Ace Hardware of Silver Lake opened its doors in July thanks to SBA’s 7(a) loan program. Gary Skrla was laid off from his corporate job and headed to the SBA office in Seattle to discuss his business ideas with Ed Milan, a SCORE representative. After a few counseling sessions, he decided to follow his dream and open a hardware store. His past hardware industry experience helped him decide the ACE Hardware franchise would be a good fit.
He found the perfect location in Everett – a new strip mall in the Silver Lake neighborhood and worked out the tenant improvements details. Timing is everything. Skrla took advantage of the new lending incentives of increased guarantees and reduced fees. He worked out the details in his loan application and received financing through Seattle-based Fortune Bank and the SBA 7(a) Loan Program. Lisa Forrest, vice president with Fortune Bank said, “Gary is a perfect example of what can be done with an SBA loan. He has an incredible range of experience including working in the hardware, lumber and nursery business. He has always wanted his own business. The Silver Lake area is growing and was ready for additional services and the 20 jobs the new store will generate are welcome, too.”
As part of the Recovery Act, SBA temporarily eliminated fees paid by the borrowers in the 7(a) program. The bank decision to provide an SBA 7(a) loan for $879,000 resulted in a savings of $19,777 in waived fees. This helped to get the inventory needed and provided the working capital to have the store open on time. “I wish I had done this sooner,” Skrla said. “It’s not that difficult; we are not six months into it and look where we are at.” Hard work and perseverance paid off for Skrla. He did his research, knew the industry, hired experienced staff, and sought out business assistance.