Fate intervened for Brian Lahr and Tod Welsh in 2010.
The owners of Supreme Lawn and Landscaping in Waite Park, Minnesota, were looking at switching financial institutions after becoming disenchanted with the relationship they had with their bank at the time.
Stearns Bank SBA lender Isaac Flenner came knocking at their door and Brian and Tod came away impressed with the discussion that took place.
“We gave Isaac a chance when we needed an SBA loan and the turnaround time was impressive,” Brian said. “Our previous SBA loans took forever to complete. Everyone at Stearns Bank was friendly and outgoing right from the beginning. They responded in a timely manner, which was something we really appreciated.”
Brian began Supreme Lawn and Landscaping in 1990 and then formed a partnership with Tod in 1992. That partnership has led to a thriving business that includes landscaping, lawn maintenance and snow removal services. Supreme Lawn and Landscaping is not only one of the oldest, but one of the most respected grounds maintenance providers in Central Minnesota.
Coming Through When Needed
When Brian knew he needed two new pickups in the summer of 2017 to keep up with demand, he made a call to Isaac to see what the financing would look like. After doing some comparison shopping, Brian knew that Stearns Bank could get him the pickup faster than any other financial institution.
► Turning to a lender you have a previous relationship with can speed up the loan approval process
► Find a lender that you trust to deliver for you when you need a loan in a pinch
► A complete relationship with a financial institution helps you keep all of your accounts and loans in one convenient place
“I met with him in the morning, did the paperwork and by noon I had an answer. Other banks and credit unions have to have a meeting of their board of directors before they can approve a loan to see if they want to take the risk. I needed a truck now, not in two weeks,” Brian said.
“Isaac really pulled through for us. If Stearns Bank hadn’t approved our loan, we would have had to turn down work. That’s not what you want to do in the landscaping world.”
Brian foresees needing additional equipment in the future. When he knows the timing is right, he’ll be making another call to Isaac. Supreme Lawn and Landscaping has financed everything from trucks and wheel loaders with Stearns Bank to renovations of their office building.
“Isaac and Stearns Bank have always come through for us,” Brian said.
Added Tod: “When we do a deal with Stearns Bank, I sign the paperwork and I’m out the door. Brian and I don’t have to come in together, either. Stearns Bank lets you do it on your own time. It’s literally less than 30 minutes and you’re out the door.”
A Complete Relationship
Supreme Lawn and Landscaping has not only done SBA loans with Stearns Bank, but also holds savings and checking accounts with them. That kind of complete relationship is something that both Brian and Tod value. They also value the personal customer service they receive every time they enter the St. Cloud branch.
“It’s always a friendly environment when we walk into the bank in St. Cloud,” Brian said. “You get a hello from everyone and they know your name and take the time to talk to you for a few minutes. We both enjoy going in there.”
Stearns Bank has returned the favor to Supreme Lawn and Landscaping by hiring it to take care of the St. Cloud branch’s lawn maintenance and snow removal needs.
“That reciprocation is very much appreciated,” Brian said. “We’re both local businesses and I always believe that you should help each other out. I’m a pretty loyal person. Once I’m with someone, I’m with them a long time.”
For Tod, it boils down to the way he and Brian are treated.
“I value walking into a bank where people are smiling at you,” he said. “Stearns Bank employees are open and friendly. We would recommend any small business owner to work with Stearns Bank.”