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Keeping Your Ducts in Order

Spring is almost over, so many businesses are putting away their mops and buckets as spring cleaning comes to an end.  However, with the quick approach of summer and the heat that comes with it, have you considered building maintenance that could help improve your office environment as well as protect your assets?IMG_0903

Perhaps you’ve cleared out old junk that piled up around the office for the past few months or cleaned up your email folders, but with the approach of summer and the increased stresses on your HVAC systems, have you taken the proper steps to insure you’re operating at full capacity and efficiency?  Have you taken the proper preventative maintenance actions to protect your system?  We sat down with the owners at Ducts Unlimited and discussed what you should do and how it could help your business.

We asked the owners, Robert Leishman, Elissa Leisham and Clifton LaMont for recommendations on maintaining your HVAC and other ventilation components. They all agree that preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid costly repairs and maintain the performance and integrity of your systems.   Business owners should consider checking their systems every 3 to 6 months depending on the system and how it is being used.  Catching a problem early is the best way to avoid large system failure and expense repairs.  Furthermore, just like an oil change, regularly changing your filters and belts along with regular preventative maintenance helps keep your equipment running at specs which allows your systems to operate at their best efficiency levels.

Ducts Unlimited has been providing commercial HVAC Installation and maintenance services to the Front Range since April 2000. Ducts Unlimited is a woman owned business, with over 100 years of combined experience in the HVAC industry. At Ducts Unlimited they’re focused on delivering exceptional customer service and believe every client “deserve(s) a quality job that is done right the first time”.   Robert and Elissa admitted to us that due to the “grace of god” and being blessed with the employees whose work ethic and integrity apply to every job they manage, they’ve been successful and continue to grow and expand.

Driven to Innovate

From the start Raymond W. Lavallee II has had an entrepreneurial spirit. Paired with his drive to innovate and provide high quality products to his customers, Ray has lead Intec into new exciting projects and opportunities.  When Ray was a child, still in grade school, he got an allowance from his father.  He asked his father how he could get more money, and his father responded with “you need to learn to make money with your money.”  So Ray set out buying candy for two cents and selling them for four.  Once he had enough money he bought a shovel and started shoveling snow for the neighbors.  He then saved up for his first lawn mower and by junior high he had 5-7 other kids working for him mowing lawns.  He continued this business through high school and college.

Ray graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Computer Systems and an MBA with a focus on Operations and Manufacturing Management.  With his extensive educational background, he started working for large corporations.  However, he always thought to himself, “hey down the road, if I could position myself and actually obtain a small company, I could really grow it.”  So Ray kept his eyes open, ready to jump on an opportunity if it arose.

Intec was a company founded on innovation and quality, providing portable insulation blowing equipment.  Intec created industry standards which have been and continue to be emulated and copied by others.  Along with innovation, Intec was also driven to provide the highest quality product to their clients.  In 2007, after working on multiple projects and building a relationship with the owner of Intec, Ray saw an opportunity to leverage these characteristics and grow the business.  He joined the company and began building up sweat equity in the business.  Vac SystemAfter taking full ownership Ray took advantage of the low interest rates in the SBA 504 Loan program, allowing Intec to purchase their current facility, and save about 1/3 of what they were spending on rent, reinvesting the funds in Research and Development.  Intec is now able to implement new “upgraded” innovative products, with the same high quality guarantee, the business is known for.  Intec is in a unique place where they are able to listen to a client’s needs and can customize products without sacrificing quality.

Ray’s story is one of drive and perseverance.  He stayed true to his dream of owning a business, and although he admits to unforeseen challenges, like the downturn in the economy, he has managed to grow his company; utilizing innovation to do so.  It is clear to see that Ray is passionate about what he does and proud to be the leader of Intec

Think GREEN with SBA 504

Think GreenThere is a BIG – GREEN secret within the world of Commercial Real Estate financing.  Most of you probably know about the SBA 504 Loan Program which is used by small businesses purchasing owner occupied commercial real estate and administered by Certified Development Companies (CDCs).  What most of you probably don’t know is that there are incentives for those businesses able to achieve GREEN Initiatives.  What incentives you ask?  How about qualifying for more money.  $5.5 million PER PROJECT in fact.  So how does one qualify for more money?  Well that’s exactly what we’re here to talk about.

First Things First 

To qualify for the additional moneys available within the SBA 504 loan program, you need to first qualify for an SBA 504 Loan.  With an SBA 504 loan, up to $5 million total can be lent.  Both SBA 504 loans and SBA 7a loans count towards this total.  This is why qualifying for $5.5 million PER PROJECT is a great option for businesses such as those that will have or currently have multiple locations, those wanting financing for large projects or those that just want to have less of an impact on the environment.

Public Policy Goals

Once you know that you qualify for an SBA 504 loan, let’s see if you qualify for the $5.5 million per project.  To qualify for the additional per project money a company must meet 1 of 3 Public Policy goals outlined by SBA.  Those Public Policy goals are – 

  1. Reduction of energy consumption by at least 10%. This Public Policy Goal is a great option for those businesses looking to upgrade and replace a current facility, to a more energy efficient one that reduced their energy consumption by the required 10% within the same local area.
  1. Increased use of sustainable design. An example of meeting this Public Policy Goal would be a business building a structure with low impact materials.
  1. Plant, equipment and process upgrades of renewable energy sources. This 3rd Public Policy Goal is where such items as solar panels would fit in.  An example of this would be if a business was purchasing a building and wanted to also include solar panels that would create its own electricity.

For any Public Policy Goal that is met, SBA does require supporting documentation through either an energy audit, engineering report or other professional evaluations deemed appropriate by SBA.   These reports would be submitted to SBA at the time your CDC submits your loan request for approval.

So to recap, by meeting and achieving 1 of the 3 Public Policy goals above a business qualifies for $5.5 million PER PROJECT by the GREEN Initiative portion of the SBA 504 Loan Program.  Some important things to keep in mind are first, a business needs to be eligible for an SBA 504 loan before they can meet any Public Policy Goals and second, for any Public Policy Goal met there needs to be supporting documentation provided.

Think SBA 504’s GREEN Initiative option is right for you?  Find your local CDC (Certified Development Company) for more information.

By Stephanie Gerringer, Executive Director

Keeping Green In Mind

Being a sustainable business and considering your environmental impact on the world does not have to mean being an environmental activist.  It means breaking down the services your company provides and really considering the environmental impact it has and implementing methods to lesson and/or improve that impact without the need to be radical.IMG_0101

From the beginning Jeff Patch, President of Premium Panels, Inc. has focused on building a company driven to provide customers with the ultimate experience in service and products.  What isn’t as publicized, is the company’s dedication to being Green.  Jeff took the time at the start to consider his products and how his company could be a sustainable company, without impacting quality or service.  A large percentage of all the materials Premium Panels buys is recycled.  Jeff has maintained the mentality that his business should “leave the smallest footprint as possible” from the very beginning and that even the little things can make a difference.

Furthermore, Premium Panels recycles all for their metal scraps from their projects, along with offering their clients the ability to bring their scrap metal to their facility to be recycled.  Jeff explained that “metal can be reused, and reused, it doesn’t need to be new” which allows Premium Panels the opportunity to provide an exceptional product to their clients while keeping Green.

Not only is Premium Panels conscious of their environmental impact, but the product they provide can also help their clients be more sustainable.  Metal roofing has the ability (with proper insulation) to cut a buildings energy bill significantly.  The metal panels reflect the heat back into the atmosphere, unlike tile and asphalt roofing which can trap heat from a hot day for hours after the sun has gone down, hindering the house from quickly cooling off in the evenings.

Green CubeA few years ago, Premium Panels had the opportunity to work with Urban Green Development group on the project, known as The Green Cube home.  It was LEED Platinum certified, and one of the first of its kind in the area.  LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and concentrates its efforts on improving performance across five areas of environmental and human health: energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, sustainable site development and water savings.  IMG_0096

Colorado is currently ranked fifth in the nation for LEED green building and with businesses, such as Premium Panels, providing green sustainable products, more of us can keep green in mind whatever our future endeavors may be.

A Woman’s Perspective on Business Success

In honor of International Women’s Day, which was earlier this month, we thought we would highlight one of our many borrowers managed and influenced by a strong female presence. Mary Benoit from Mathias Lock & Key Mary Benoit is President and manages the day to day operations of Mathias Lock and Key alongside her two son Benny and Michael Benoit.  Mathias Lock and Key was established in 1901 by John Mathias, as a mechanical shop, focused on fixing just about anything mechanical or repairable.  John left the shop to his nephew Steve Benoit Sr in 1951.  Steve and his wife, Violet ran the business until 1981 when Mary and Steve Benoit Jr. took over.  The business has changed over the years to address specific needs of their clients.  By the time Steve and Mary took over the business it’s focus was on security, locks and safes.

As the President of Mathias Lock and Key, Mary explains that she has had a great experience leading the company. She contributes a lot of her experience to the fact that when she first took up the business, it was just her husband and herself with a couple of guys working for them.  Mary was able to come into her leadership role gradually, she didn’t just jump in with 30 employees, all trying to figure out where each person should fit.  She was able to gradually grow as a leader, earning the respect among her peers and colleagues.  She attributes her success as a leader to making sure that everybody understands what their job is, and furthermore that they want to be doing that job.

In addition, the success and longevity of Mathias Lock and Key can be contributed to, their ability to modify their business plan in order to meet their customers’ needs.  Mary admits that they are constantly analyzing their financials and operations and if services are 2% of their work or 3% of their revenue then maybe they shouldn’t be doing it anymore. Mary’s learned that it is important to spend your efforts and resources on products/ services that work.Welcome to Mathias Lock & Key  When asked about what advise she would share with business owners looking to expand or take over other businesses she replied:

Go with what you know:
Just because you’ve always wanted to be a baker, but you’re a printer, doesn’t mean it’ll work out. It could be a disaster.

Stick with what you know:
Being over anxious can mean you end up buying a business with either a lot of debt or a bad reputation. If you know the industry, you’ll know if it is too far in debt or you’ll know the reputation of the business before you buy it.

Don’t buy something you need to fix:
If the business has a bad reputation you’re better off buy a new location and expanding rather than trying to fix a bad reputation. With a new location there is nothing to fix, you can just build your business how you want.

Mary’s advice for fellow women looking to start or take over a business: “Go for it!  Be educated and know what you’re talking about. That’s how you gain respect.  You’ve got to have respect of your colleagues your peer to succeed.  We all go through phases were we’re a little intimidated and we don’t know anything and then you go through phases where you think you know everything, get a little delusional and a little reckless and then as we mature we figure it out. Lastly, gain an education and have real realistic goals.”

Investing When, Where and Why

With the start of the new year, and the imInvesting (1)minent “tax season” upon us, financial planning is often on the for front of our minds.  Individually, many are thinking of where they are at and what types of investments they may want to make for their futures.  On a larger scale business owners are doing the same thing, evaluating how the previous years turned out and what new ways they can invest, to improve and grow.  No matter the type or size of investing one is looking to get into, it is important to do your research, set clear goals and find trusted resources/partners to assist you with your goals.

Exploring long-term investing we interviewed Michelle Onoda, MBA at Estates Financial Services, for her thoughts on real estate investing.  Michelle specializes in financial planning for both businesses and individuals, and admits that there are benefits as well as clear draw backs to investing in real estate.  Her statements are primarily in residential real estate, however, PLP believes many of the concepts can be applied to commercial real estate.

Many small businesses use the SBA 504 Loan Program to invest in real estate for the long-term.  Businesses use low down payments and fixed interest rates to provide stable grounding for their business operations with potential equity growth and appreciation.  When considering whether to invest in real estate or not the pros can be found in the “hope of potential appreciation in the property; equity build up, tax benefits, and the ability to leverage their money, along with pride of ownership,” Michelle Onoda.

Investing in real estate can be uncomfortable, there are financial commitments with initial down payments, renovation and ongoing maintenance expenses.  However, the long-term return can be significant, especially if planned appropriately.  Here are three statements you may want to consider before spending:

1) Figure out what type of investing you’re looking into doing, long-term or short-term.

2) Determine which investments best match your needs depending on the time you have available to invest.

3) Find the appropriate partners to work with to get you where you want to go.


To reach Michelle Onoda please contact her at 303.948.1102 or by email at

Growing into the New Year

Growing into the New Year

Happiness and Growth

by Megan Jewell

It’s a new year, and small businesses everywhere are assessing how they did last year, determining challenges and setting goals for growth in 2016.  The SBA 504 Loan Program can assist small business owners in four key ways for growth:


  • Invest in Real Estate and Capital Equipment:

Small businesses are able to invest in real estate and capital equipment while safeguarding their working capital.

  • Low Down Payment

Small business are able to take advantage of low down payments, freeing up more working capital

  • Fixed Rate

A fixed rate that doesn’t balloon or adjust helps the small business to prepare for the future without the uncertainty of changing payments.

  • Staple in Community

Having a space to call their own whether it is an entire building or just an office condo stabilizes a business and helps it put roots down in their community.

Being members of the community ourselves, we are dedicated to helping small businesses.  In 2016 Preferred Lending Partners wants to do more to help small businesses and our borrowers grow and flourish.


“It’s our job to enable and keep the small businesses in Colorado permanent fixtures in the community that we live and play in. If they don’t exist, we don’t exist” states Juliene Wynn, Preferred Lending Partners’ Credit Analyst.


We currently assist our borrowers through the SBA loan process and with servicing actions after the loan has funded. We provide webinars and training for our partner lenders, along with links and articles to industry resources. However, there’s so much more we could and would like to do for the small business of Colorado.


What would help you as a small business owner?  What more could we do to be better advocates for you and your business?

SBA 504 Refi Program is Back!

SBA 504 Refi Program is Back!

By Stephanie Gerringer504 RefiIs Back!

So it is FINALLY BACK!!!  The SBA 504 refinance Bill, also known as the Commercial Real Estate and Economic Development Act of 2015 (simply the CREED Act) or part of the Omnibus Bill.  I don’t care what you call it, or how it got passed frankly, I am just thankful that it did!  This is one heck of a Holiday gift!  The Omnibus Bill that passed on December 18th, includes a provision to reauthorize the 504 refinance program at $7.5 Billion to help business owners refinance their existing commercial mortgages and to increase their availability to affordable credit.

I want to give a big round of applause to our trade association NADCO for their undying efforts to advocate and get this permanent 504 debt refinance program into law, as the last time this program was around it was in 2012.  There will be a minimum of 4-6 months to issue the regulations and the forms needed to start the program up again and make it functional.  As it goes, there are several additional restrictions on the new rules and regulations.   NADCO is already working with the powers that be within SBA to help expedite the process and work on those boundaries.  The bottom line is this, at least there is something to work towards.

Currently, the 504 program only allows for acquisition loans of new projects: land and construction, property itself or heavy duty equipment.  The reenactment of the refinance bill will dramatically increase the number of loans that can be made and allow banks the opportunity to partner with SBA/ Certified Development Companies (CDC’s) the liaison for such 504 loans radically.   The benefit to the 504 loan new or refinance product is the fixed rate loan and long amortization.

In 2012 when the bill originally expired, it was reported to have helped refinance $5 billion of debt for small businesses throughout the U.S.  We’re excited for the potential to exceed that number with the reinstatement of the program.  Stay tuned for updates on this topic from the “Preferred Team”.

Denver Is Where It Is At!

Denver is where it is at

Denver Upholstery – custom upholstery for commercial and residential needs

Denver Upholstery was founded by Steve Volz.  Steve got into the business at an early age.  He stated out at a shop, resting space for $100 a week to work on projects and learn the trade.  The owner of the space gave him a key so that he could “fool around at night” working on side projects, learning different techniques, which he would receive guidance and critiques on by mentors in the shop.  It was a great opportunity.

When Steve was 12 he started working.  He always envisioned himself owning his own business.  At first he thought he would make millions, and it would be so easy.  He quickly realized that to be a successful business owner, you have to be prepared to work 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  It’s a full time commitment.

It is because of his dedication to his business that Steve and his wife Megan were able to purchase the building in Dec. 2013.  Steve has always worked hard, often 18 hours a day, to make money to reinvest into the company to avoid having substantial debt and overhead expenses.  With little debt history for the business Steve and Megan originally struggled to find financing for their building.  They first tried to use their original bank relationship but their bank wouldn’t work with them, because although they had cash in the bank and knew what they were doing, they hadn’t been in business long enough on paper to make the bank feel comfortable.  Then they found once he found Preferred Lending Partners and Champion Bank and the process became very smooth.  Steve admitted that it was “easier than buying our house”.

Now in their own building Steve acknowledges that there are ups and downs.  The maintenance is a pain, and it can be difficult to meet all the city expectations and requirements and even though owning your own building comes with a cost, if can reinvest your money back into the business and double up payments to pay off the loans it is all worth it.  This is Steve’s retirements plan.  The property values continue to improve, especially in Denver, and he fully expects to get his investment back.

His advice to other business owners in the Colorado, work your butt off.  “Denver is where it is at right now, you can open a store front and be busy.”

Sharing Sheilas’s Sack – Food Drive

Sharing Sheila’s Sack was created by Debi Sena after she met Sheila during the NADCO training session they were both in attendance.  Sheila worked with another CDC doing what Preferred Lending Partners does, distributing and servicing SBA 504 Loans.  Sheila shared some of her life experiences with  Debi which moved Debi and inspired her to create Sharing Sheila’s Sack.  Here is Sheila’s story:

Sheila led a pretty good life, living within her means, enjoying biking and other activities.  One day she was riding her bike on a mountain side, she was giving the driver of a truck plenty of space to go around her, but for some reason she still ended up being hit by the Truck.  The truck drove away and left her injured and alone until another motorist stopped to assist her.  Due to the extensive amount of medical bills, Sheila ended up homeless, living out of her car and relying on the generosity of food banks and similar services to get her by.

Sharing Sheila's Sack_Logo

Sharing Sheila’s Sack

Once Sheila was able to, she started buying one item to put in a grocery sack, each time she went to the store.  Eventually the sack filled and she took it to the food bank, to help others just as she has been helped.  She continues to do this, slowing filling a grocery sack with food and donating it each time it fills.

Debi was so moved by this story she started “Sharing Sheila’s Sack”.  This is a movement, expanding Sheila’s reach.  If each person took one of the green Sharing Sheila’s Sacks and slowly filled sit with one item each time they went grocery shopping, the amount of food that could be collected would be remarkable.

So in this season of giving, PLP and LPS are asking you to get involved.  We’ll bring you a Sack to fill and are even willing to come back to collect it when it is full.  The food collected will go to two local food banks, Food Bank of the Rockies and Bienvenidos Food Bank.  We’ll be hosting our food drive until January 29th, there are three options to donate.  First you may call to schedule a drop off and/or pick up (303) 861.4100 of Sheila’s Sack.  Second, you may drop of your donations off at our location at 140 East 19th Ave, Suite 202, Denver, CO 80203.  Third you can take your donations in to any food bank, church, neighbor or friend in need that you would like. We’ll be doing a recognition page on our social media in January thanking everyone for their involvement, if you choose to participate using option three please let us know where you send you donations.

We appreciate you taking the time whether through your company or personally, to fill Sheila’s Sack with a little bit of love for those that could use a helping hand.