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2014 Top St. Louis Lenders

Mike Zalman, Meramec Valley Bank

Position: Vice President – Commercial Lending

Number of years serving business owners: 19 years, 11 years with Meramec Valley Bank

Motivation to help business owners:  I get enjoyment from each new loan I approve. I think about the effects of the loan on the business, the owners, the employees and the community.

Unique ways (or products) that have helped your clients in raising capital: Bankers should have more than one option for their customers. They may include traditional loans, SBA guaranteed loans, or referrals to non-bank lenders.

Best advice for business owners seeking financing:
Understand the metrics that bankers use to analyze your business, like debt service coverage and debt to worth ratio, and do your own self-analysis. You will be able to estimate your ability to get financing and will also be able to make adjustments to reach the levels necessary to get financing in the future. Most bankers will share with you the tools they use to analyze your company.

Biggest mistake you see business owners make: Failure to retain earnings. Keeping earnings in the business will help you in the long run. It will help reduce your need to borrow money, but if you do borrow you should get a cheaper rate because of the retained earnings. If you plan to sell your company in the future, the amount of retained earnings you have will be a major factor in the valuation.

 


 


Jeff Camilleri, U.S. Bank

Position:
AVP Business Banking

Number of years serving business owners: 23

Motivation to help business owners: Every successful entrepreneur shares the same drive for success while pursuing their passion.  I enjoy meeting with these business owners,   sharing in their dreams and visions and providing the financial solutions to help them meet their goals.

Unique ways (or products) that have helped your clients in raising capital:  Successfully raising capital is difficult in any economic climate and certainly in today’s environment. It is important as a relationship banker to understand the client’s capital needs,   while working with their CPA and other financial professionals in developing a comprehensive plan that typically includes both traditional lending products along with alternative ways to help bridge the gap with any capital needs.  

Best advice for business owners seeking financing:  My advice to business owners seeking financing is to have an open dialogue with your lender and other financial partners well before you need funding.   Most experienced commercial lenders will have a variety of ideas on how to help business owners meet their financing goals with a combination of both traditional bank and non-bank financing solutions.  

Biggest mistake you see business owners make: The biggest mistake I see business owners make,  is not consulting with their financial team as soon as they identify an upcoming financial need.    Every business owner should have a solid relationship with their banker,  CPA and other financial professionals.

Outlook for businesses that will need capital in the future: 
  Business owners are still cautiously optimistic.   Most businesses have recovered from the economic down turn and are operating efficiently under today’s economic environment.  



Andy Weissler, The Business Bank of St. Louis

Position: Vice President, Commercial Lending

Number of years serving business owners: 10 years

Motivation to help business owners:
I am fortunate to be in a position to provide banking solutions that help my clients grow and achieve their goals. Being a trusted advisor and adding value beyond just lending money is a rewarding experience.  

Unique ways (or products) that have helped your clients in raising capital:
There are several loan products and programs available to help clients raise capital but being able to introduce new and existing clients to one another can sometimes lead to new business and capital raising opportunities for them and their business.  

Best advice for business owners seeking financing
: Find a Bank that values your relationship and makes an effort to understand your business model.  Be organized and present a well thought out business plan with historical and pro forma financial information to support the financing request.  

Biggest mistake you see business owners make: The two biggest mistakes I see business owners make are not establishing and setting aside sufficient capital to grow their business and not choosing partners wisely.  

Outlook for businesses that will need capital in the future
: I think the outlook for new capital is positive.  The Banking industry as a whole is much stronger than it has been for some time and Banks are looking to lend money and establish new relationships.




Jeff Meyers, Midwest BankCentre

Position:  Vice President - Business Banking

Number of years serving business owners:  18 years

Motivation to help business owners:

I spent most of my first 10 years in banking as a manager. Whether managing a single branch or as a market manager, I was always intrigued by the relationship between the business owner and the business banker. Many times I was approached by customers who told me that they owed much of their growth and success to their business banker. That’s how I want my business customers to think about me. My goal is to help put them in the best position to succeed.

Unique ways (or products) that have helped your clients in raising capital:
Many businesses today need capital injections but may not quite meet their bank’s underwriting requirements. In these cases, I like to partner with the SBA to try to help clients obtain that line of credit that allows them to expand or buy additional equipment to take them to the next level.  A business should not view a bank’s first decline as a permanent or final decision.  My job is to help my client utilize all of their options.

Best advice for business owners seeking financing:

I would advise business owners to keep their financial records organized and readily available. The financials tell a lot about the health of a business and can help prove why additional financing would help the business grow.   Most importantly, when seeking financing, have a good understanding of what you can afford to borrow, and be able to explain why the loan will improve the business.

Biggest mistake you see business owners make:
A business must retain some of its profits on the balance sheet if it wants a bank to consider lending. Many business owners don’t plan on borrowing money, so many times they take too much of the retained earnings profits out of the business. When the time comes to borrow, their business doesn’t look as healthy as it needs to




Andrew Preuhs, Commerce Bank

Position: Small Business Specialist

Number of years serving business owners: 10 years, nearly 11

Motivation to help business owners:
I am motivated by the passionate and driven individuals who own small businesses. Each individual and story is unique.  I enjoy listening and offering financial solutions to meet their business needs.

Unique ways (or products) that have helped your clients in raising capital:
Commerce Bank has been helping dentists and health care practices in acquiring capital for awhile. Businesses have a variety of financial options available to obtain capital. Knowing which option is best will depend on whether you are looking to grow your business, acquire assets such as new equipment, or maybe just obtain short-term funding.

Best advice for business owners seeking financing:
Start discussions with your banker as soon as possible. Having the right banker in your corner can make a big difference in how you grow your business and make it successful. Whether your banker will be answering your financial questions, helping you to find a solution to a problem, or just making a recommendation, your banker should be your go-to person.  

Biggest mistake you see business owners make:

Small Businesses should keep an eye on their balance sheet. Before a small business asks for a loan, they should make sure they review available collateral to use for a lending request.  Also, monitor credit scores. In small business, there is a strong connection between personal and business finances.




Carrie Kerley, First Community Credit Union


Position:
Asst. Vice President Business Services

Number of years serving business owners: 21 years, four at First Community Credit Union

Motivation to help business owners: 
Personally, I want our business members (customers) to succeed in their business. I am in their corner and not just because they have a loan with us, I want their business to thrive.  During the relationship you can see them grow and be successful and that is very rewarding.  

Unique ways (or products) that have helped your clients in raising capital
:  First Community has an array of products available to our members (customers) but they don’t necessarily understand the differences between those products.  It’s very important to understand the company and direct them to that right product that is going to work best for them.

Best advice for business owners seeking financing:  They should take the time to make sure they are prepared when seeking financing.  They know their business better than we do.  Too many times lenders are not given enough or the correct information to ensure they are getting the best product available. Don’t assume your lender knows your business like you do. Help them understand so they can help you.

Biggest mistake you see business owners make: One of the biggest mistakes that I see is not leaving any liquid assets on the balance sheet and spending everything they have.  It’s important to maintain a cash reserve so that you can grow with your business.  



Patrick Bowen, Royal Banks of Missouri
            

Name:  Patrick Bowen

Position:  Senior Vice President, Commercial Relationship Manager

Number of years serving business owners:  16

Motivation to help business owners:  I truly enjoy helping others.  

Unique ways (or products) that have helped your clients in raising capital:  Using various types (both business and personal) of collateral to help support borrowing needs.

Best advice for business owners seeking financing:  Presenting the bank with an organized, complete package of information related to the request gives you credibility and ultimately makes it more likely your request will be approved.

Biggest mistake you see business owners make:  Trying to do it all.  One client recently added staff to help with estimating/bidding and marketing.  This allowed them to spend more time developing new business.  The result: significant growth in revenues and profitability.      
Outlook for businesses that will need capital in the future:  Very good; the economy seems to be stabilizing and banks are eager to grow existing relationships and develop new ones.




Michael Kellogg, BMO Harris Bank
            
Name: Michael Kellogg

Position: Assistant Vice President, Small Business Banking Officer

Number of years serving business owners: 10, 3 with BMO Harris Bank

Motivation to help business owners: For an owner, their business is their life.  The passion that they have for that business drives my motivation to see them succeed.

Unique ways (or products) that have helped your clients in raising capital
: I try to look at the whole picture, and implement a wide array of financing options for my clients. This includes SBA loans/lines, leasing, credit cards, as well as traditional bank financing depending on the individual situation.

Best advice for business owners seeking financing: Have actionable financial data on hand and available. Be able to explain the trends in both your industry and your individual business. By understanding your business’ financial picture thoroughly, we can work together to find the best and most effective forms of financing.

Biggest mistake you see business owners make: Failing to plan ahead.  Don’t just start thinking about financing when you need it.  The best time to get financing in place is when things are going well.  Then it is already available to you when challenges arise.


Submitted 8 years 246 days ago
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