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During hard economic times, teamwork and business advising save the day

All-Safe Pool Safety – Orange, California

Reed Hauge, COO and second-generation owner of All-Safe Pool Safety, on weathering the Great Recession with the help of financial coaching …

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Reed Hauge: Our company name is All-Safe Pool Safety Products and we manufacture and install swimming pool safety products such as pool fences and pool covers, pool alarms — anything that keeps little children out of the swimming pool. And our latest product is actually a clear, acrylic dance floor that we put over a pool for events such as weddings and birthday parties. I came aboard in ‘97 and my parents founded the company  my mom and dad.

Marsh Hauge: I’m Marsh Hauge.

Helen Hauge: Hi my name is Helen, I’m Reed’s mother and one of the founders of All-Safe.

Reed Hauge: They founded it in 1992. So actually getting somewhat close to our 20th year in business, which is really exciting. When I came aboard in ‘97, we actually were right across the street from where we’re at right now. And we were renting I think it was about a thousand square foot office space, with a little bit of warehouse space in the back.

And we outgrew that pretty fast. Luckily, the unit next to us was available so we rented that one as well. Outgrew that, rented the one next to it so then we had three eventually we had four. They weren’t all together, then had five and we just kept outgrowing our space. So we decided that it was time to go ahead and see if we can purchase a building.

So we came across the 504 program and the great thing about that is you don’t have to have nearly as big of a down payment. And because it’s backed by the SBA, the qualifications are easier and you don’t have to have as long of a history of, you know, good financials. We were OK, but we just didn’t have everything we needed so the 504 allowed us to get into a building at a time we couldn’t have otherwise.

Well, when the recession hit, when the economy started going downhill, it was really difficult for us. We had been having growth for close to 10 years in a row. We didn’t know anything other than better each year. And for the first time ever, things slowed down; our revenue declined, profitability went way down. It was a real, real challenging time and at first we I think like a lot of people were in denial about it. We didn’t really think it was happening. We weren’t even really aware it was happening. And then became clear that it was and then we kept thinking that, “Well things are going to turn around, they’re going to get better, they can’t stay, you know, how they are right now for very long.”

Leah Giltner, of CDC Small Business Finance: They came to us, they were an up-and-growing business, had been doing very well moving to the next level. Hence, they had acquired their third property and then the recession hit and the bottom fell out. And they weren’t the only business affected by this. And so they had made tons of strategic plans in-house trying to go but it got to a point in time where they needed they needed help.They needed to know what can we do to make the next level.

Reed: As a small business owner, there’s always opportunities to feel like it’s time to throw in the towel. That’s just, that’s just normal. There’s not a small business owner out there who hasn’t had those thoughts from time to time. When the economy went sideways and we started having challenges making our payments, those thoughts definitely creep in. And if you don’t get the right messages, the right advice, and the right support from your friends, your family, your employees, your customers and your bank, you know, that’s what causes people to finally give up on it.

Leah: Gone are the days where there’s just a square box and everybody can play inside those boundaries. There are so many things that aren’t what they were yesterday that we all have to take a step outside of that box. And I’ve found most often that the third-party lenders feel that SBA is going to be even stricter or more tied into that box than even they are. And when they realize that no there are some avenues outside of that and you know we still have to cross our Ts and dot our Is but SBA is open to all kinds of suggestions and all kinds of workouts. And so we just you don’t ask the question, you don’t get the answer

Reed: So there’s a lot of people involved in the process but Leah and Chuck…

Chuck Sinks: I’m Chuck Sinks with Pacific Community Ventures.

Reed:…Made a huge difference and was really nice. He was an independent third party who we could call and talk to and provide numbers to and spreadsheets and he worked with us sort of like a coach. It was nice in that he was removed enough from the situation that we trusted.

Chuck: Well I was called in — or PCV — was called in to the All-Safe Pools case and it was probably in the summer of 2010. I think one of the key things with in Reid’s situation was the teamwork. I mean, Leah is obviously a pro’s pro at what she does and she did, you know, handle that end of the issue or the challenge by restructuring the loan, working diligently with the SBA and getting that piece of the deal done.

In the meantime, I could coach Reed within his business operations and Reed, of course, was very patient. He was organized so it was really a team approach. There was cooperation between the first-trustee lender, the CDC, the SBA, PCV and the business owner. And all of those pieces of the puzzle came together nicely to make this a successful outcome.

Reed: The support that we got made the difference. It was absolutely fantastic.

Helen: And without them we wouldn’t be where we are today. And we expect to be very successful in the future just because of what they did for us.

Reed: Thank you Leah, everything that you did to help us was absolutely incredible. I know how hard you worked and how much effort it took. We’re really, really thankful for Leah. So thank you Chuck, if you’re out there, appreciate all the help you gave us, it was fantastic.

We’re stable. We’re going to be profitable this year, which is really exciting. But we feel very confident. We’ve made it through the tough times. And we’re back to focusing on making the product better, saving children’s lives out there, giving parents and grandparents peace of mind. So all in all, the future for All-Safe is looking really good.

Leah: Keep up the great work and I’m so proud of you and so proud of your organization that I just wish you the best of luck in these coming years.

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