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The Power of Relationships

Success Leads to New Challenges

In 2014, ID Signsystems—a local sign designer, fabricator, and installer for retail, healthcare, and institutional clientele around the world—began experiencing unprecedented growth. During this time, the company turned to its financial institution to navigate the challenges of rapid development and the fiscal planning needed to sustain it. However, it didn’t take the company leadership long to realize that the relationship with its long-time lender wasn’t working.

“We were just being passed along from manager to manager,” said ID Signsystems President, Paul Dudley. “We didn’t feel like we had a partner. We felt like we were just another customer to them.”

ID Signsystems then turned to its accounting firm, RDG+ Partners, which stepped up to help the company with its growth plan.

“Most people think that the sole purpose of an accountant is to help with taxes,” said John Rizzo, managing partner at RDG. “But we believe in bringing all our financial expertise to the table to help our clients reach their goals. In doing this, we recognized that ID Signsystems was in need of a different finance structure altogether.”

Rizzo recommended that ID Signsystems reach out to ESL Federal Credit Union.

“Because of our relationship with ESL, we were able to confidently point ID Signsystems to a great resource—we knew ESL would be a great solution for them, given their plans for growth,” said Rizzo.

Conducting thorough due-diligence, ID Signsystems interviewed three different financial institutions before deciding to work with ESL. The decision, they said, was based on ESL’s flexibility and sense of community.

“Unlike the other institutions, ESL best understood the challenges of a small business and were prepared to work with us to meet our individual need,” according to Dudley. “Given the nature of our business, we often front the cost of our projects. With ESL’s help, we were able to maintain our strong cash flow even as we continued to get more and more business.”

Partnerships Lead to New Growth

Fast-forward four years later to 2018, when ID Signsystems won a multi-million-dollar project from a major international retailer, requiring the company to take a completely different look at its financial strategy. The project was heavily cash-focused on the frontend: ID Signsystems not only needed money for the materials, but to purchase a larger facility for production.

Thanks to ID Signsystems’ strong relationship with ESL, the financial institution helped the business extend its line of credit, allowing ID Signsystems to purchase a new facility and, in turn, produce the project in just four months. Being able to fulfill the large order—and to do so efficiently—impressed the retailer, winning ID Signsystems a long-term customer.

ID Signsystems has doubled the size of its business since its relationship with ESL began five years ago, and the company continues to see sustained growth, allowing the company to be more profitable than ever before.

The Bottom Line

The power of relationships is important for any business, but especially for small businesses.

“Our banking relationship is one of our most important relationships, so we try to be very communicative with our team at ESL,” said Dudley. “We think of ESL as part of our team; whenever we’re in a planning phase, we keep ESL close to make sure there are no surprises.”

According to Dudley, one of the most important factors to look for when choosing a lender is to find one that is prepared to invest the time into your individual business.

“You should look for a banking partner who is willing to work with you and who understands the nature of your specific business,” said Dudley. “Forging that individual relationship enables you to be more productive and to plan your future more carefully.”

The relationship between accounting firms and financial institutions is just as important.

“When it comes to helping our customers grow their business, that’s when we pull in partners like RDG,” said John Cirella, senior relationship manager of business banking at ESL. “It’s crucial for us to know that we have the proper support from the CPA firm, and vice versa.”

The bottom line?

“Look for a proactive advisor,” said Dudley. “You want someone who cares.”