Bankers Leap Pizza With Everything

July 17, 2006
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When Steve and Trisha Wilson wanted to expand their restaurant from pizza delivery to full-service, they had trouble getting help from larger banks.

After going to United Bank, they found what they needed in Vice President John Figg, who helped them secure a loan to move their business, Big Bob’s Pizza, from the Ottawa Hills neighborhood to GaslightVillage in East Grand Rapids. Once they were in their new location, the Wilsons returned to United Bank and were able to get, with Figg’s help, an SBA loan to further grow their business, installing a bar and acquiring a liquor license.

Today, Steve Wilson said the business has increased between 200 percent and 250 percent, compared to its former location and the staff has gone from five to 27.

“Without United Bank, we wouldn’t have grown, we wouldn’t have created more jobs,” he said.

The restaurant now serves East Grand Rapids, downtown Grand Rapids and the Southeast side, offering delivery as well as dine-in and carry-out homemade food and a “small town” feel, Steve Wilson said.

“It doesn’t surprise me that they are a success,” Figg said. “They had a plan and they had a goal, and they are achieving that.”

Figg said the Wilsons had everything he looks for when helping a company get a loan for a business.

“You could just tell by meeting them they were willing to roll up their sleeves and work 10-, 15-hour days,” he said. “They weren’t going to sit and let other people work for them and hopefully make a go of the business; they were going to make the business go themselves.”

To determine if a business is eligible for a loan, Figg said, he looks at the financial history, the ability to service a debt, the product or service and it’s viability, as well as the capability of  the individuals running the business. Figg said with small businesses, those that fail are those with poor managers.

“The people that make it are the ones that aren’t absentee managers; they’re there all the time taking pride in their work,” he said.

That pride was apparent in the Wilsons, Figg said.

“I saw them as two very diligent, hardworking young people and I knew they would succeed, just because they had the motivation to work hard and have this thing work.”     

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