In 2006 Carolyn Cahlik and Tiffany Tutin co-founded Coast to Coast Equipment with just two employees – themselves. Having only $200 at the beginning, they operated the company out of their own home. Selling used high reach construction equipment (such as cranes, boom lifts and reach forklifts), the company began to capture a niche market in northeastern Ohio. However, the recession brought difficulties for most industries, and the construction business was especially hard-hit. By 2008, the entrepreneurs saw a disturbing drop in the market value of Coast to Coast’s inventory, while its bank ended its lending to middle-market companies.
Carolyn and Tiffany decided to stabilize the business by diversification, and founded Ohio High Reach LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary, which rents construction equipment. “To survive we tend to adapt and seize new opportunities,” noted Tiffany. “A local bank and the SBA saw the strength of our company and our vision.” The company developed a new banking relationship with Ohio Commerce Bank, and the company then used SBA programs to move toward greater viability. 2009 saw the company secure an SBA 7(a) loan to refinance its debt, and the same year Coast to Coast received an SBA Express line of credit for working capital. “Increased product offerings gave us the power to sell packages of equipment by the container load,” explained Carolyn. “Exports doubled from 2009, as we began serving customers in eighteen different countries.” By 2012, international customers in 32 countries in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa accounted for 38% of company sales.
The owners did not neglect the domestic side of their business and in 2010 Coast to Coast/Ohio High Reach was extended an SBA 7(a) term loan to purchase additional equipment for their rental business. “The SBA was there to help again,” points out Carolyn. During this time Carolyn and Tiffany were able to create eight new jobs in sales, shipping, inventory management, a new service department as well as an equipment operation and safety training program. Also, early in 2012, Carolyn and Tiffany utilized the SBA’s 504 program to purchase a 14,000 square-foot warehouse/office/yard in Valley View, near Cleveland, from which they currently operate. This purchase benefited the adjacent community because the real estate was converted from a vacant site to the home of a viable business.
Today, Carolyn sells equipment, as well as develops and implements strategy. She also manages the day-to-day operations of Coast to Coast and manages banking and other strategic relationships. Tiffany is the sales arm of the company, having responsibility almost exclusively on equipment sales. She is also the key equipment purchaser, and is astute at analyzing market trends for competitive advantage. Believing in the value of “giving back” to their community, Carolyn and Tiffany are involved in their local neighborhood in Tremont. Coast to Coast/Ohio High Reach is on-track to meet its goal of continued global growth of equipment sales. Through November 30, 2012 both entities’ sales exceeded $14 million. Combined revenues have grown 34% annually, on average, over the past 4 years. For that same period, the average combined net operating income has grown 56% annually. Carolyn and Tiffany recently reflected on their success and the help the company has received from the SBA. “Where we are today is just the beginning,” stated Carolyn.
The founders were honored as the 2013 Northern Ohio Small Business Persons of the Year.