COVID-19 relief options and additional resources

Lincoln Business Owner Uses Paycheck Protection Program Loan to Provide for his Employee Family

Mike McFarland, President of Norland International, Inc. In Lincoln, NE, considers his employees as family. “Running a small business with 136 employees, I know every employee. If they are married, I know their wives. If they’re not married, I know their significant others. I know the kids.” So when COVID-19 hit Nebraska, his business manufacturing for the bottled water and craft beer industries was hit hard.  Mike and his partners started Norland International back in 1993 and grew the company from 0 to 136 employees - he was no stranger to the ups and downs that happen in the small business world. But this was different. “[Our] prospects have been waiting to place orders. We have products built and shipped, but customers are waiting to make their final payments, and no one knows how long it will take to recover. We were maxing out our line of credit.” Mike did all he could to cut expenses – they were able to arrange longer credit terms with a supply company, he and his partners took salary reductions and they temporarily suspended 401K contributions to employees. They were looking at doing reduction in hours from 40 to 32 hours a week, and beyond that, reduction in force. “Forced reductions – that’s a really tough nut to crack. We were right up front with [employees]. We said we don’t know where this deal is going but it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be real tough.”

Then Mike called his local Union Bank branch and asked about getting help. His loan officer told him about the newly created Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from the U. S. Small Business Administration.  This forgivable loan program, guaranteed by the SBA, was created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and was designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.  Mike received a $2M PPP loan through Union bank that covered his payroll costs for 8 weeks.  Mike calls it the “Business Lifesaver.”

Mike was initially worried about the timeline for receiving the funds. "I was talking with Chris Wagner, my loan officer at Union Bank, and thinking holy smokes, how can SBA possibly handle the PPP? It's going to be months. We're going to be out of business before the loan approves. But Chris said Union Bank was set up to automate the process and we could expect really fast results." 

And those results were indeed fast! Mike stated, “SBA and Union Bank flat-out delivered. We submitted the application on April 3rd, was approved that same evening and we were funded on April 10th. I thought ‘you’ve got to be kidding me!’  I can’t put into words what that means to us because we had payroll coming up and I thought how are we going to cover that? You’re in a staff meeting, and you realize it’s not just those 136 people counting on you – it’s their families and kids. It was really troubling. There were lots of sleepless nights.”

The PPP loan meant that “the average employee virtually saw no effect. They were able to focus on what they do best.” Mike credits Union Bank for helping the process go so smoothly. “I just can’t imagine having a better bank than they are. When I walk in and know I’m more than just a number it’s great. Whey they say ‘we’re here for you,’ they definitely are. They stepped up early, they stepped up huge. I can’t believe how straightforward the application process was. Thank goodness for the SBA and Union Bank. They really are world class.”

Mike isn’t shy about telling people how much the PPP helped his company.  He calls it a “God-sent program” – in fact, he’s been so vocal about it that President Donald Trump even quoted him directly during a COVID-19 White House briefing! Now there’s a great story to share in the staff meeting.

Company Name: 
Norland International, Inc.
Lincoln, NE