Leaders in Small Business Administration lending in the North Bay

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SBA and North Bay wildfire recovery

Read accounts of North Bay small-business owners who are working to get back on their feet after the October wildfires.

Here are some of the professionals in the North Bay and beyond who help arrange U.S. Small Business Administration loans. The information is provided by the subjects and they listed alphabetically by last name.

Andrew Chambers

Vice President, SBL Loan Officer
Poppy Bank
438 First Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Year you assumed your position: 2016

Significant news at your company in the past year?

Our significant news in the past year includes rebranding as Poppy Bank (formerly known as “First Community Bank”), opening two new branches (Windsor and Menlo Park), naming Khalid Acheckzai as our new CEO, becoming California’s largest USDA lender, and becoming a nationwide SBA and USDA lender.

How much SBA activity you’ve handled as a result of the October fires?

The SBA provides disaster loans directly, so we didn’t deal with any of those requests. Some of our clients lost their businesses and collateral and we are working with insurers to make them whole and get their business back on track as quickly as possible.

The majority of the fire-related activity is happening on the residential construction lending side of the bank, where we are very active in the rebuilding effort.

What small businesses don’t know, but should about SBA loans?

Some small business owners may not be aware of the advantages that SBA loans offer over traditional bank lending, which include higher loan-to-values, financing of special purpose property types, non-real estate secured lending, ability to mitigate some adverse credit issues, and projection based lending.

Some may have the perception that SBA loans involve a more difficult and lengthy process than traditional bank loans, which tends to be an old myth in the marketplace in my opinion. Typical turn times are very similar.

Biggest challenge in the industry you’ve encountered?

The biggest challenge now is probably competition. Many banks now understand the value that SBA lending provides to their clients, and have entered the market with SBA offerings. It’s a great time to be a small business owner!

Jeff Clark

Industry Expert
Live Oak Bank Wine & Craft Beverage Group
100 B Street Suite 100 Santa Rosa CA 95401

Year you assumed your position: 2014

Significant news at your company in the past year?

Achieved honors as the top SBA lender to wineries and vineyards for the third consecutive year and the top SBA lender for breweries and distilleries for the second consecutive year*.

We continue to grow our team as well as add additional banking products and services.

*Based on 2015-2017 SBA data acquired via FOIA requests.

How much SBA activity you’ve handled as a result of the October fires?

Fortunately, very little. What we have encountered is loss of wine inventory and loss of revenues due to business interruption.

What small businesses don’t know, but should about SBA loans?

The SBA guaranty program allows small wineries and vineyards that lack collateral or a sufficient down payment the ability to grow.

This means you don’t have to dilute equity with new partners and give away future profits. The SBA can step in two to three years before a borrower meets conventional lender criteria.

SBA and North Bay wildfire recovery

Read accounts of North Bay small-business owners who are working to get back on their feet after the October wildfires.

The process is no more complicated than a conventional bank loan, if you have the right lender.

Biggest challenge in the industry you’ve encountered?

The craft beverage consumer has more beverage choices today than maybe in any time in history. Creating a successful beverage brand with a loyal consumer base has never been more challenging.

To succeed requires a great product that is in demand while selling that product in a timely fashion with healthy margins. The cost to produce, distribute and sell that wonderful elixir continues to rise.

Jason Ehn

SBA Lending Manager
Redwood Credit Union
3033 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa

Year you assumed your position:2008

Significant news at your company in the past year?

Based on our 2017 results, RCU has been named the 2nd healthiest credit union in the nation, among over 5,600 credit unions, by Glatt Consulting.

Glatt’s criteria to determine credit union health includes 17 performance measurements, including capital adequacy, asset quality, earnings, asset/liability management, productivity, and growth. RCU is the only credit union in the nation to be named among the top five for the last four years.

RCU also helped our members, employees, and communities following the October wildfires.

We offered numerous support services for employees who lost homes or were evacuated, special loan and financial relief programs for impacted members, and collected donations to assist fire victims through the North Bay Fire Relief Fund—which was created in partnership with The Press Democrat and Senator Mike McGuire immediately after the fires started in October.

In the four months following the fires, the fund collected and distributed more than $32 million dollars to fire survivors in the four impacted counties of Sonoma, Marin, Mendocino, and Lake.

How much SBA activity you’ve handled as a result of the October fires?

SBA disaster loans are administered directly by the SBA, so RCU has not seen SBA activity as a direct result of the fires. However, business lending activity in general and SBA lending specifically, have certainly increased since the fires.

This is especially apparent starting in the first quarter of 2018. We’re seeing many local businesses growing and prospering, and for some that are helping with recovery and rebuilding efforts (such as contractors and trucking companies) this has been a direct result of the fires.

What small businesses don’t know, but should about SBA loans?

SBA lending programs are not just for companies in the start-up phase, and are certainly conducive to helping established small businesses grow and prosper.

There may be a little more paperwork required for an SBA loan, but the financial information required from the business is not much different from a non-SBA loan—and approval and funding timelines are similar to those of conventional loan programs.

SBA Preferred Lenders, like RCU, can approve many loan requests in two to four weeks. The experienced SBA lenders at RCU actively help business owners prepare the required documents.

Terms may also be beneficial depending on the SBA program utilized and the use of the loan proceeds.

It’s also important to note the SBA does not allow small businesses to be charged an application fee or bank management fee.

They also place limits on how much interest can be charged by lenders to the small business borrower.

There are loan guarantee fees (typically 2 to 3.5% of the guaranteed portion of an SBA loan) but the fees can be financed over the term of the loan and allow the financial institution to extend longer terms.

Even after paying the fees, the loan can provide greater benefit than many other types of financing, such as credit cards, personal loans or factoring.

Biggest challenge in the industry you’ve encountered?

Some business owners may have misconceptions about SBA loans (I mentioned a few above) that mislead them into believing SBA loan programs may not be for them, before they even explore the options.

We love helping business owners succeed, and oftentimes the best vehicle to do so is an SBA loan.

So we encourage business owners to share their story so we can better understand their short- and long-term needs, and help them identify the loan options that best fit their unique goals.

Casey Grafeld

Senior Relationship Manager, Vice President
Commercial Banking
Bank of America Merrill Lynch | Bank of America, N.A.
1000 Fourth Street, Suite 200
San Rafael, CA 94901

Year you assumed your position: 2016; two years with Bank of America

Joe N. Smith

Senior Vice President, SBA Manager
Exchange Bank
444 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa CA 95403

Year you assumed your position: 2016

Significant news at your company in the past year?

Exchange Bank has invested significant resources into its SBA efforts in recent years.

As a 128-year-old community bank that only lends in the Greater Bay area, Exchange Bank believes in investing in the people, businesses and communities we serve to create a better future for generations to come.

In 2017, Exchange Bank was ranked the third largest SBA 7a lender in Sonoma County and the top ranked local Bank.

We also ranked sixth largest 7a lender in the San Francisco District, which is impressive for a Santa Rosa-based community bank. Needless to say, Exchange Bank is proud to be a leader in SBA lending.

How much SBA activity have you handled as a result of the October fires?

Immediately following the October fires, Exchange Bank reached out to local business customers to ascertain which businesses and/or residences had been damaged or lost.

Many businesses suffered financially, regardless of whether or not they sustained physical damage.

While the SBA Disaster Loan Program provided assistance to many of the affected businesses, Exchange Bank made accommodations for existing SBA businesses to get them immediate help. The bank supplied emergency loans to EB clients and expedited business loans to all of our affected businesses customers.

What small businesses don’t know, but should about SBA loans?

Exchange Bank utilizes all aspects of the SBA program.

The program allows for start-up, projection based loans, business acquisition, building purchase or construction, tenant improvements, working capital, unsecured business loans and lines of credit.

Exchange Bank is active in all of these lending categories.

The SBA Loan Program allows for a bank to pair its most aggressive credit terms with the extended structures enabled via the SBA program. Equity injections can be as low as 10% as well.

For example, SBA offers 10-year fully amortizing loans for equipment, working capital or business purchases.

For loans with real estate, 25-year loans are the norm. These extended terms with no balloon payments and reduced money in upfront, allow business owners the flexibility that can make the difference between being approved for a loan or not.

Joel Carey

Senior Vice President - SBA Sales Manager
Umpqua Bank
503-906-4459 Office

Dan Eger

Vice President, SBA Business Development Officer
Umpqua Bank

Year you assumed your position: 2016

Susan Jensen

Vice President, SBA Business Development Officer
Umpqua Bank

Year assumed position: 2007

Matthew Lehman

Vice President, SBA Business Development Officer
Umpqua Bank

Year assumed position: 2017

Significant news at your company in the past year? In 2017, we continued to see growth of Umpqua Bank’s SBA bookings, a trend continuing into the first quarter of 2018. Umpqua Bank added a new SBA Business Development Officer to serve the North Bay Market and continued to refine our Loan Underwriting and Processing to streamline the process, improve turnaround and enhance the borrower experience.

Umpqua Bank looks forward to adding several more SBA Business Development officers to support an expansion of the SBA-504 program and Small 7a loans ($10,000 to $250,000). Our Small 7a loans are accessed via the Umpqua Bank web site and offer streamlined processing.

What small businesses don’t know, but should about SBA loans?

The SBA process is becoming much more streamlined and efficient for our borrowers at Umpqua Bank. In most cases, we have local business development officers who meet and actively work with the borrowers on selecting the right type of SBA 7a, 504 or USDA loan to fit their needs. In addition, we partner with our Umpqua Bank Relationship Managers in the Small Business, Business Banking or Commercial Banking Departments to provide financial solutions for the company’s other banking needs.

Biggest challenge in the industry you’ve encountered?

Our limited store (branch) exposure in SBA markets can make it challenging to maximize banking relationship solutions for our SBA borrowers. This year, we’re teaming up with our Treasury Management Officers to develop remote and automated solutions, which will help in this regard. These solutions will enable us to provide a comprehensive array of financial services to address the personalized needs of our customers.

Other Bay Area Lenders

Anna O’Brien

Senior Vice President, Business Development
TMC Financing
1720 Broadway, Oakland, CA

Year you assumed your position: 2012

Significant news at your company in the past year?

Each year, TMC Financing surveys our small business clients in California and Nevada to get a pulse on their outlook and predictions for the coming year.

According to the 400+ small business owners who participated in the survey, the outlook is overall optimistic and positive. We were excited to learn that over half of our clients plan to hire new employees in 2018.

It’s terrific to see that borrowers who have settled into their buildings and funded their loans are continuing to grow and expand their staff.

In fact, fifty-three percent of respondents anticipate hiring additional employees in 2018, an approximate 20 percent increase from last year!

In fiscal year 2017, TMC Financing provided $274 million in SBA 504 financing to 247 small business owners across California and Nevada. TMC borrowers from the past year plan to create or retain a total of 2,597 jobs.

What small businesses don’t know, but should about SBA loans?

Business owners can now access equity trapped in commercial real estate holdings by refinancing conventional real estate loans with TMC’s SBA 504 refinance loan.

The SBA 504 program offers business owners the opportunity to secure below-market, fixed interest rates, amortized over 20 years, for up to 90 percent of the appraised value of commercial real estate property.

Owners can take cash out for qualified business expenses, which include salaries, rent, utilities, inventory or other obligations of the business.

In addition, SBA 504 loans benefit business owners by combining a low down payment with long-term, below-market interest rates. Adding energy efficient upgrades when you buy, build or renovate a building, can dramatically lower your occupancy costs.

Under the SBA energy-efficiency program, there is no limit to the size of projects and business owners can exceed the traditional project limit using the SBA 504 program.

A business may borrow up $16.5 million from the SBA, with a $5.5 million per project maximum.

Biggest challenge in the industry you’ve encountered?

The biggest challenge in the industry I have encountered is helping to debunk myths about the 504 loan program.

Many small business owners believe that their business is “too small” to qualify.

Many are surprised to find out how “BIG” a “small business” can be!

Most privately held, for-profit businesses qualify, and larger businesses often qualify for multiple loans.

It is important to educate our clients, and show them that TMC’s process is easy and streamlined, and we have experts that can help them through the loan process.

Bob Thompson

Vice President and Loan Officer
Bay Area Development Company
1801 Oakland Blvd., Suite 100, Walnut Creek, CA 94596
(925) 926-1020

Year you assumed your position: 1995

Significant news at your company in the past year?

The addition of Rich Grant as a loan officer for the “west bay” (S.F. south to Monterey) and the permanent reintroduction of refinancing non-government guaranteed debt to the SBA 504 loan program.

Also, the introduction of a 25 year 504 loan term, which should help to qualify even more applicants due to the ability to reduce debt service requirements via a longer loan term.

How much SBA activity you’ve handled as a result of the October fires?

To date, we have not received much activity stemming directly from the tragic October fires.

That being said, we do expect that the subsequent rebuilding to take place will have a positive impact on those industries which support that endeavor (construction, furnishings, home appliances, landscaping, auto, etc.).

We remain poised to assist these and all other industries throughout the area who have been impacted by the fires.

What small businesses don’t know, but should about SBA loans?

Small businesses should know that SBA loans are readily available and have competitive loan terms as compared to their conventional counterparts.

Additionally, these SBA loans can be obtained with little additional effort over competing conventional products.

The analysis and information required is not extensively greater than that of a conventional loan, especially for lenders with significant experience in the SBA arena such as Bay Area Development Company.

Biggest challenge in the industry you’ve encountered?

Working remotely with the Federal Government (U.S. Small Business Administration) is always a challenge and puts a premium on having and maintaining a strong understanding of SBA’s Standard Operating Procedures and preparing a complete, but concise, loan guarantee application that can be reviewed quickly and with a strong likelihood of approval.

A lack of inventory for commercial real estate is also a challenge, though that it true for SBA and non SBA loans, alike.

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