March 31, 2016
TO: United Fidelity Insurance Group
It’s a term that strikes trepidation and fear into the hearts of new business owners. Lore is rife with tales of pioneering entrepreneurs who have disappeared into the thicket of paperwork, bureaucracy, and minutiae, only to have their American dream of ownership vanish forever.
We could have fallen victim to the same terrifying journey when we embarked upon our dream of purchasing our own hotel. After working for years as hotel managers, saving our money and avoiding the temptations to buy new cars, boats, and other grown-up toys, we finally made the decision that the time was right for us to buy. We were “just plain working folks” who had heard “no” and “declined” enough times from banks and credit card companies during our lives that we weren’t completely sure our pedestrian credit score and paltry savings would be enough.
We quickly learned that all the pop buzz about “community banking” and “long-term business relationships” was useless when contemplating the acquisition of a hotel property. By their nature, such acquisitions usually involve a move to a different area, state, or even country. The years spent working with your local bank become meaningless because, unless they’re part of a megabank, they don’t issue loans beyond their parochial borders.
So we began searching for a broker who could help us navigate the treacherous waters of financing. What we found was better than we expected.
It began with a phone call to Melinda Black of United Financial Insurance Group. After several calls to potential lenders and brokers who seemed more intent on procedure and forms, Melinda’s enthusiasm immediately changed our outlook on the possibility of obtaining SBA financing.
Our comfort increased over the months as we visited 23 different hotel properties across the U.S. in search of the right fit. Melinda fielded our questions, gave us advice, and filled out a lot of paperwork on deals that never materialized. However, when we finally landed on the right project, she was there to give us confidence about the SBA process and get the bureaucratic ball rolling. After listening to naysayers tell us repeatedly that the government-backed loan would be an excruciating four to eight month exercise in paperwork and frustration, including sellers who turned down our offers because of their concern about protracted closing dates, we were amazed to watch the UFIG team turn those months into weeks.
With underwriter Mandy Widdick taking over for the next part of our journey, we were quickly able to settle on a participating bank. Mandy filled out all the forms for us, gathered the necessary information, and organized it in ways that took all the intimidation out of the endeavor. Even more impressive is that she continued to stand with us after the SBA lender initiated their process, keeping track of where things were in the timeline and making sure that our interests were protected with each step. We never felt alone during what could have been a lonely venture.
The entire UFIG team helped give us the confidence to pursue our dream, and gave us the tools and assistance necessary to turn that dream into our 32-room reality.
Thank you to everyone at UFIG for keeping the American dream alive!
*Morris and Coni Workman
Town and Country Motel
Osage Beach, MO