In 2008 as the U.S. financial crisis started to roar, Chris Clifton was looking for lenders to help him put together an SBA loan to purchase a well-known Twin Cities landscaping business – in the middle of winter.
He initially thought that a national bank was the best choice, but the seller recommended that he talk to the team at Platinum Bank. “I liked the feel of things there,” Chris said. “The shareholders were optimistic and I had the sense that we would get along really well. As the economy was rapidly deteriorating, I had more confidence in Platinum’s ability to get the deal done.”
It’s our honor to introduce you to Southview Design.
Southview Design is a landscaping contractor with a hard-earned reputation for excellence in landscape design, construction and service. Since 1978, they have completed over 7,000 landscaping projects in Minneapolis, St. Paul, the Twin Cities area and western Wisconsin. They have received numerous state, regional and national awards for their work, including Excellence in Landscape Design, Contractor of the Year and Outdoor living awards. Their work has been featured in prominent local and national magazines. One of their recent press-worthy projects was the design and renovation of the popular KARE-TV “Backyard” – an outdoor weather studio that now features a national award-winning Northwoods theme.
Platinum approved Southview Design for a multi-million dollar financing package so that Chris could buy out the previous owner and ensure working capital for the seasonality of the business. Working through the SBA process, Platinum designed a method to advance the loan in stages – between the closing date in February and through August 2009 – allowing time to verify that the business was performing as forecasted once the summer season kicked in. After the seller agreed to the payment arrangement, Platinum proceeded with SBA approvals and closing.
While it helped that Southview Design had a great reputation with excellent operators and profits even during the Recession, the business had few hard assets and was seasonal. It wasn’t a slam dunk for underwriting. That’s where Chris Clifton’s character entered the due diligence process. “The deal did make sense on paper, but that wasn’t their chief concern in the long run,” Chris said. “They were looking to partner with the right people, and they made a judgment that I was a solid choice. It’s eight years later, and we’ve gotten along famously.”
Today, Southview Design forecasts almost four times the revenue it reported in 2009. Platinum has provided support for SBA acquisition financing, an unsecured line of credit, SBA real estate lending for a large headquarters expansion project, and a variety of business banking services. Chris is not a landscaper by trade; in fact he almost purchased a staffing company instead of Southview Design. Today, he is more than pleased with his choice and with his banking relationship.
“My objective is to build a great company, and it’s kind of touching to work with bankers who are rooting for you. When I call, they actually recognize my voice. It’s extremely convenient and reassuring to speak directly with the shareholders and staff. I have the sense that they’ll always be there for us.”