A.R. Ruiz’s Vast Experience Will Benefit Small Business Owners in DFW Metroplex

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Pic 2A.R. Ruiz has a deep understanding of Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loans. In his new role as the Texas Certified Development Company (TxCDC) consultant for the Dallas/Fort Worth area, A.R. will use the lessons he learned as a loan officer and banker to help small business owners grow their businesses.

His deep experience makes him uniquely qualified to assist his clients. “I pride myself on customer service,” A.R. said. “I have extensive experience on the sales side, but I also started off working on packaging and underwriting of SBA 504 loans. I can do the whole package from start to finish. That brings a lot of value to my clients and to my partners.”

Starting in the Family Business

His education on SBA 504 loans began at the family business. “I’m a second-generation SBA lender and I actually got into the SBA world by working in the family business as a packager and an underwriter,” A.R. said. During his early years working in the family business, A.R. assisted with $40 million in 504 loans through TxCDC.

Eventually, A.R. decided to spread his own wings in the business world. “In 1999, I had the opportunity to work with another CDC in Austin,” he said. “I did a bit of everything in that job. I began as a business analyst, then worked my way up to be a 504 loan officer.”

Bound for the Metroplex

In 2007, Ruiz moved to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to open a TxCDC office. “Since I had a previous history with Texas Certified, I was very familiar with their processes, the company and the people who worked there,” he said. “At the time, I didn’t have any family or any business contacts in Dallas, but I actually did really well. I had a three-year contract and during the third year, I helped TxCDC become the third most productive CDC in the DFW area.”

Eventually, the other CDC enticed Ruiz to change employers with the opportunity to serve as the director of lending while opening its Dallas office. In his new role, Ruiz managed a team of six loan officers who focused on microloans as well as SBA 504 loans. “I was there for a couple of years, during which I increased the portfolio by over a third,” Ruiz noted. “The CDC received a national award for greatest increase in portfolio size during my tenure.” Also to Ruiz’s credit, the CDC experienced a 35-percent increase in SBA 504 approvals over that time span.

Rounding Out His Experience

Since moving to Dallas, Ruiz nurtured a relationship with Regions Bank to help his small business clients obtain 504 loans. “Regions Bank was very familiar with my work and they knew that I knew about the SBA and they liked my work ethic,” Ruiz said, noting that he was offered a position as vice president-SBA relationship manager in 2012. “I had always wanted to work on the bank’s side of transactions. I thought that experience would round me out. I knew what the SBA does, but I wanted to better understand the banking side.” During his tenure, A.R. earned the top spot in customer service rating and loan production.

Returning to His Professional Roots

Yet, when TxCDC had an opening for a Dallas-area consultant, A.R. jumped at the chance to return to work with the company. “At the end of the day, it’s the people,” he said. “They’ve all been at TxCDC for years and some have been with the company for decades. The depth of knowledge at TxCDC allows us to navigate through eligibility issues and make the projects work. Now I have a team to support me and help me succeed.”

Ultimately, A.R. believes he has found a professional home. “When I look at my career moves, I was always asking myself, ‘Where was I most successful and where did I enjoy my time the most? Where was I happy?’’’ he said. “At the end of the day, I realized the answer was TxCDC.”

Contact A.R. to learn how he is Empowering Businesses Through Smart Lending for Fixed Assets in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex & North Texas areas. You can reach him by calling 214-300-5646 or email at ar@txcdc.com

SBA’s 504 Refi Program is Back!

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The U.S. Congress voted to reinstate the Commercial Real Estate and Economic Development (CREED) Act as part of its passage of the year-end omnibus spending bill for FY 2016. This action dramatically increases the number of fixed-rate loans that can be funded through SBA’s 504 loan program by earmarking $7.5 billion to help small businesses refinance eligible business debt. This loan program will be available starting in summer 2016 through Texas Certified Development Company (TxCDC).

“We are excited that TxCDC will again be able to help business owners leverage their fixed assets to provide cash for expansion, development and growth,” said TxCDC President Suzanna Caballero. “TxCDC eagerly awaits the SBA’s guidance on implementing the program and then working with Texas business owners to build their future. In 2012 we helped 12 businesses refinance debt on their buildings and finance working capital for inventory, new employees and improvements on their equipment and property. We were inspired by these business owners who have invested years of hard work building their companies.”

This refinance program existed for 16 months between 2011 and 2012, during which more than 2,300 small business owners to refinance $5 billion in debt. The program was “sunset” in 2012, leaving 400 businesses still in the loan approval pipeline. “Debt refi is a fantastic tool to help CDCs in their economic development work,” said Claire O’Rourke, vice president of governmental relations at the National Association of Development Companies.

Congress’s action will help small business owners restructure their finances so they can focus on growing their businesses and hire additional employees to support the growth. This action was a result of bipartisan cooperation between Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY), Sen. David Vittner (R-LA) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

Learn more about how small business owner Eddie Wilson used this type of loan to grow his business in 2012 here.

Stay tuned for more details but in the meantime, if you want more information about this reinstated loan program, please contact TxCDC at 512-433-1175 or 800-486-8620 or contact Caballero at scaballero@txcdc.com.

SBA 504 Program Continues To Have Capacity to Fund 504 Loans

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SBA published a notice regarding 7(a) lending’s impending approach to its FY 2015 loan volume ceiling before the end of the fiscal year, likely within the next few days. Due to the anticipation of the end of the availability of 7(a) loan authority, SBA has indicated that 7(a) applications will be processed up to the point of approval and then will be placed into a queue awaiting the availability of program authority. Applications in the Queue will be funded in the order they were approved by SBA at the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2015 unless Congress takes action to raise the program cap prior to that date.

The Certified Development Company (504) Program continues to have available capacity to fund 504-eligible loans through the end of the fiscal year.

Reported by: NADCO (National Association of Development Companies)

Success Story Showcase: See How Four Businesses Benefited from SBA 504 Financing

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Entrepreneurs work hard to differentiate their business so they can provide the perfect products and services to their customers. Texas Certified Development Company (TxCDC) takes the same approach when helping small business owners who are considering purchasing property, a building or major equipment. TxCDC works with each entrepreneur to tailor an SBA 504 loan to meet the owner’s needs with the most favorable deal possible.

Here are 4 examples of how TxCDC made it work:

  • Tim Prukop, the owner of 1UpSports, had just opened his Austin-area business when he began to think about taking it to the next level. TxCDC helped to make that dream a reality. Click here to download PDF.
  • An initial 504 loan helped Krisana Puccio and her co-owners open the Pineapple School in San Antonio. The success of this early learning center led to a waiting list of more than 300 children. Puccio and her co-owners decided to get a second 504 loan from TxCDC to build a second location. Click here to download PDF.
  • Valley Die owner Andrew Brown used two 504 loans to enhance his business. The first one refinanced the company’s real estate while the second one purchased new die casting machinery. Brown anticipates these loans will allow him to increase sales by 30% and hire more employees. Click here to download PDF.
  • State Farm Agent Dee Carter used a 504 loan to buy a new location that is three-times the size of her previous location. This property is helping her expand her business. Click here to download PDF.

Austin Company Using SBA 504 Loan to Create Welcoming Office Environment for Employees

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bio_pic_andyGasPedal CEO Andy Sernovitz believes in making a commitment to his employees as well as to his clients. The New York Times’ best-selling author views the company’s employees as his work family and wants to ensure that they have the best possible environment so they can enjoy their time at the office while also being productive.

gaspedalFinding that the company was starting to outgrow its third leased space in five years, Sernovitz considered locating another rental in Austin’s hot real estate market. However, thanks to an SBA 504 loan through Texas Certified Development Company and Horizon Bank, he found he could purchase a location that would meet both the company’s current and future needs while also improving its bottom line. “When we looked at what it would cost to rent space, we realized that with a 504 loan, it would cost us the same to buy space,” Sernovitz said. “The 504 loan also changed the economics of our small business. The rent money is now going to be invested in equity. It improves our entire balance sheet and makes us a stronger, more stable organization.”

Creating a Community to Support Networks

Founded in 2006, GasPedal’s mission is to support peer-to-peer networking groups for clients from major corporations. For instance, the company’s staff members manage the networking efforts of SocialMedia.org. Clients involved in this effort include social media managers from a wide-range of companies, including Aetna, Hallmark, REI, Hewlett Packard, Sonic Drive-In and St. Jude Medical. These network efforts, which include meetings and conference calls, help corporate social media managers learn from each other.

To help staff members facilitate these types of conversations, GasPedal needed an ideal space that would offer both dedicated quiet space as well as meeting areas that could help spark innovation. Furthermore, the company often asks employees to travel between the company’s two offices in Austin or Chicago for extended stays. Thus, the location needed to be able to accommodate staff members who would be there on a temporary basis.

Having the Vision for Growth

quote_andyIn his search for property, Sernovitz stumbled on a 44-acre ranch that included a warehouse. The facility is an unusual use of space and also bigger than what most companies of GasPedal’s current size would seek. “But it makes sense when you’re looking at a 20-year development plan,” Sernovitz explained.  “Do we need this much space this week? Probably not, but when you look at how we grow over the next few years, we have the ability to grow into what will be our permanent office campus. That’s the real opportunity. That requires a certain amount of vision and understanding of what we’re doing, where we’re going and how we’re growing.”

However, finding financial partners who understood that vision took some time. Sernovitz spoke with a dozen lending institutions but found that many bankers weren’t interested in financing the deal. “Most of the other bankers and CDCs that we talked to couldn’t understand what we were doing,”  he said. “What we really loved about TxCDC is that they really understood our business and our non-traditional strategy and then found a way to make the deal happen.”

quote_andy2Sernovitz’s energy and blueprint for GasPedal’s growth impressed TxCDC’s staff members. “Blyth Rehberg, our Central Texas business development officer, and I were introduced to Andy by Shirley Sheffield of Amplify Credit Union,” TxCDC President Suzanna Caballero said. “We were amazed by the company and Andy’s enthusiasm.  His vision was clear that he was going to create an environment that nurtured his staff and that could be a destination for his clients.  He wanted it all in one space and the new location and financing with SBA’s 504 program fit his needs.  He now has the location, money to make improvements, a low initial investment and low monthly payments.”

Caballero also helped Sernovitz find a bank partner in Horizon Bank and was able to close on the loan in mid-December. “TxCDC pushed the process through faster than anybody else,” the GasPedal CEO said. “Horizon and TxCDC are the folks in town who know how to get the deal done.”

A Place Called Home

GasPedal’s new location will be one of the first office projects going into one portion of Northeast Austin. “It’s something that’s good for us, TxCDC and the city,” Sernovitz noted. “Together, we’re bringing a lot of jobs and a lot of innovation to an under-served part of town.” He anticipates that GasPedal will double in size to 50 employees when the new location is completed in the next year.

The new facility also will serve as home base for GasPedal’s many long-term employees. “We have a lot of employees that have been with us for five or more years so longevity is a big deal for us,” Sernovitz said. “A lot of companies talk about the family feeling at work. We’ve had three weddings this year, three babies this year so we have a whole lot of folks growing up with our company. So when we look at those kinds of family relationships and we start planning on a 15-year or 20-year horizon, the 504 philosophy sort of fits with our view of the world. Committing to a 20-year loan to build out a home for our work family – that’s something we like.”

Written by Dorian Martin

Betting on a Sure Thing When Helping Business Owners

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TxCDC Consultant Armando Ruiz Offers One-Stop Shop that Helps Clients Find Property and Obtain Financing

bio_pic_armandoArmando Ruiz loves to travel. One of his annual trips is to Las Vegas where he enjoys trying his luck at the casinos. However, it’s his clients who have all the luck when he helps them with locating and financing their business locations.

To make sure that he’s not gambling with his customers’ livelihood, Ruiz has focused on being able to effectively and efficiently serve the many needs of small business owners. The Austin native can help owners find the property that best fits their needs and then assist them in qualifying for an SBA 504 loan to finance the building. Through it all, he provides wise counsel to help his clients make appropriate plans as they start or grow their business.

Those qualities make Ruiz a valued member of TxCDC’s team. “Armando’s deep knowledge of commercial property, businesses and SBA 504 lending brings great value to his clients,” said TxCDC President Suzanna Caballero. “He represents his clients’ interest throughout the decision and implementation process and delivers what they want, whether it’s advice, financing or support. We are happy to have him on our team.”

Committed to Learning and Economic Development

After initially dropping out of high school, Ruiz got his life back on track after he was drafted into the U.S. Army. After earning a GED diploma while serving as a soldier, Ruiz used the G.I. Bill to earn a degree in accounting from St. Edwards University in Austin.

Most of his career since graduating has focused on economic development. His first job after college was as a business analyst for Austin Minority Economic Development Corporation. In that role, Ruiz helped local businesses with financing and provided business counseling in areas such as procurement. After a four-year stint as an auditor for the Texas Railroad Commission, Ruiz transferred to the Texas Department of Commerce where he worked with U.S. and international businesses that were considering expanding into the state to identify financing and to develop the necessary infrastructure in communities to support the relocation. During his 10-year tenure, Ruiz did $300 million in infrastructure and financing for businesses around the state. When he was the state agency’s director of financing, Ruiz helped start a state-wide certified development company.

quote_armandoVenturing Out on His Own to Help Entrepreneurs

In 1995, Ruiz started his own business, The Ruiz Companies Inc., to focus on assisting business owners with real estate and financing. “Ever since I started with Austin Minority Economic Development at the local level, I saw how business owners were struggling and how my influence and my knowledge would help them,” Ruiz said. “That created a very high energy for me to be able to provide them with quality service.”

Ruiz has become a one-stop shop for his clients. Business owners often come to him when they are starting to search for commercial real estate property. “I help them find the property and then work with them to structure a 504 loan to get the financing done,” he said. This process can take many months, thus allowing Ruiz to build strong relationships with these business owners.

Ruiz views his business approach as an opportunity to teach small business owners about the SBA 504 loan program. He finds that most small business owners’ first step when seeking to expand their business is to contact a lender, who then dictates the type of loan. However, because he helps his customers find the real estate, he is able to educate them about the benefits of the SBA 504 loan and then he presents the deal to the bank. “The 504 is a wonderful tool,” Ruiz said. “In my opinion, the SBA 504 loan is the most secret program around when it comes to businesses.”

He also offers counsel on issues related to expansion to his clients who own medium or small businesses. “They’re concentrating so much on making a profit in their own industry that they sometimes do not know what needs to be done in implementing an expansion,” he explained. “Because I’ve done so many projects, I know the hardest thing in an expansion is new construction. There’s a lot more risk because there are so many moving parts. A project can be off budget and there are a lot of things the owner needs to know in advance before he starts the construction project. These are some of the things I advise them on – what to look for, what not to do.” Ruiz’s clients appreciate his counsel and seek him out again when they begin to consider other expansion opportunities.

Since starting his business, Ruiz has focused on enhancing his knowledge of both real estate and financing in order to better serve his clients. In 2000, he became a Texas real estate broker. Ruiz obtained the Certified Commercial Investment certification in 2003. To achieve this national credential, Ruiz had to have $5 million in transactions, participate in classes and pass an eight-hour test. He added the title of Certified International Property Specialist in 2009, which is awarded to people who have completed transactions with international clients and who have participated in an intensive educational program and passed a stringent exam.

A Good Partnership with TxCDC

Ruiz started working as a consultant for TxCDC soon after forming his business. In that role, he has done more than $200 million worth of SBA 504 loans all over Texas. He currently serves the Laredo, Austin and Houston areas.

The consultant believes that TxCDC’s commitment to superior service sets it apart from other CDCs. “Texas Certified really has been able to deliver good customer service. TxCDC’s consultants have their relationships and we obviously would like to keep those relationships. The only way that you can keep them is being able to provide individualized and personal customer service,” Ruiz explained. “Texas Certified has allowed us to do that, which differentiates them from other CDCs who get too bureaucratic in the process and don’t have that personal touch. Their focus on volume often leaves the customer behind. TxCDC’s approach has been to focus on the customer and we’ll get the volume.”

Ruiz’s attention to his clients has resulted in the creation of a professional family. “They call me up any time and say, ‘Armando, what about this? Or what about this?’ Plus they call me for help when they are ready to do another expansion,” he said, adding that the favorite part of his job is getting a project completed and watching businesses open their doors. “I get referrals from my clients – that’s the rewarding part. Nobody’s going to refer you unless you’ve done a good job. It’s a good sign.”

Written by Dorian Martin

New Year’s Resolutions for the Entrepreneur

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This article was originally published in the SBA South Florida January Small Business News email and is contributed by Marjorie Weber, Finance Consultant at Florida SBDC at Florida International University College of Business. From time to time, we here at TxCDC come across news and information that we believe benefits our customers, partners and employees. Enjoy!

Are you a business owner with plans to seek additional funding in 2015? Here are some excellent tips to consider before, during and after:

1. Do not go it alone. Seek counsel from other unbiased professionals: SCORE, SBDC and other community business.

2. Do set-up separate bank accounts for your personal and business funds.

3. Do not ignore the importance of having a good credit score. Use 680 as a benchmark.

4. Do commence business operations until all the needed funds are available.

5. Do not seek capital from a lender or an investor until you have prepared required documents needed to make a decision.

6. Do study the variables that relate to seasonality of your business when preparing cash flow projections.

7. Do not use short term debt for the purchase of equipment that has a long term life.

8. Do sign a lease (or any contract) only after you prepared a start-up budget, cash flow projections, and the required capital is available.

9. Do not sign a partnership or a joint venture agreement that does not have a buyout provision.

10. Do seek an unbiased professional review of the terms of the agreement before signing a lease.

11. Do not underestimate your operating expenses, or overestimate your income.

12. Do conduct background and reference checks before hiring new employees.

13. Do not ignore the importance of including a dollar value for the services you personally provide to the venture.

14. Do understand insurance requirements and the protections they offer for your new business.

TxCDC Teams Up With Horizon Bank To Finance GasPedal Expansion With SBA 504 Loan

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This article was originally published in the Austin Business Journal and is written by .

gp_imageArchitect wanted: GasPedal accelerates plans for cool corporate campus

Attention architects: A cool opportunity to design and retrofit a warehouse in Northeast Austin has emerged now that Austin-based GasPedal has purchased an unusual property for its growing staff.

“We are looking for a partner with real vision,” said Andy Sernovitz, CEO of GasPedal a company that runs peer-to-peer communities for major brands, including SocialMedia.org and 350 companies on the Fortune 1000 list. “This is a unique opportunity to take a huge amount of space and land and do something that hasn’t been done before. We’re going to do something amazing.”

Gaze across the landscape at the GasPedal property at 10300 Springdale Road and rural Texas appears in all its glory. But truth be told, the property is near the convergence of U.S. 290, I-35 and U.S. 183, just a short distance south of Samsung Inc.’s large facilities…click here to continue reading the full article.

 

Repost: MSNBC Interviewee Reports on Debt Refi: You Don’t Want to Miss This Clip

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This article was originally published in a NADCO email news report. From time to time, we here at TxCDC come across news and information that we believe benefits our customers, partners and employees. Enjoy!

In case you missed it, Jay Goltz – who owns The Goltz Group, blogs for the New York Times, and heads five businesses – recently interviewed with JJ Ramberg of MSNBC. Among the topics discussed were SBA 504 lending and the need for debt refi.

Highlights from the Jay Goltz interview

“I will tell you I’ve done SBA loans, I’m doing one now, the SBA loan program is great – there are some tweaks there though… They aren’t allowing you to take money out of the program, if you’re refinancing. It’s out there in Congress and they’re trying to bring it back to where you can get money out of it. It would be helpful if they could just bring that [debt refi program] back to where that was two years ago.”

“There are things out there that aren’t going to cost the government any money, that’s very very helpful to small business and it’s frustrating that every year you don’t know what they’re going to be doing.”