Ranee Rogers Voorhies, President of the West Feliciana Chamber of Commerce; and Lauren Field, Executive Director of the St. Francisville Area Foundation, temporarily joined the bank's team to help guide customers through the application process. "We were looking at creative ways to help ALL potential customers," says BSF President and CEO Carter Leak IV. "Ranee and Lauren, who were both small business owners themselves, jumped in to help our community in a time of crisis."

We asked the owners of those businesses to share feedback on their experience working with BSF. Their testimonials blew us away because they show why having a community bank relationship really matters.

No Response From the Big Bank
"Bank of St. Francisville was awesome! I was so impressed by the service we received when applying for the PPP loan. I am not a usual business customer, but BSF came through like I was. My usual banker was not helpful, and told us that they needed to wait on direction from their corporate office. We stressed each day on how we were going to continue to pay our employees with the significant cut in service that had to be made. Then in the midst of all our problems, I received an email from BSF with detailed instructions and videos on the process. Everything was so simpleI watched the video and went on to complete the application using BSF's concise instructions and easy submission process. Once our application was submitted, the PPP funds were transferred to my bank within days. We were able to continue work with confidence. I can’t thank y’all enough for being professional, timely, and caring. I felt such a strong sense of community support from this bank. Bank of St Francisville, y’all are the best!!"

—Dr. Stacie Nwabueze
Nwabueze Primary Care Clinics

"Our business had been using a larger bank for decades. It was a serious concern when we missed out on the first round of funding, despite having turned in an accurate application on the first day possible. We prepared to apply again for the second round of funding but we were getting vague answers as to whether we could count on them to get the loan processed. 

"At that point, I reached out to Aimee Cook at BSF to discuss other options. When our bank failed to come through on the loan yet again, Aimee took action and secured the loan for us in a matter of minutes. This was after weeks of unsuccessful back and forth with our normal bank. It was a relief for us to be able to put that money back into our business. I would highly recommend BSF."

—Brian Rourke, President  
AAA Rent-All

Superb Service
"I cannot emphasize enough how much Lauren Field, Robert Hanna, and several other competent and patient BSF staff members helped me not pull my hair out while applying for the PPP. I am so impressed with Carter IV and his son staying up all night to send the applications where they needed to go. I have read several articles about other store owners who were not able to apply for PPP because this type of help was not available in their communities. We are so lucky to have a bank here in St. Francisville that is so capable and willing to go out of their way to help our community. I'll never forget your generosity."

—Dahn Savell, Owner
Bohemianville Antiques

"The customer service at BSF was the best me and my wife have experienced anywhere in at least five years. Thank you for everyone's assistance."

—Ryan Eaton

"BSF provided both my clients and me with superb service in obtaining the much-needed PPP loans. They jumped right in as soon as the program was launched; kept communication lines open so we knew the status of the loans, which was a balm in such a stressful time; were attentive to all applications, large and small; and provided assistance where needed to ensure the information was properly packaged. I worked with several of the large national and regional banks on PPP loans and had a much different service experience. I am ever more convinced that community banking is a first choice and BSF has proven its commitment to serving with care and respect. "

—Mary Kay Gerace Carleton, CPA
Carleton and Company CPAs

Dedicated to Service, Wherever You Are
"I am a contract CFO in North Carolina and one of my clients applied pretty late in the process and as a result, most of the banks in the Charlotte area were not taking any more applications.  Through a colleague I found out about BSF and within just a few days my client's application was completed and funding was in process. I was amazed with the speed and ease of the entire process, especially given that we were an out of state company."

—Joe Childress

"I would 100% recommend BSF! I worked with Lauren Field and she was AMAZING! Initially, I began working with another lender who was a friend of a friend. I filled out their application and submitted many documents. I was given the run around. After weeks, that person finally told me that they could not help and recommended I try elsewhere. At that time, the PPP window was about to shut down. My husband advised me to call Lauren Field because she had helped him with some investment properties. Lauren assured me that BSF would do their very best to help…and I believed her. She was caring, answered her phone when I called, and answered all of my questions. I KNOW my questions were probably the same questions she had received from other business owners throughout the entire day, but she made me feel like my questions were important. A few other shout outs for exceptional help goes to Aimee Cook and Jamie White! I appreciate you all! Great job BSF!!! Fantastic job, Lauren!!"

—Laurin Maier, State Farm

"During a time when all our local banks here had stopped accepting PPP Loan applications, you accepted ours and secured our PPP Loan. Your dedicated PPP loan officers were very supportive and provided the help needed to complete the application process. Thank you so very much Ms. Lauren Field and Ms. Jamie White for all your help. We, Hurley’s Dock Management & Construction Company, LLC, cannot thank you enough for your assistance in securing our PPP Loan. It allowed our company to continue operating during these dark times. Thank you for being our light of hope."

—Jo Ann Garcia, President
Hurley’s Dock Management

"After no response from my bank of 35 years, I called the Bank of St. Francisville. I was connected to Svend Waltman and received the best customer service and support I have ever experienced with a lending institution. She walked me through the process and I even received follow-up emails after normal work hours from her. I can not express my gratitude to her and Bank of St. Francisville for assisting me and my company through this ongoing crisis. We are working hard to keep our business of 28+ years going and successful, and we could not do it without your support."

—Victoria Harris, Owner
Design Resources

A Source of Support in a Time of Need
"On behalf of the General Pipe & Industrial Constructors-LA, LLC family, we would like to express our most sincere appreciation to the Bank of St. Francisville PPP Loan Team. You made the application process easy to complete and your wonderful team members (Jamie White, De Ann Hennessy, Leah Dougharty, and Lauren Field) were so very helpful every step of the way. We keep catching ourselves saying ‘Thank you Bank of St. Francisville for securing our PPP loan.’ BSF is a life saver to our company and our employees! The PPP Loan enabled GPIC-LA, LLC to maintain full employment for our core employees while experiencing a sharp reduction in work from our industrial customers. 

"At the larger national bank we originally applied with, we did not even get up to bat, much less a chance to score. We would like to extend a special thank you to Melvin Harvey, who had originally encouraged us to apply through BSF. His words of encouragement during this unsettling time were an invaluable source of solace. The staff at Bank of St. Francisville has been of immeasurable assistance to Todd, Hunter, Brandon, and myself through our years of business with the Bank of St Francisville. BSF has always been there when we needed assistance the most.”

—Harrison V. Farrar, PE
CEO & Chief Engineer
General Pipe & Industrial Constructors 

"BSF was amazing at helping me apply for and secure my PPP loan. When no other bank seemed to want to take the time to help me, Conville Lemoine and Aimee Cook at Bank of St. Francisville not only took the time to walk me through the process and answer my questions, but also directed me so that we were able to submit all documents and actually receive my PPP loan within five days! I can’t thank them enough and have referred friends and colleagues to them. Without them, I’m certain I still would not have the loan."

—Ryan Howison, President
OnCourse Wealth Management

"Bank of St Francisville made it very easy for me to apply for a PPP loan for my business. My loan was handled very professionally and timely."

—Steve Tonore, Owner
Steve Tonore & Associates, LLC

"Everyone at the bank was so accommodating. My personal bank would not help me with the PPP loan because they were at their capacity of loans during the pandemic. This was a little disheartening, truth be told. It definitely showed me the kind of bank that Bank of St. Francisville is. Their customer service was top notch in times of need. I plan on switching banks and making BSF MY bank. I am forever grateful that you stood up to help people in need. It was the right thing to do during the pandemic. This truly exemplifies a banking institution that I want to be a part of. ”

—Lisa Prescott
Mary Kay Sales Director

Making the Application Process Painless
"Bank of St. Francisville has been the most helpful bank to our very small business needing a PPP loan. We are located in Baton Rouge and our very large bank was not helpful. We are rethinking where we bank and hope a branch of BSF is coming to BR! Thank you, BSF!"

—Claire Wilson

"I will say the BSF staff was great with the PPP process. You all could not have made it any easier. Thanks again!"

—Kehvin Haydel, Owner
Cajun Cupboards

"The folks at BSF really stepped up when we needed help getting our loan request processed. We had reached an impasse with our normal bank. Aimee Cook took our information and had the loan processed in one day. A pleasure doing business with BSF."

—Glenn Rivette, General Manager
Baton Rouge Machine Works, LLC

"Lauren Field was awesome!"

—Dr. Penny Serio
St. Francisville Animal Hospital

"Thank you for all of your help and kind assistance in helping our small business apply and receive PPP funding! The experience from the first phone call, to the online video, to the application and receiving the funds was seamless! Everyone did exactly as they said and in the timeframe they said it would be done. Those qualities are rare to come by these days and BSF did this as if it is their true nature. I can’t express how grateful I am to have had such a pleasant and stress-free experience!!!"

—Bonita Wood, Co-Owner
Wizard Race Cars

"Through the use of their spreadsheets, BSF greatly simplified applying for PPP. From start to finish, the process was very efficient and user friendly. I highly recommend their services."

—Anthony Amy

Further Reading