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SBA Export Working Capital Loan Helps Company Grow

Brief description of the business: Matrix Engineering, PLLC, started in April 1995 in Paducah, KY by Michael Eck and Darren Jarvis, provides consulting engineering services to industrial clients, including major producers of chemicals, pulp and paper, steel, minerals, water treatment, baking powders, food ingredients, pharmaceutical binders, cosmetic gels and powders, and tobacco products. Because of overseas business opportunities, the owners in 2007 founded another company, Matrix Industrial Systems, Inc. The companies provide custom bulk material handling and control systems, including continuous feed systems, pulverized fuel feed systems, industrial control systems and mobile test unit feed and delivery systems as well as the engineering services for those systems.

Matrix is considered an industry leader for pulverized fuel feed systems for lime recovery kilns, specifically petroleum coke fuel delivery systems for rotary kilns. Matrix currently has the most ground petroleum coke delivery systems on the market. In 2012, the company obtained a patent for its DENSI-FEED® continuous weigh feed system, a real advantage over the typical batch system feeders.    

Petroleum coke, also known as petcoke, is a solid carbon material derived as a byproduct of the oil refining process and is typically used as a fuel source in power plants. One of the services the company offers is the design and construction of system packages, turnkey installation, as well as maintenance and emergency service calls. For one project, the company designed and built a system that allows petcoke to be burned as a fuel for a paper plant in India, and Matrix has worked on similar large projects in other countries.

SBA Assistance: Paducah Bank is an SBA lender in western Kentucky and was approached by the Matrix management for help with an international letter of credit that the Indian paper company required. While experienced in SBA lending, Paducah Bank loan officers had never done an international loan with an SBA guaranty. Paducah Bank promptly reached out to Sandro Murtas, Regional Manager, Export Solutions Group for the SBA Office of International Trade in Atlanta, because bank representatives previously met Murtas at the SBA Lenders Conference in Kentucky.

Murtas guided Paducah Bank representatives through the process of obtaining an SBA international loan and showed bank management how to obtain a 90% SBA guarantee through the Export Working Capital loan program. The loan approval was contingent upon obtaining an SBA guarantee, which was accomplished. Sandro also connected the bank loan officers with a Kentucky representative of the U.S. Department of Commerce, who assisted Matrix with questions they had concerning export licenses.

Because this was the first international letter of credit of this type that the lender had done, Paducah Bank also partnered with its correspondent bank, Stockyard Bank & Trust Company, another SBA lender, in Louisville. Brian French, the international banking manager for Stock Yards, helped Paducah Bank with its internal documentation and reviewed all documents between the international banks.

Number of employees: 9

Staying power: Financing for the project in India took longer than expected, and the paperwork process was quite challenging for both the company management and Paducah Bank. However, with guidance from Murtas and Stock Yards Bank, the SBA Export Working Capital loan was obtained.

Response to adversity or problems: High fuel prices, particularly oil, create significant opportunities for companies to switch to alternative fuels such as petcoke. However, wild price swings for oil are not uncommon, and the price of oil has dropped dramatically in the past few months. As the price of oil drops, the return on investment for conversion to alternative fuels can increase dramatically. Also, countries such as India often have different business models because the banking infrastructure common in North America and Europe is not available in many developing countries, so Matrix has been exploring equipment financing options for its clients.        

Learn more about SBA’s loan programs, free counseling services and other small business programs at, your lender, and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE Chapter or Women’s Business Center.

Company Name: 
Matrix Engineering, PLLC and Matrix Industrial Systems, Inc.
Paducah, KY