OSB Helps Local Entrepreneur Accomplish Big Goals for His Small Businesses

While Jackson, Michigan entrepreneurs, John and Denise Burtka’s business, Grand River Brewery, may be “small” by the Small Business Administration’s size standards, the impact they have on the local economy is anything but. OSB is proud to have partnered with the Burtka’s to help them grow their businesses, making National Small Business Week the perfect time to learn more about how they have cultivated success here in Southeast Michigan.

OSB: Tell us a little bit about your business and how you got started.

 John Burtka (JB): Grand River Brewery, located in downtown Jackson, Michigan, was opened seven years ago. It serves as a gathering spot and event venue for families, friends, lovers, politicians, and entertainers. Our goal was to be a focal point for urban rebirth in Jackson by creating a modern incarnation of an old Public House. We started with an 85-year-old building that was empty and in a state of disrepair, transforming it to make Grand River Brewery is a truly unique space.

OSB: How does being part of the local business community influence you and your team?

 JB: Our local roots are really the anchors of our businesses and we see our focus on the local community as one of our greatest strengths. For example, Grand River Brewery employs over 58 full-time equivalent employees and seven of them live downtown in Jackson. They really are neighbors serving neighbors.

Plus, we are committed to using Michigan grown ingredients such as the hops in our beers and the grapes for our wines. We use only Michigan grown apples and cherries in our hard ciders. In addition at Grand River Brewery, we recycle our spent grain for bread in our restaurant and also to feed cattle at a local farm; as well as growing our own organic vegetables for our restaurant.

We love being part of our community! We contribute over $2.5 million per year in salaries, taxes, and purchases to the local economy.

OSB: What are you most proud of as a small business owner and what you have been able to accomplish?

JB: Our vision has been to grow our businesses and we have certainly been able to do that, thanks to our team and the support of our community. From a product perspective, our Monkey Mouth IPA also won the North American IPA at the New York International Beer Festival and our dancing Elephant Cider won silver at the world’s largest cider competition. Our wine has also been served at the White House.

OSB: Do you have any advice for other small business leaders?

JB: I don’t think that you can under estimate the value of having a good accountant and a financial lending partner. You also don’t want to skimp on bookkeeping. As your business develops you want to work with good financial information and facts to base your business decisions on.

OSB is here to help small businesses achieve big goals.

While many banks focus on solely the dollars and cents of a commercial loan transaction or a business checking account, OSB looks beyond the numbers to learn about the amazing people who have a real passion for building our community, like John and his team at Grand River Brewery and Cherry Creek Winery. OSB can help your business grow, too. Contact our commercial banking team today.

Reinvesting in Our Community, One Organization at a Time

OSB’s President & CEO, Rick Northrup shares what’s at the heart of OSB’s passion for helping small businesses grow.

As a community bank, OSB understands what makes our neighborhoods, villages, and towns unique. We focus on lending to the small businesses and organizations that make us who we are.

A recent example illustrates this:

A charter school in our community was looking to grow and move into a new facility.  The school had been operating in a rental building and the administration wanted to own a building in order to control the school’s future and growth. Although the school and staff had been in operation locally for many years, the only financing available to them was from large, out-of-town financial institutions, which was expensive with very disadvantageous terms. The school could not afford this type of financing without inhibiting its growth. In fact, the school would have had serious financial struggles under the terms, placing its long-term success in jeopardy.

At OSB, we looked at the situation and found that the school’s students had very high academic results; the school’s staffing was strong and experienced; and the school also had committed parents. The building that the charter school wanted to purchase was an old elementary school, which would allow the school to double in size. At the time, the school was serving over 140 students, representing over 100 local families. The school and its plans made sense to us.

The team at OSB got to work, examining the school’s track record, business plan, staff, and education philosophy.  We also investigated the school’s collateral, learning about the potential for reestablishing a school there for the long-term, and understanding its value. When all was said and done, OSB offered a package of term loans and line of credit financing that allowed the school to meet its goals, without placing its financial future in jeopardy.

Since purchasing the building, the charter school has grown and is on track to double its size, as planned.  For the current academic year the school is serving over 200 students and 150 families. Soon the school expects to serve 300 students.

This is how OSB Community Bank reinvests in our community, making things better for all of us who share this little corner of the world—one organization at a time.

OSB’s Flexible Financing Creates Opportunity for Small Businesses

Ted Schork, Vice President, Commercial Banking at OSB shares how our community banking philosophy has helped one local business succeed.

“A key benefit of community banking for small businesses is our willingness and ability to be flexible in the financing solutions we offer. I was recently reminded of this when OSB had the opportunity to serve one of our long-term, residential mortgage clients who also operates a small, family-owned business which has been part of our community for more than twenty years.

The business is co-owned by a father and his son and daughter-in-law. It provides excavating, logging and trucking services. Earlier this year, one of the company’s main customers indicated that two of its other subcontractors would no longer be providing trucking services due to their retirement. This customer needed to find another subcontractor to take on the additional work and contracts. They offered this opportunity to our client.

To be able to capitalize on this opportunity, the client needed to purchase another semi-truck, a trailer and logging equipment for their business. They approached our commercial lending team with their financing needs and the desire to keep as much of their current cash position as possible for working capital. Typically, a loan requires using a good portion of cash as equity or a down payment. Instead, OSB worked with this client to utilize the equity in their other vehicles and equipment to structure a loan that met their needs.

Creativity and flexibility in OSB’s approach to commercial lending helped to create a “win-win” situation and the ability to honor our commitment of serving our clients for the long haul.”

SBA Loans Provide Alternative Funding Options to Fuel Local Business Growth

Matthew J. Chrome, Senior Vice President, Chief Credit Officer, at OSB shares how SBA loans can help local small businesses grow, as we recognize National Small Business Week.

Over the course of my 20-plus years in banking, I have found that when working with small businesses, it is often necessary to look beyond conventional commercial loans in order to help fund their growth. The government’s Small Business Administration loans are often an ideal option that a community bank like OSB can access for its small business customers.

I recall two particularly poignant examples of using SBA loans to fund small business clients—one at the beginning of my career and one not too long ago.

In the first example, I learned about the power of SBA loans as I worked with a more senior lender who was trying to structure a loan for a minority-owned, fledgling business to buy or build a new building for their headquarters.  The business had some warts in its financial statements, including friendly debt and stagnant lines of credit. These are things that are commonly found with small, growing businesses. By looking outside of traditional lending options, this commercial lender found opportunity in the SBA 504 program.

The bank took on 90 percent of the construction loan to build the new headquarters, and the Economic Development Corporation took on 40 percent of the end loan exposure, leaving the bank with a 50 percent advance on the end loan. This alternative funding option gave a small, cash-strapped (but growing) business the money it needed to build a new headquarters—and the company is still performing well, 21 years later.

More recently, I was able to structure a series of SBA loans to support a prominent, growing restaurant business that wanted to expand further. The business has a track record of sufficient cash flow and is a consistent supporter of the community, but it does not have the collateral needed to support a conventional commercial loan with the bank.  Their significant shortage of collateral would normally stop the commercial loan process, but the SBA 7A loan program provided a government guarantee to the bank, in case of loan default, encouraging the bank to make the loan.

For small, growing businesses, having access to capital can make all the difference when it comes to achieving the next level of success. However, many businesses may have sufficient cash flow, but not enough collateral to qualify for traditional commercial loans. Or, they may have had some debt issues or some past financial misfortune that puts a blemish on their financial records. This can leave them limited in their ability to move ahead—unless they work with a lender who can offer some non-traditional financing options, like SBA loans.

Why Community Banks are Different…in a Good Way!

All banks are the same, right? They’ve all got tellers and lenders, they cash checks and write loans, they have ATMs. They all do the same things, because they’re all the same—or are they?

It’s a fact: Community banks are different. Different…in a good way. For example, community banks do more than just cash checks:

They’re helping businesses grow.

U.S. Small Business Administration statistics show that small firms employ just over half of the private-sector workforce and created nearly two-thirds of nation’s net new jobs over the past decade and a half. Community banks are natural partners to small businesses because they understand them so well and are committed to their success. As such, the funding, expertise and opportunities small businesses receive from community banks helps them grow and keeps dollars in our community – making it an even greater place to live

They’re creating jobs.

Community banks employ more than 700,000 Americans across more than 52,000 locations nationwide, according to Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA). In addition to their own employees, community banks help create employment locally by improving the economic infrastructure of the communities they serve and enabling businesses to get the financing they need to grow and add more employment opportunities.

They’re supporting the local economy.

ICBA statistics also show that community banks fund nearly 60% of small business loans under $1 million – reinvesting their deposit dollars back into their community. As a small business themselves, community banks are passionate about ensuring that the communities they share are thriving.

They’re helping local farmers.

Consistently the largest provider of agricultural credit, community banks provide $57 billion in agricultural loans (ICBA data). This comprises more than 70% of commercial agricultural loans in America.

They’re doing more than writing checks.

Communities banks, like OSB Community Bank (OSB) give back to the communities they serve, providing financial and in-kind support to organizations in their communities. Reinvesting back into the community is a central part of the community banking philosophy. OSB employees volunteer many hours to local community organizations – serving on boards for Hospice of Lenawee, Kiwanis, Cascades Humane Society, Jackson Enterprise and many more. Plus, our team is always ready to get involved in community events that foster stronger relationships.

They’re here for the long haul.

A community bank isn’t just another bank. Community banks are different and making a difference to the businesses, individuals and communities they serve. They strive to develop long-term relationships and are committed to supporting the local community through employment, reinvestment and volunteerism. Despite the uncertainty facing other financial institutions community banks are here for the long haul, so you can feel confident that working with (or for) a community bank is a decision you can feel good about over the long-term.

The Best Online Tools for Managing Your Money

9314For many of us, balancing a physical checkbook has become a thing of the past. However, we still need to keep track of our money. Yet, it can be challenging to keep track of our expenses and multiple bank, credit card, and investment accounts—especially when we’re on the go. So, if you are looking for a simple way to keep track of your personal finances, you may want to consider some of OSB’s electronic financial management tools. Using these tools can not only help you stay organized, but also provide you with insight into your spending patterns which can also help you budget and manage your money more effectively.

OSB Mobile Banking App
As an OSB customer, one of the first financial management apps you should consider is our own Mobile Banking smart phone app which helps you manage your deposit and loan accounts without having to be at a computer or one of our branches. The OSB Mobile Banking app allows you to view account balances and your recent transaction history; transfer funds between accounts; pay bills; and find ATM and branch locations.
The app also features Text Banking which allows you to view account activity via texting short codes for even quicker access to account information. For example, texting “B” will reply with your current account balance.
In addition, with the OSB Mobile Banking app you can sign up for Notify Me Alerts which send text or email notifications about your account status, check and deposit clearing activity, or if your balances rise or fall below an established threshold. You can also receive notifications about account-specific security information.

Personal Finance Manager
OSB’s Personal Finance Manager is a web-based financial management dashboard that allows you to consolidate and track financial information from your all of your online banking accounts. With Personal Finance Manager, you can create a comprehensive view of all of your financial relationships in one secure place—making money management easy.

This tool allows you to link your online banking accounts (even those not at OSB), to create budgets and track spending, as well as managing debt. Personal Finance Manager can also be used to help manage business accounts and financial information. In fact, if you own a business, you can incorporate all of your business and personal accounts into one dashboard view, giving you a complete picture of your finances.

Don’t Forget to Manage Your Credit, Too
The above web-based tools are effective for managing your accounts and overall spending. Remember, keeping an eye on your credit is also important. In addition to the big three credit reporting companies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), there are several other subscription-based credit monitoring options on the market such as Credit Karma and Credit Sesame that provide your credit score and recent activity, such as credit account balances, inquiries, and other data.
Using an app to get a handle on your personal finances can be a smart move, and apps can make it easier to manage your money when you travel and when you have many accounts at different institutions. One last tip: If you do decide to use one or more apps listed in this article, or you use a different one, be sure that the devices that you use to access your apps are password-protected to keep your sensitive personal and financial information safe.