Growing a small business through persistence and smart financing
Nearly 20 years ago, I earned my commercial driver's license and began what I thought would be a short-term job. Little did I know that a lifelong career at the helm of a national transportation company was waiting for me just a few years down the road.
In 2007 I received an opportunity to purchase my own commercial vehicle and become an owner-operator. While I had nuts-and-bolts experience and industry knowledge under my belt, ownership was a very different challenge, as most small business owners will attest. But it didn't take long for me to shift from the "employee" mindset and embrace the potential I saw in the business.
In the past 10 years Vysnia Global Transport has grown exponentially. Today, our Elk Grove operations support 21 full-time office staff and a fleet of more than 70 trucks. Despite the early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced us to close our doors temporarily, the business has taken off in a way we could have never expected.
In the past two years our gross revenue has doubled, and we've just completed the purchase and renovation of a commercial property to house our growing team.
Throughout the growth, I've been intentional about building a strong network of business and financial advisers and weighing the costs and benefits of various financing options. In today's economy, entrepreneurs are quick to release equity in favor of avoiding debt, but in my experience, executing on financing options that align with a company's growth objectives is one of the smartest things a business owner can do.
That's part of the reason I've done my business banking through a single financial institution since the very beginning. Bank of America's small business advisers have guided me through the complex financial landscape, learning my business inside and out and recommending the right tools at the right time.
This knowledge changed the trajectory of my business, and it can change yours, too. Here are a few of the financing decisions I've made over the past 15 years, and why they worked.
Conventional term loan
I believe in putting our best foot forward, which is why we rotate the trucks in our fleet frequently. It's an expensive undertaking, and it's not always feasible to pay cash up front before the truck is able to generate revenue.
We've been able to secure multiple, no- or low-down-payment conventional loans that enable us to maintain a current fleet and, when necessary, quickly increase the number of trucks on hand. For example, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when demand for home delivery services was at its peak, we needed additional trucks to meet customer demand, and we were able to accommodate.
SBA 7A loan for owner-occupied commercial real estate
In early 2020, I realized that renting warehouse space was no longer financially responsible, and I decided to purchase a commercial property. I applied for a conventional loan, but my small business adviser instead suggested an SBA 7A loan specifically designed or owner-occupied commercial properties. This year, I closed on a loan for a 250,000-square-foot warehouse in Elk Grove Village, which not only freed up tens of thousands of dollars in cash flow each month, but also gave the business another key asset.
Refinancing equipment loans
Over the years, I've financed some fleet vehicles directly through dealerships. Recently, while doing an audit of the company's outside debt with my banking adviser, I learned I was eligible for a better rate, better terms and current promotions. When I close, my rate will fall roughly three percentage points, and I'll be able to redirect more than $100,000 annually into programs that and add value to our bottom line. It's a good example of the benefit of working with an adviser committed to proactively identifying opportunities for savings and efficiencies.
Paycheck Protection funding
We were fortunate to receive funding through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in 2020. Processed through Bank of America, our PPP loan was instrumental in keeping our team members on staff while stay-at-home orders were in effect across the country. Because of our existing relationship with BofA, the process was seamless, and we received word recently that the loan was forgiven, allowing us to return our attention to our plans for the future.
Aside from financial products, my adviser has helped me find efficiencies I don't always have time to find myself. We recently set up a mobile deposit station in our company office, allowing us to process revenue faster and avoid sending employees to the bank.
Additionally, just this month, we worked with the bank's merchant services team to begin accepting credit and debit payments, a process that integrates seamlessly into our existing workflow.
I'll admit that I'm not always up to date on the latest financing options or small business support and relief measures. I'm busy running a business -- one whose success I could have only dreamed of 20 years ago. That's why I surround myself with advisers who take the time to understand my business and chart a path for growth and success for years to come.
• Paul Vysnia is the owner of Vysnia Global Transport in Elk Grove Village and a longtime customer of Bank of America.