Back in March, things were heating up for small businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing and the economic lockdown was relatively new. Understandably, many of us business owners were staring down a whole lot of uncertainty.
Regardless of what you may think about the Paycheck Protection Plan (better known as PPP), we are a poster business for this program. As we prepare for loan forgiveness, it’s become very clear how important this program is to the health of our country and our company.
Right on Target
Currently we are right on target for 100 percent forgiveness. PPP worked beautifully! It kept all our crews on the job. We ramped up quickly on how to manage things under the appropriate guidelines.
Although the PPP process seems to be changing daily, every modification I’ve seen so far has been to our benefit. I believe the intent of the Government is, it wants all of the loans to be forgiven. And if not forgiven, any fund balance would be at a 1 percent interest rate, which is almost unheard of.
We were a little bit more conservative with our application request amount as we wanted to set ourselves in the best position for the approval. We also didn’t want to overborrow and take on too much debt. We’re especially grateful to Associated Bank for guiding Sign Effectz, Inc., Co-Owner Rick Rossetti and myself through the loan process. They did an incredible job at helping keep us on the right track.
What’s Happening to Our Top and Bottom Lines?
We, like many others, took a lump on the chin this year. Because of the economic shut down, our sales were down about 50 percent in March and April, but PPP allowed us to maintain our cash flow without having to send employees home.
We’ve tightened our belt like everyone else but in very strategic areas and were allowed to keep our team together. We found that customers were holding back on purchases due to an uncertain future. That was a big factor in those two down months.
I’m happy to report that our sales team exceeded our forecasts in May. Trending wise, looking at year-to-date sales revenue, we’re in a good position so far.
Our company goal is always growth, not survival. That means we’re targeting to invest money back into the system. Money doesn’t belong under the mattress. We’ll invest in equipment and people. Some of those investment funds will continue to go into ADA signage manufacturing, replacing at least one machine and/or truck, upgrade our IT, and bring another salesperson on by the end of the year. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us and our customers.
Silver linings and opportunities through disparity is the philosophy. We’ll also continue to market our architectural and building components, like sun control devices and canopies. We expect our additional automated lead generators in the construction world to produce great results.
Thanks to the Paycheck Protection Program, these initiatives didn’t have to be put on the back burner.
2020 is going to go down in history. People are going to shake their heads and wonder what the heck it was like to live through that. Perhaps it’ll be akin to the economic devastation of the Great Depression.
However, my prediction is our overall economy is going to be much stronger when we come out of this.
Rick and I salute all the employees that kept working through the pandemic. Our employees are the biggest asset this company has. We set them up as best we could to help put their mind at ease with PPE, safety guidelines, etc.
I can’t say enough about how well the PPP worked for us and I hope it served others as well.
The PPP also helped me keep my head on straight. It allowed me to focus on what needed to be done managing the company through a crisis. It helped prevent a lot of stress for us not having to worry as much about cash flow.
Also, we’ve worked diligently to create a great culture here. It shows in how well we retain employees. We stand behind them and didn’t want to lose the great work culture we have here.
Obviously we’re not done with Covid-19. Concerns over a second and third wave are real. Anxiety and uncertainty still present challenges. However, we’ve established how to manage the business better in these challenging situations. The reality is, at some point you must come out of the foxhole and move forward. As we can all imagine, it’s not easy coming out of a foxhole!
You can’t stay pinned down forever. Determination supersedes fear. Our determination to move forward takes on a whole new momentum. The virus is a bully that we need to stand up to. And the PPP gives us business owners the tool to stand up to that bully. It helped us get our wits about us and ready for the next round. The Paycheck Protection Program was the trainer during the heavyweight boxing match, and businesses like ours are in the eighth round of the fight—a fight we are determined to win!
Adam Brown is president of Sign Effectz, Inc., a custom artistic-based sign company located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.