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.

OSB Helps Ann Arbor, Michigan, Property Restoration Company Build on Their Success

Heidi Mitchell is a Partner at Prentice Partners of Ann Arbor, LLC (Prentice Partners). Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Prentince Partners acquires, renovates and leases multi-family residences in the city’s Lower Burns Park neighborhood. The company also acquires single family homes for the purpose of performing upscale renovations followed by resale in the same neighborhood. Currently, the company has two partners and two employees.

OSB recently asked Heidi about working with a community bank like OSB. Below she shares how it has helped Prentice Partners build on their success:

OSB: When did you first begin your relationship with OSB and how has working with OSB helped Prentice Partners achieve its goals?

Heidi: Our business associates referred Prentice Partners to OSB after we had completed our first two multi-family renovations. We were outgrowing the offerings of our first banking group and wanted a lending partner that could help us build on our early success and achieve our business objectives.

OSB has filled that role and more. They provide us with competitively structured portfolio lending for acquisitions and capital expenditures. The commercial lenders at OSB are skilled and reliable business partners who have provided expert guidance to us along the way. OSB has helped us to quadruple our portfolio net equity since we have started working together.

OSB: What do you think is the biggest difference between working with OSB versus a regional other commercial lending institutions?

Heidi: Our partners at OSB talked about and demonstrated that they conduct business based on the idea of value creation. This requires a level of understanding and service that other banks don’t offer. We evaluated other banking partners during this process but they all lacked the approach we were looking for. We have been very pleased with decision we made to bank with OSB. Overall, our experience with OSB has been outstanding

OSB: What would you tell other business owners who are looking for a commercial banking and lending relationship?

Heidi: Take the time to understand how your bank and lender is going to leverage your brand, your assets and your skill sets to help you achieve value. These returns will strengthen your foundation and open new avenues for meaningful growth.

While many banks focus on solely the dollars and cents of a commercial loan transaction, at OSB we look beyond the numbers to learn about the amazing people who have a real passion for building our community, like Heidi and her team at Prentice partners. 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.

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.

Behind Every Successful Business Loan is a Great Customer Relationship

In celebration of National Small Business Week,our commercial lending team is sharing how OSB helps local small business owners find flexible financing so they can take advantage of new growth opportunities. John Spiedel, Senior Vice President of Commercial Lending at OSB shares his thoughts below.

“While many banks focus on solely the dollars and cents of a commercial loan transaction, at OSB we look beyond the numbers to learn about the amazing people who have a real passion for building our community.

True community bankers are intensely focused on their community, but they also recognize that a community is defined by people—not just by lines on a map. A perfect example of this philosophy in action is the relationship that OSB has formed with a mid-1980’s University of Michigan alumna who lives in California and has an extremely successful consulting business there. Even though she lives far away, she has always stayed connected to her hometown, Ann Arbor, including making investments in student rental properties in the city.

Recently, this customer decided to purchase additional student rental properties in Ann Arbor, but none of the other “local” banks wanted to lend to someone living outside of Michigan. She was referred to OSB by another local business owner (who has since become our customer as well). Instead of dismissing her request on a geographic basis, we looked deeper, taking the time to learn about her goals and to understand her keen business sense and conservative, disciplined nature. We also noted that she flew in each month to visit each of her Michigan investments in person. She was hardly an absentee owner, which made her an even better potential customer.

By working to understand not only the financial situation but the person behind the numbers as well, we saw that this scenario held not only manageable risk, but a great potential customer relationship. Her investments in property renovations have been carried out by local workers using materials bought locally. This customer’s satisfaction with OSB’s small business loans and our way of doing business is evident in her willingness to recommend us to her many other Ann Arbor business contacts. This is proof that behind every successful business loan is a great customer relationship.”