Fostering Relationships, Business Growth With Strategic Planning
Photography by Tony Tribble
“Banking isn’t just about money,” says David Stringer a commercial lending officer at MainSource Bank. “It’s about building relationships and fostering trust with clients when they need help the most. We sell our expertise and experience in order to earn a trusted advisor status with our clients in order to help them grow and reduce risks.”
“It’s extremely important to have that personal relationship with your clients. At the end of the day, it’s really a people business.”
MainSource, which specializes in middle-market clients, is a subsidiary of MainSource Financial Group. They entered the Cincinnati market in 2013, and Stringer was there as they opened the loan office in December of that year.
“You want to deal with good businesses run by good people who have a good reputation,” he says. “It helps the bank build its portfolio and its reputation in the community.”
They’re still fairly new in the market, so they don’t have a lot of branches – “there’s a couple on the West Side (of Cincinnati) and one in Hyde Park,” Stringer says.
But new technology means they don’t need bricks-and-mortar branches on every corner, he says. They provide scanners and software that let their commercial customers scan in checks from customers and deposit them almost immediately without ever leaving their office.
The tech is “key” to building business in a new market, Stringer says.
Small business keeps growingwith ‘invaluable’ help
APTech Group has employees and customers all over the world. But they like to keep their banking local, says controller Katie Lee. “We prefer smaller, local banks, since we’re a small business,”Lee says.
For the last few years, the Blue Ash firm that manufactures water treatment products in solid form has worked with MainSource
“They’re easily available. They really treat you well and are very easy to get in touch with and they provide us with what we need,” she says. Stringer had worked with the company in a previous role at another bank.
The relationship, she says, is “invaluable. I’m so happy that I can pick up the phone and call and they respond within minutes.”
Technology that lets Lee and her colleagues scan checks and make deposits from their desktops also saves time going back and forth to the bank.
As a small business that keeps growing, the company faces the usual problems: Sometimes money has to go out faster than it comes in. Stringer and his team have studied the business and come up with solutions that help the company’s cash flow keep flowing and pay for upgrades to its Blue Ash plant.
“It’s cyclical. We sell more cooling tower products so summer is our big season,” Lee says.
The recent economic downturn that hit many businesses hard, especially in the construction sector, didn’t affect APTech Group as much. But it did hit some of their customers, Lee says. Fuel prices also play a role, since that ups the cost of doing business as they ship products out and raw materials in.
APTech Group has been nominated for the EPA’s 2007 and 2010 Presidential Green Chemistry Award and has been on Inc. 500/5000 list of the fastest growing privately held companies the past five consecutive years. APTech Group has also been a finalist in the Cincinnati Business Courier Green Awards and several local chamber of commerce business award competitions.
Technology helps track dollars, cents, profit
Kenneth Grause was 16 when he started working for his father, who sold tile, cement, sand and other building supplies in Bellevue, Kentucky.
It was 1971. By the end of that decade, he and his wife were the owners of the business, then called Bellevue Home Improvement Center.
More than 40 years later, Grause owns and operates two home improvement centers – the original in Bellevue and a second location in Alexandria, Kentucky. Pilot Lumber Do It Center sells building supplies and composite decking and porch material.
“Every day’s a challenge. Every day’s different. You meet a lot of good people in the lumber business,” he says.
He faces the same cash flow problem many small business owners struggle with: He needs money to buy new inventory before his customers pay him for the lumber or decking they’ve already hauled to the job site, and those few weeks in between can be “interesting.”
And his business is seasonal, with sales slowing during cold weather months. He’s also shifted more of his business to contractors, rather than weekend warriors and do-it-yourselfers.
“I’d always been told by my father, ‘If you watch the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves,’” he says.
MainSource Bank helps take care of the dollars and cents with loans and other provisions. Stringer and his team also hooked Grause up with the technology to scan in checks and make deposits remotely from his office. The money shows up in the business’s account almost immediately.
“I save a lot of time not driving to the bank,” Grause says, who added he’s “not a big fan of hardware.”
Grause had also worked with Stringer before through a different bank. “He’s a bright young man. He knows the business,” he says.
In Cincinnati, MainSource Bank is located at 100 E Business Way, Cincinnati, OH 45241. To contact MainSource Bank, call David Stringer at 513-259-2624, or e-mail him at email@example.com.