Castle Stone Products
St. Louis, Missouri
|A Success Story:
Please tell us about your previous experience trying to access capital.
At the time I was speaking with TILT Forward, I had not spoken to banks, etc. This business was largely a start-up operation and I just kind of knew that banks, while they had funds available to loan, would be looking for some rock-solid security that a more established business could offer. We were / are growing, but banks tend to only really loan you money—when you don’t really need it!
With what I would call more traditional businesses like mine, there does not seem to be any real interest [by banks]. In an informal discussion with a banker acquaintance, he said he thought we would be hard pressed to get working capital due to our ‘association’ with the construction industry! Banks apparently got burned on this industry when the economy turned south. Unfair? Possibly. I can understand that, but I felt that we offered some other business points-of-difference to the market that no one else could really claim, but those points-of-difference would not likely get a good hearing because they would shut it down merely with the association to the construction trades. Maybe that’s changing a little, given the little resurgence we are seeing in commercial and residential development. But memories are long for some, so it will likely take a sustained period of time for this to diminish.
Was the loan from TILT Forward able to help you accomplish any business objectives?
To an extent, yes. While the loan amount was small, it did enable us to go and purchase some additional molds–which we really needed at the time. As the business grows, there is more need to further expand our production capabilities—which involves molds, conveyor line, mixers, etc. You have to be able to keep up with order demand and reasonable time frames to get the product into the market. If the infrastructure does not expand to meet demand, then at best you are treading water or more likely slipping, because you cannot turn the product fast enough to meet expectations.
How did you find the application process for the TILT Forward loan?
I found the process to be reasonable and not all that time-consuming…it was actually pretty simple. TILT Forward seemed to understand the plight of small businesses. The application process was fair and the terms were reasonable, in my estimation. If I walked into a bank and requested a loan, the process would have been far more examining—and time consuming—and that’s not even with a sure nod that they would offer a loan product. I’m busy with my business; TILT Forward was there at the right time for us and did not make the process cumbersome or over analytical.
Are you considering another loan through TILT Forward at some point in the future?
Yes, at some point, I do intend to renew a loan product with TF. The reasons: we have a little track-record established now with TF, the process the first-time around was reasonable & fair, and the daily tap to the company bank for loan reimbursement was easy to track & monitor. While the cost of money with TF is a little higher than traditional means, until a small business becomes a big business, then it might be considered a cost of doing business until the necessity of non-traditional funding channels becomes not necessary.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about your experience with TILT Forward?
I guess I would just reiterate that TF seemed to understand small business needs….there is a comfort with that.
|About Castle Stone Products:
Castle Stone Products stone veneers are inspired by nature and handcrafted to represent the real stone from which they are cast. Derived from natural products, Castle Stone’s architectural stone line is manufactured using a blend of Portland cements, iron-oxide dry pigments, specialty light-weight aggregates and other proprietary ingredients that add strength and durability as well as a natural feel and texture.