Offering Advice, Resources to San Antonio, Hill Country Entrepreneurs and Bankers
Bob Nance understands what it feels like to be in a potentially hostile environment that could change the trajectory of one’s life.
During a recent trip to the African country of Tanzania, the Texas Certified Development Company (TxCDC) consultant participated in a safari. “We got so close to so many wild animals. It just amazed me,” he said. “One time we went down this dirt road and came across some lions. We stopped about 30 feet away to watch them. One huge lion walked over and laid down in the shade of our truck right by where I was sitting. I could have reached down and petted that lion but I probably would have lost an arm in the process.”
That experience gave Nance a renewed respect for what many of his small business clients must have experienced when facing the seemingly unrelenting claws of the recent economic recession. “I was feeling secure inside the truck, but also knew that I could be suddenly mauled by the lion if something went wrong,” Nance said. “It’s like a small business owner who is doing well and growing, but can be put on the brink of disaster in a very short time if the economy takes a downturn.”
That’s why Nance uses the lessons learned during his 40-plus years of working in commercial lending and finance to guide small business owners in growing their businesses. Because of this wealth of knowledge and the relationships he’s built during his career, Nance has become the go-to person for San Antonio-area small business owners and bankers who want to get Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loans.
A Small Town Boy Makes It Big
Nance, the son of a salesman and a school teacher, grew up in Taft, a small community of 3,500 near Corpus Christi. He left South Texas to attend the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a bachelor’s of business administration degree in finance in 1973. After working for the Texas Employment Commission (now the Texas Workforce Commission) for several years after college, Nance returned to Taft to take a job as an executive vice president at the local bank.
Soon after moving back to his hometown, Nance found that he had come to prefer big city life. He returned to Austin in 1985 and the following year joined Southwestern Commercial Capital where he first worked with SBA 504 loans. That job served as the impetus for a 28-year career focused on helping small businesses thrive.
In 1987, Nance joined The Money Store, which at the time was the nation’s largest SBA lender. He was promoted to area vice president and was responsible for the region covering Texas and Oklahoma. While in this role, he moved to San Antonio in order to be closer to the SBA district office, which is based in the Alamo City.
In 1995, Nance left The Money Store to form Bob Nance and Associates, which specializes in small business loan consulting. This latest role lets Nance continue to do what he loves – helping small businesses grow. “The common thread in my career is small business financing,” he said. “I have found my niche in doing SBA loans over the years.”
An Increasingly Streamlined Process
Over his long career, Nance has seen changes implemented at the SBA that ultimately are good for the small business client and the banker. For instance, the SBA has streamlined its operations so that all loan approvals are centralized, thus cutting down the time that business owners have to wait for approval on their loans. “Twenty-five years ago, it may have taken months to complete the loan process,” Nance said. “Now business owners find out that it’s not the case and that their loans can be completed in a matter of weeks.”
There also has been an increase in competition among certified development companies, which ultimately benefits small business owners. Licensed certified development companies (CDCs) were originally restricted to working in specific regions since demand for SBA loans was limited. However, about a decade ago, the SBA allowed CDCs to expand their efforts throughout the state, thus encouraging competition. “That change meant that it was even more important for certified development companies to focus on providing outstanding service to differentiate themselves,” Nance said. “And that’s where TxCDC shines. Our staff is really good and they have extensive experience from the top to the bottom. The staff members also have been at the company forever so they know what they’re doing.”
Nance was originally introduced to TxCDC when he worked at The Money Store. “With the other two companies I worked for, we primarily used another SBA loan program (7a), but at the Money Store, we occasionally worked with TxCDC on 504 loans,” he explained. “In 2001, I was approached by a TxCDC representative about working with them as a consultant. I checked out the company and found that it was made up of a great bunch of people. I knew that I wanted to be a part of that group.”
Forging the Future for the Alamo City
While the Texas economy has tended to fluctuate over the years, the San Antonio area has remained fairly stable. “San Antonio is built on small businesses and is doing well,” he said. “The San Antonio area’s economy is more stable and tends to be less of roller coaster than the economies in many other Texas cities.”
He pointed out that San Antonio small businesses have positioned themselves well to benefit from the major economic powers in the region. For instance, the Eagle Ford Shale boom in the southern part of Texas has led many major oil companies to open offices in San Antonio, thus offering opportunities for small businesses to serve their interests. In addition, the Medical Center has generated opportunities for medical-related businesses that need offices and equipment. Another key component of the San Antonio economy continues to be the military, due to the presence of Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base and Camp Bullis. Additionally, the city’s tourism industry, which historically has accounted for one out of every eight jobs in the metro area and brought $12 billion into the city annually, continues to bounce back after the recession.
The Go-To Guy
In his work with TxCDC, Nance focuses on loans for small business clients in San Antonio and the Hill Country area, although his wide-ranging network has made him the “go-to” person for many clients in other parts of the state. Nance also has built a lot of relationships with regional bankers and encourages them to involve him early in the loan approval process in order to ensure that their small business clients qualify for an SBA 504 loan. “Most of the banks have the same loan officer and most of the banks have been in the San Antonio area since I began working as a loan consultant. I rely on those relationships to generate loans,” he said. “In fact, approximately 90 percent of the loans I work with come from these bankers.”
TxCDC President Suzanna Caballero appreciates Nance’s experience, professionalism, network and attention to customer service and the details. “Bob is Mr. 504. He provides incredible support to bankers and produces amazingly accurate packages that result in fast approval,” she said. “His experience with SBA lending has included training bankers and borrowers. His depth of knowledge allows him to provide platinum level service with every transaction. We love working with Bob!”
by Dorian Martin