Premier Vegetation Supplier Brings Hope With the Help of SBA PPP
Oscar Warmerdam emigrated to the United States from The Netherlands in the 1990s and he is now a U.S. citizen. He feels lucky to have landed at a forward-looking company that provided lots of on-the-job training and farming knowledge that he has used in running his own companies, Moerings -USA, LLC (MUSA) and Moerings Green Roof Maintenance, LLC. He describes farming as “a business of hope,” and feels farmers need a certain amount of cleverness and perhaps “foolishness” to succeed in an industry with so many inherent challenges.
Moerings -USA, LLC (MUSA) was founded in Georgia in 2003 focusing on the aquatics plant industry. In 2005, MUSA moved to Culpeper County where it maintains a nursery on a 160-acre farm. In 2007, the company began growing and selling green roof products. MUSA sold their aquatics plant division in 2010 and has since focused entirely on the green roof business.
MUSA and Moerings Green Roof Maintenance, LLC (MGRM) sell green roof solutions to other green roof growers and manufacturers of green roofs products who ‘private label’ their products. They also sell directly to building owners and general contractors. They work with almost all roofing and green roof manufacturers in North America. MUSA is now considered to be the premier and largest vegetation supplier in North America. The company does not advertise. All of the company’s work comes by word of mouth.
Oscar Warmerdam is an innovator. As a child, he was always asking “Why?” Where others give up, he continues to seek knowledge and looks for ways to improve the green roof industry. In addition to developing the company’s own branded product, Purple Roof – a combination of layers that provide support to the green roof plants (now patented), he has added green walls to his product line and is also developing a less labor-intensive solution for maintenance of the green roofs that he installs (currently all done by hand).
He shows his appreciation for the products he sells by saying, “There are no bad plants, only bad environments.”
At the end of 2019, after building its own lab to run experiments, the company completed its development of a stormwater solution to handle runoff. Just as it was ready to launch sales of the new solution, the Coronavirus pandemic began. MUSA developed cashflows problems and MGRM had to shut down for three months. Mr. Warmerdam describes 2020 as “the worst year of my life.”
Also, at the same time, Mr. Warmerdam was involved in negotiations to buy the remaining ownership in MUSA with a fast-approaching deadline. Mr. Warmerdam’s partner had tragically been killed in an automobile accident in 2015 and his ownership had transferred to his wife who had no interest in participating in the business. She had set a deadline for the buyout to take place and Mr. Warmerdam needed a financing solution.
Mr. Warmerdam met with his banker, Pete Nadanyi, at Fauquier Bank for assistance. The bank was aware of SBA financing options and worked with Mr. Warmerdam to provide financing in several ways:
- A 7a term loan of $1,277,200 was made to complete the buyout of the remaining ownership in MUSA.
- There was an existing note owed by MUSA to PNC Bank which was used for improvements to the business property and other working capital needs. A 7a term loan of $1,067,000 refinanced the debt, greatly improving the company’s cash flow.
- Fauquier Bank also provided two new CAPLines lines of credit to MUSA ($650,000) and MGRM ($100,000) which would sustain their ongoing cash flow needs.
- MUSA and MGRM also received Paycheck Protection Program loans in amounts of $351,080 and $88,145, respectively.
Mr. Warmerdam indicated that without the financing provided by SBA, the company would have had great difficulty weathering the pandemic and meeting the deadline related to the partner buyout. The financing has allowed him to continue focusing on his product innovations which he feels will lead to more widespread use of green roofs and increased sales.
The Paycheck Protection Program allowed him to retain his staff of 28 employees.