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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?

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.”

Entrepreneurs’ Advice on Growth

Feature Photo_nov2015At an early age, Anthony Lambatos was encouraged and given opportunities to nurture his entrepreneur spirit.  Guided by his father Jimmy, founder of Footers Catering, Anthony learned the ins and outs of running a business and managing money.  Jimmy gave Anthony and his sister opportunities to assist with the family business when they were very young.  In high school Anthony ran his own concession stand as a spin-off of his father’s business.  With little risk to business, Jimmy set up a 30 day contract where his children who became responsible for all the purchasing, hiring and staffing, scheduling, paying the team, ordering the food, buying the food, selling the food and balancing the register.  This experience really got Anthony excited about running a business.

In 2010 Anthony and wife, April Lambatos purchased Footers Catering from Jimmy.  Anthony admits that transitioning a business from one generation to another was extremely difficult.  As he puts it, “it is tough to turn that ship towards a new direction”.  However, he feels very lucky to be able to beat the odds and be a successful second generation family owned business.

Anthony has the following advice for future entrepreneurs:

  • Solicit informational interviews and advice from people that have been there before.

Often the younger generation feels that they “know it all”, and Anthony admits that he was in that category for a certain amount of time, and now understands the value of taking a step back and learning from others on what has been done before.  Then after such reflection, putting your own spin on the business is what will make you a more effective entrepreneur.

  • Surround yourself with great people.

If you hire and surround yourself with great people it makes coming to work more fun.  This will give you a much better opportunity for success.  When Anthony was running the concession stand he was able to hire his friends which made the work fun, teaching him that, “work didn’t have to suck”.  This led to the first line of the Footer’s mission statement.  “Love What We Do”.

  • Be prepared to work really hard.

Often the vision of owning your own business looks so fun and glamorous, you get to make all the decisions be in charge.  This also means you as the owner, carry all of the responsibilities on your shoulders. If something happens in the middle of the night you’re the one that will be getting up to figure it out.

Footers Catering has been highly successful, named Small Business of the year by the South Metro Chamber and Best Caterer in Denver by Colorado Meetings and Events in 2012. They also won Weddingwire Couples Choice Awards in 2015.  Anthony contributes the key to their growth in finding great people to work with; from his amazing partner and wife, April Lambatos (COO), who compliments Anthony’s skill set and manages operations in a way he never could; to working alongside some amazing people that have helped Footers to be successful and are as committed to growing Footers as Anthony is.  Anthony never envisioned he would be able to obtain 20 year fixed rate financing, with only 10% down, while having the flexibility of owning his own facility.