This is a series of stories highlighting credit unions making small business loans in Missouri. Credit unions in each region are urged to call and email our U.S. Senators in support of S. 2231, sharing stories about the people who are helping small businesses grow, and the small business owners who benefit when they have more financial options. St. Louis Chapter: Make Senate contacts by calling 1-877-642-4223, by using the Grassroots Action Center and/or in person, highlighting the small business lending efforts of Alliance Credit Union and asking for support of S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act.
Alliance Credit Union started in 1948, serving the employees of Emerson Electric. Today, it has grown to a $185 million credit union with six branches in the St. Louis region serving more than one hundred businesses and people who live in eight counties in Missouri and Illinois.
The first credit union in the state to be approved as a Small Business Administration (SBA) lender in 2004, Alliance Credit Union focuses on helping small business owners. Most businesses served by Alliance employ five to ten employees, and are looking to expand their operations or grow their location.
“As an SBA approved lender, the added flexibility has helped us to serve our small business owner/members. We are committed to helping small businesses succeed by providing much needed access to capital with exceptional personal service,” said Dennis Sommer, President/CEO.
Due to the member business lending cap of 12.25%, Alliance Credit Union is no longer advertising business lending. But they continue to work with the business owners they have served and helped develop thriving operations. Here are just a few examples of the businesses that Alliance Credit Union serves:
A termite infestation in the basement, moles in the backyard, crabgrass taking over the front lawn – these aren’t issues that normally make people think about business loans. But in the case of Rottler Pest and Lawn Solutions, it does.
Nearly 30 years ago, Fred Rottler and his wife, Ann, turned to Alliance Credit Union for their small lawn and pest control company’s finances after being frustrated with their bank. With Alliance Credit Union’s help, Rottler has grown from a small storefront in north St. Louis County with a few employees and service trucks, to a company with five locations, a fleet of vehicles and more than seventy employees. The company is now run by Fred and Ann’s sons, Gary and Mike.
In 2005, Alliance Credit Union partnered with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to fund a new headquarters for Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions. The new 16,000 square foot building in north St. Louis County was needed to help manage their growth. The new headquarters was open in 2006, and allowed the company to expand into new areas.
“We decided a long time ago that we liked the credit union for managing our money,” says Gary Rottler. “We’re not just customers, we’re members. So, when we make a loan, we’re investing in ourselves and in our community.”
The Nguyen family opened Lemon Grass Restaurant in 1998, serving Vietnamese cuisine. After renting for six years, the family wanted to purchase a larger restaurant with a bigger kitchen and more seating for customers. The Nguyens turned to Alliance Credit Union and in 2004, received a loan to purchase a building at 3161 South Grand Boulevard in St. Louis. It was the first SBA guaranteed loan to a Missouri state-chartered credit union.
The Nguyens make a promise to their customers that also could also be applied to credit unions. “Our family promise is to please our customers with each and every visit and to offer quality service, personal care and great value at prices that anyone can afford.”
Since 1988, Brannan’s Marine and Motorsports has sold and repaired boats, motors, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Owner Dennis Brannan, who also serves as the chief mechanic and primary salesman, turned to Alliance Credit Union to help finance the purchase of the 3,200 square foot store in Fenton, Missouri. The original loan was seven years ago, and the credit union recently refinanced Brannan’s operation.
“Even in the face of slowing recreational business during the severe economic downturn, Alliance had no hesitation in refinancing this commercial property loan because of our close association with the owner and a good understanding of his business,” explains Alliance Credit Union President/CEO Dennis Sommer.
St. Louis Chapter credit unions: Make contacts by phone, by email, and/or in person on April 25, highlighting the small business lending efforts of Alliance and asking for support of S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act.