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Charleston Branch Office
405 Capitol Street Suite 412
Charleston, WV 25301
United States
Phone: 304-347-5220
Ismail Latif with SBA Administrator Karen Mills and WV Senator Joe Manchin

SBA Funding Brings New Concept in Total Car Care to Morgantown

AAMCO of Morgantown Success Story

On any given day in Morgantown it can be extremely difficult to maneuver through the streets of this thriving metropolis. From the traffic generated by West Virginia University, local hospitals, small businesses and federal agencies, automobiles are everywhere.

Morgantown resident and businessman Ismail Latif didn’t see the traffic as a nuisance, but an opportunity. “With all the vehicles moving in and around Morgantown and the hectic pace of everyday life, car owners needed a place they could go for total car care.”

Latif did a bit of research and found that AAMCO, which was primarily focused on transmissions, was broadening their expertise to include total car care. He made a few inquiries and soon had the 54-year-old company interested in opening their new concept center in Morgantown.

In order to make the car care center a reality, Latif was going to need some capital. He had previously used Huntington National Bank to fund a Quiznos franchise in Morgantown through an U.S. Small Business Administration loan guarantee and put in a call to Stephanie Ellingson to see if the bank might be interested in the AAMCO project.

“The SBA 7(a) program is well suited for these types of expansions, especially when the hard assets in the project may not fully secure the loan,” said Ellingson.

Craig Street, SBA Lending Director at Huntington thought this would be a good project to use a SBA 7(a) loan guarantee. “The AAMCO project is another great example of how Huntington partners with the SBA to find ways to say YES to small business owners in West Virginia,” he said.

The business loans that SBA guarantees do not come from the agency, but rather from banks. The loans are funded by the lenders who make the decision to approve or disapprove an applicant’s request. The SBA guaranty reduces the lender’s risk of borrower non-payment and gives small businesses a flexible financing alternative when funding might not be otherwise available on reasonable terms.

The prototype built in Morgantown, which created 15 jobs, is referred to as a super center and highlights the company’s expertise in total car care. A typical AAMCO’s facility has six operating service bays and provides service work on transmissions, engines, brakes and suspension issues. The new prototype has eight bays, with two dedicated to quick services such as oil change and tire rotations. This allows customers to get in and out in about 30 minutes without having to wait for a bay to become available.

SBA Administrator Karen Mills and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin were both impressed during a visit in May. “SBA specializes in programs for franchisees and the AAMCO center in Morgantown is the ideal opportunity for us to help a small business entrepreneur like Ismail to get started,” said Mills.

Latif is appreciative of the opportunity he received through the SBA backed loan through Huntington National Bank. “I couldn’t have done the project without the assistance of the SBA,” he said. “It was also an honor that SBA Administrator Mills and Senator Manchin were able to tour the car care center right after we opened.”

To learn more about the SBA’s loan programs and services, visit their website at www.sba.gov/wv or contact the West Virginia District Office at (304) 623-5631 (email: wvinfo@sba.gov).

ACE Adventure Resort Whitewater Rafting on the New River

SBA-Guaranteed Loan Keeps Resort Zipping Along

ACE Adventure Resort Success Story

Historically, when Ernie Kincaid and Jerry Cook take on a project at ACE Adventure Resort in Minden, W.Va., they approach it a little differently than other business owners might. The owners of the 1,500 plus acres of wilderness nestled along the banks of the New River usually start the project then try to figure out how they are going to finance it.

The adventurous duo, who have owned the multi-faceted resort since 1987, were in the midst of constructing a new welcome center to replace the old dilapidated trailer/garage structure guests see on their initial arrival to the Fayette County resort, when they realized they probably would need some financial assistance.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” said Cook when asked why about the decision to build the large log cabin-style structure at the entrance of the resort, behind which is a large lake that incorporates numerous water activities and a zip line. 

After approaching several financial institutions in search of a loan to finish the project and consolidate some outstanding high-interest debt, Community Trust Bank stepped up to the plate.

“Ernie and Jerry have been well established business owners for years and provide employment for over 400 people,” said Clovis Lawless, vice president at Community Trust Bank in Summersville. “We looked at the loan as a way to keep a highly productive southern West Virginia business viable and remain a factor to the continual improvement of the local economy.”

The loans were approved under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Jobs Act provision which helped both the bank and the borrower. Community Trust was able to receive a 90 percent 7(a) loan guarantee from SBA on both loans and ACE took advantage of the temporary elimination of guaranty fees which saved them over $126,000.

Without the increased loan guaranty and the waiving of the fees, the loans probably would not have been made both the lender and borrower indicated.

The debt consolidation loan contributed to the increase of cash flow for the business with the other loan used to cover the costs of capital improvements on the property.

The business loans that SBA guarantees do not come from the agency, but rather from banks. The loans are funded by the lenders who make the decision to approve or disapprove an applicant’s request. The SBA guaranty reduces the lender’s risk of borrower non-payment and gives small businesses a flexible financing alternative when funding might not be otherwise available on reasonable terms.

“Over the past few years our customers and philosophy have changed,” said Kincaid. “It used to be people came to the area just for white-water rafting. Now they want more adventure, more options and more things to do. That’s why we have expanded our offerings to include over a dozen outdoor adventures like zip line, ATV and fishing tours, mountain biking, paintball and more.”

The loans have also given ACE the latitude to begin working on projects to add winter activities such as the building of a snow tubing course. Kincaid and Cook have also been formulating ideas to offer even more summer outdoor activities.

With the construction of a National Boy Scout Camp opening in 2013 right next to ACE, the future looks very good for Kincaid and Cook.

“Not only will the Boy Scout facility bring over 50,000 Scouts to the area on a yearly basis, just think of the opportunity to provide their families with alternative activities when they bring them to the camp,” said Kincaid. “This plays right into our philosophy of making ACE more than a place to spend a day, but make it a destination. Give the customers a multitude of choices of activities to do each day.”

And if the expansion projects planned by ACE require the use of financial assistance, Community Trust Bank and the SBA will be right there to help the resort fulfill their mission statement which is to give their guests the highest quality outdoor adventure and have a great time doing it!

AZone-SRE Contract Signing - Nov 3, 2011.jpg

Martinsburg-based Firm Receives First Government Contract

Strategic Resolution Experts, Inc. (SRE), a 100 percent woman/veteran-owned small disadvantaged business, signed their first federal contract with the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service. SRE, owned by Jeannette King and headquartered in Martinsburg, W.Va., is a participant in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program.

The signing recognition ceremony took place at the Eastern Panhandle Entrepreneurs Forum held at The Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in Shepherdstown on Thursday, Nov. 3. SRE Business Development Director Elizabeth Sager, SBA’s West Virginia District Director Judy K. McCauley and Melissa Loder, SBA business opportunity specialist in West Virginia, participated in the recognition ceremony.

The $167 thousand dollar sole-source contract was awarded for Business Modernization Office (BMO) Customer Account Data Engine (CADE) Project Strategic Planning and Transition Management Support.

“As a participant in the SBA’s 8(a) program, SRE is laying the groundwork to become an extremely successful technology and business solutions company,” said McCauley. “Jeannette King is using the tools provided her through the 8(a) program to acquire the knowledge and experience necessary to bid on and receive government contracts. That’s the 8(a) program working as it was designed.”

“SRE is very proud of our accomplishments this year having captured three prime contracts and actively working on several sub-contracting opportunities,” said King. “It took us several years to break into the federal market, but with the help of the great people at SBA and our teaming partners, we are successfully delivering services to our federal customers. I am excited about the future opportunities for the company and employees.”

“The 8(a) program is an essential instrument for helping socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream of American society,” said Loder. “This program has helped thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs gain a foothold in government contracting.”

Divided into two phases over nine years, certified companies advance from a four-year development stage to a five-year transitional stage. The program provides access to sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing. While the 8(a) certification program helps firms build competitive and institutional know-how through sole-source contracts, the SBA also encourages participation in competitive contracts as well as commercial contracts.

SRE was founded in 2007 and provides technology and business solutions to government agencies and commercial customers. Their customer base includes such clients as the IRS, US Navy, Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Aviation Administration, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Princeton Information.

To learn more about the SBA and its business development programs, visit them at www.sba.gov/wv or contact Melissa Loder at (304) 623-5631 (Melissa.loder@sba.gov).

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