A Tale of Two Companies

Company 1

The main line of business is the repair and service of large centrifuges for use in the maritime and oil industries. This Company is owned by two individuals who have been business partners for a number of years. To protect each other and assure the Company would be able to remain in business if either individual became disabled or passed away, a buy/sell agreement is in place where by each partner could buy the other partner’s shares in the business. There is insurance in place to assist in this event when and if it occurs. 

Company 2

Company two operates as a furnace rebuilding business. It has been in business a number of years. It has a good client base and has enjoyed much success. However, the Company’s owner has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. 

Problems Encountered 

In Company number one the insurance that was in place to help with the buy/sale event was in the name of the Company; if the policy paid out, it would create an Alternative Minimum Tax issue for the Business as well as a personal tax for the individuals, should if the policy payout be used for the intended purpose. 

The problem in Company number two was twofold. One, the Owner could not get any new insurance; two and the policy that he had in place had large premiums which were becoming difficult to pay due to his medical condition. 

Silver Fox Advisor Involvement 

A Silver Fox Advisor member who has years of experience in the insurance business was able to help both of these Companies with their respective issues.

In Company number one this Silver Fox Advisor did an in-depth complete review of the buy/sell agreement and the insurance policy; he was able to make suggestions to correct the problem at very little cost to the Business Partners. 

In Company number two this Silver Fox Advisor reviewed the insurance policy that was in place and discovered that the policy had a Waiver of Premium clause. Several years of past premiums were able to be covered. In addition, the Business Owner did not have to pay additional premiums’ and the policy remained in force. With these savings, the Business Owner was able to buy insurance to ensure his key employee could keep the business going for his family until they could learn to operate the business or it could be sold.

Conclusions 

When it seems as if the best of times have been turned into the worst of times there just may be a silver lining that achieves a happy ending. Silver Fox Advisors and are available to put their expertise and years of real-world business experiences to help you work through your problems.

Financial Restructuring

Financial Restructuring

COMPANY

Two partners (“Owners”) of a small Houston Company, with $2.0 Million of annual sales and well respected in their trade, found themselves with a severe Internal Revenue Service Problem. 

PROBLEM ENCOUNTERED

Company sales had been stable for several years while overhead continued to grow. Benefits for employees were consistently increased even though margins were narrowing and other overhead costs were increasing. The Owners drew out almost all remaining earnings for their personal salaries. Rising costs and some economic downturn aggravated the cash flow problem and the equity portion of the balance sheet was negative.

Serious problems occurred when the Owners decided to defer the deposit of employee withholding tax for several quarters. The IRS promptly advised them that it was not the Company’s money and that the IRS wanted it now (plus interest and penalties).The payroll tax problem was some $125,000 and growing substantially. 

SILVER FOX ADVISOR INVOLVEMENT

The Owners decided to seek help and called on their local bank for expansion of their line of credit. Due to earnings history, minimal capital, lack of collateral cushion & the IRS problem, the bank was not willing to help. They visited a second bank, then another, and another. Each time, they went away “empty-handed.” The bankers proclaimed their commitment to the local business; however, none was willing to make a loan. The cause seemed hopeless. 

Then, someone advised the Owners to call the Silver Fox Advisors to assist them in resolving the financial dilemma. All too often, small companies “knock” themselves out trying to get bank financing. Bankers play it by the book, and even healthy and promising companies can fail to measure up to a bank’s financial tests, such as a strong debt-to-worth ratio. The point is – If you don’t have the numbers, you don’t get the money!

Not having the “numbers” is precisely the predicament the Owners faced. Because most of the Company’s assets were encumbered by existing loans, the business was not financially attractive on paper. However, this situation belied the fact that it was a first-class facility with a strong clientele in a growing and affluent economic environment.

The objective was to translate the Company’s strength and potential into current financing. The Silver Fox Advisors are skilled at matching cash-starved companies with the appropriate loan sources and they can “tap” a network of financial institutions willing to fund small businesses.

CONCLUSIONS

The first priority was to get “breathing room” from the IRS pressure. A second Silver Fox Advisor, with extended experience in dealing with the IRS, was brought in. The Silver Fox Advisor was able to convince the IRS to accept a new payment plan, buying some time for outside resolution. 

A Silver Fox Advisor prepared and presented a business and funding plan to several banks with, as expected, no success. The Silver Fox Advisor then turned to a branch office of a national Factoring Company active in small business lending. To complete the “puzzle,” the Silver Fox Advisor applied to the Company’s bank for a restructure of existing debt, with no collateral dilution to the bank.

The Factoring Company approved a $400,000 line of credit that provided enough availability for the Company to pay off the IRS. Bank debt was restructured and a four party (Bank, IRS, Factoring Company and Company) understanding was reached. It should be noted that factoring is a very expensive way to fund a small operation but may be required in certain circumstances.

In Summary, the Silver Fox Advisor:

  • Know where the money is, who controls it and how to get it;
  • Have access to a wide range of cost sources, can speed the loan “shopping” process and provide the business plan with better odds of succeeding; and
  • Can identify not only the kind of loan the company may need but also the right institution along with the officer at the institution most likely to approve the financing

The Company was able to get out of its financial predicament, prosper and move out of the Factoring Company arrangement with its related expensive costs and paperwork.

Profit Mentoring

COMPANY

A producer of computer-generated, color-coded labeling systems for magnetic media and file folders (that are used worldwide) wanted to improve the Company’s overall operations and financial performance. The Company in 1974 introduced basic color-coding for media and the system developed is still the most widely used today. 

PROBLEM ENCOUNTERED

The President wanted to improve the Company’s overall operations and financial performance and needed outside objective and constructive assistance to achieve his goals. 

SILVER FOX ADVISOR INVOLVEMENT

Two Silver Fox Advisors evaluated the Company and developed recommendations to improve operating performance and subsequently increase financial profitability. 

CONCLUSIONS

The President of the Company states: 

“We have worked with two Silver Fox Advisors since 1991. They have been most helpful in suggesting solutions to problems in the areas of finance, all phases of marketing, personnel, manufacturing and several other general areas of business. Our satisfaction with their contribution to our success is evidenced by the longevity of our relationship.”

Turnaround and Improving Cash Flow

COMPANY

The Company was a $10 to $13 million per year revenue steel processor that converts flat rolled coils into slit strip and sheets to specific customer requirements. The product line is low added value with raw material a high percentage of revenue. The Company came out of bankruptcy two years ago and was financed by GE Capital as an asset-based lender. The facility is a 100,000 sq. ft. plant for raw material storage and processing equipment. All facilities and equipment are leased. 

PROBLEM ENCOUNTERED

Operating losses were continuing with negative cash flow from the time it was taken out of bankruptcy. However, assets were adequate for loan coverage at the time of the Silver Fox Advisor involvement. Inventory was excessive with little control. Gross margin on sales and the operating expenses indicated that losses would continue unless changes were made. Later in the Silver Fox Advisor’s involvement, GE Capital advised that the account was too small and would no longer provide funding. GE gave the Company a six month notice to pay off the debt. 

SILVER FOX ADVISOR INVOLVEMENT

The first and primary issue was to initiate lower operating expenses; second, to raise the gross margin on sales; and third, to generate positive cash flow. During the first few meetings, management believed that they could work out the situation by increasing sales. Inventory planning was arbitrary and speculative. The Controller was inadequate for the job. Monthly closings took four weeks with little management information. Fixed asset ledgers were incorrect with understated depreciation.

In the first two months, a layoff was made. The Owner took a pay cut. These actions resulted in a 30% reduction in salaries and wages. Other selected expenses were cut. Inventory was worked down. A new Controller was hired and backed up by a CPA Firm, which also performed a year-end review and tax filings. Inventory constraints were imposed using input/output controls. As time progressed, selected prices and gross margins were improved, partly as the result of the economic environment in the steel business.

Following the GE Capital announcement, the Company retained another Silver Fox Advisor who specializes on securing asset-based lenders. The task was difficult but successful; however, at a continuing high borrowing rate. After five months of profits borrowing, costs will be reduced. After one year of Silver Fox Advisor involvement, the results on a comparative first five month’s basis are as follows:

CONCLUSIONS

While the company is not completely out of the “woods” and still has high borrowing costs remaining, it can make a profit. With continuing results, the Company will be bankable and/or saleable within a year.

entrepreneur

Custom Linen Rentals

COMPANY

A 34-year-old wife and mother, working from her home, founded this Company in 2004. Her husband was transferred to Houston having been originally from Connecticut. She could not find catering or rental services to provide original decorative table linen, for her personal use, under $300. An idea was born. With her sewing machine, she decided to try to build a limited inventory of linens to rent for party tables and chairs. By using word of mouth and making cold-call contacts with catering firms and hotels, it became a business. 

PROBLEM ENCOUNTERED

Four years later, the Owner’s business had grown to $700,000 in annual revenues, and they had moved to a 3500+ sq. ft. office/warehouse complex. In 2009, the Owner had “maxed out” and was rushing to find larger space. The Owner did not understand the warehouse market, and did not now specific requirements or size needed for the new facility. This is when a Silver Fox Advisor was called. 

SILVER FOX ADVISOR INVOLVEMENT

The Silver Fox Advisor was engaged in April 2009 and performed a current Company assessment. From data available, a projection was made, concluding with 5-year requirements. It was determined that a minimum of 9,000 sq. ft. to 11,000 sq. ft. of space was required. Because the business was growing fast, one requirement was to increase the capacity and speed of the laundry processing within the existing facility. This was resolved by establishing two 8-hour shifts during peak months of May-June, and November-December. In addition, the development of a product flow chart helped define space allocations for specific job requirements. Available facilities were located nearby and a move was executed in June of 2009. Simultaneously, efforts to project staffing, inventory, and machinery requirements were underway to provide a clear business plan for growth through 2014. 

In September 2009, it was time for the Owner to execute the new business plan without close guidance. By December 2010, the business had grown to $2,000,000 in annualized revenues, with another level of growth to contemplate. The Silver Fox Advisor re-entered to assist with engineering methods to expand into national sales. Plans have now been formulated and are being executed for a 2011 result of $2,500,000. A revised business plan now targets $10,000,000 in 5 years. 

CONCLUSIONS

Building a senior management team is underway. The Silver Fox Advisor’s role during this phase is to be a sounding board by challenging thoughts and processes before action is taken, review the results after action, and provide management training when and where needed. The Silver Fox Advisor was working with an exceptional Owner and Leader. The Silver Fox Advisor played a supporting role and will help make the Owner’s goals achievable.

This Case Study confirms an important lesson: 

A good Mentor must permit the Entrepreneur to fly “solo,” while monitoring his/her progress. The opportunity for the Entrepreneur to learn from his/her mistakes, and then working through those situations, builds self-confidence. 

This company is one example of what an Entrepreneur can do starting with a piece of cloth.

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