The Client: Independent Television Services, Inc. (“ITVS”)
ITVS funds, presents, and promotes award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television and cable, innovative new media projects on the Web, and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series “Independent Lens”. ITVS was created by independent producers, the media arts community, and not for profits seeking to foster plurality, diversity, and innovation in public television. In 1988, Congress mandated the creation of a service dedicated to independently produced programming that takes creative risks, sparks public dialogue, and gives voice to under served communities. ITVS funded its first wave of programs in 1991, introduced its national community engagement project in 1999, and internationalized in 2005 with the Global Perspectives Project.
Judy Tam, the COO & CFO of ITVS, was faced a dilemma that had many causes.
The nationally known, multi Emmy Award-winning independent documentary champion had an expiring lease to deal with. Rents in San Francisco, where it is located, had skyrocketed to levels far beyond the financial capabilities of many companies, let alone a nonprofit organization. As the key decision-maker for ITVS, the importance of making a timely selection of a new site within San Francisco had to be balanced with the reality of obtaining financing.
Ms. Tam immediately recognized that in the current commercial real estate market that a lease renewal was simply not going to happen. “Frankly, nonprofit organizations are being priced out of the market,” she pointed out. For many, funding sources are often limited. Capital campaigns take a long time and the need for a new ITVS home was rapidly approaching. At the same time, banks, a traditional funding source, often place nonprofits far down on their priority list.
The additional challenge for ITVS was that the loan Ms. Tam was looking for, a ten-year fixed rate, non recourse, unsecured seven figure loan to finance the build out of their new space, was outside the normal range and type of loan that most commercial banks would consider.
As a valuable community resource and a highly-regarded partner of documentary producers and the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), she knew that there had to be a solution, but it might not be easy. She needed a “business partner.”
Enter Bob Lussier, the then new CEO/president of Trans Pacific National Bank (TPNB), which though a small community bank, had worked with ITVS for more than 15 years. It was a case of serendipity to the nth degree according to Judy.
“Bob called to introduce himself at the moment when we had a need to find a new home for our offices,” she said. “I have always been a proponent of working with a local bank which was interested in the community. While I knew that there were larger banks to talk with, I didn’t want to be shuffled off to a branch manager who ultimately couldn’t make decisions or be my partner. At the same time, I understood that our need might be greater than the normal loan limits of a community bank.”
From Bob’s perspective, ITVS was a long-time client of the Bank, a valuable community asset and the kind of organization that deserved a financial ally. “We have considerable expertise in real estate and have deep understanding of the market but most importantly we value our relationships,” he said. “Here was a client with an immediate need and we were committed to finding a way to get the job done for them.”
The solution came together quickly. A new site was found; a loan that met the needs of ITVS was approved by TPNB, and a lease was negotiated and signed. The building was built out and ITVS moved into its new space in July 2016.
“It was our synergy that made it happen,” according to Judy, “It wasn’t about just getting a competitive rate, it was about a relationship built on trust and shared desire to get the job done.” For Bob, “it was about a customer that faced a very difficult task and our job was to understand their needs, work with them to take care of those needs while making it as easy and cost-effective as possible. It is our hallmark as a community bank: As the business bank with a personal touch we commit the resources and the senior management expertise to turn a dilemma into a successful solution.”
ITVS, which funds and champions independent films by and about under-represented people, will be able to continue to help filmmakers tackle complex issues that inspire civic dialogue to strengthen democracy and humanity while maintaining its presence in San Francisco.
TPNB, true to the mission of a community bank, will continue to serve as a partner to small and medium-sized businesses and organizations by providing valuable services built on relationships and a desire to help its customers succeed.
Chairs for Affairs/Eventfully Yours
The Client: Chairs for Affairs/Eventfully Yours
Eventfully Yours Event Designs, established in 2013 as an event coordination company, acquired Chairs for Affairs in 2015 in order to provide more comprehensive services to its growing client base. Sisters and co-owners Kendra McMasters and Rayna Hess bring more than a decade of event planning experience to the company, which successfully serves the needs of corporate clients, brides and amateur party planners all over the East Bay as well as Marin County.
Chairs for Affairs, while not the largest party rental business in the area, has grown significantly in the past year by delivering the highest level of professional and personal services to other event planners, families and individuals, and to venues and suppliers. Ms. McMasters and Ms. Hess involve themselves in every aspect of the business, drawing on their business experience and a deep commitment to personal service, budget controls and the end product, a perfect experience for their clients and their guests.
They and their staff are conscientious event specialists who work to ensure that visions come in on budget. Because Eventfully Yours and Chairs for Affairs are a family, the Company can provide event planning services, print design services, vendor recommendations as well all the equipment required to ensure a successful occasion.
Kendra and Rayna, after arranging rentals from Chairs for Affairs for several years, became aware that the company was for sale in 2015. Realizing that the acquisition presented an opportunity to expand the services of Eventfully Yours, they approached their bank to seek funding. After dealing with “tons of paperwork,” as they described it during a six-week process, they realized that the bank was not going to approve the loan.
They turned to a credit union and also to the business broker who was managing the acquisition process. More time went by, the escrow closing deadline was rapidly approaching and the sisters still did not have a loan commitment. They asked the broker to look for an alternative. They were quickly introduced to Michael De Vivo, EVP/chief credit officer of Trans Pacific National Bank (TPNB). He stepped in, recognizing the fast-approaching closing date as well as the uniqueness of the situation. The other financial institutions had turned them away, feeling that the sisters lacked enough equity for a business acquisition. The banks were reluctant because Eventfully Yours was a young company. But De Vivo knew that this was a situation that called for a more enlightened approach. He and Bank CEO, Bob Lussier met with the sisters and took the time to figure out how to structure a loan that worked for them.
“We didn’t qualify,” Kendra says. “We were new and we were not in an industry that most banks were willing to take a risk on. It seemed to us that no one at the other places that we approached thought creatively or gave us credit for our past business successes.
“Trans Pacific was different. They wanted to find a way to make it work; they recognized that my sister and I had begun to build a very successful company and that we had been successful in our previous business careers.”
Lussier has a different perspective about a bank’s role in supporting small businesses and building local economies. It manifests itself in how his staff works with customers with the goal of making a transaction happen rather than trying to find ways to make the process more difficult. The fact that an EVP stepped in to bring the loan to fruition is another hallmark of the Bank.
“Our management is empowered to find solutions,” he says. “We understand acquisitions and real estate and the fact that not every prospective customer is going to be a cookie cutter fit. In the case of Kendra and Rayna, we saw effective managers who were growing their company and who had in their sights a business that was a perfect fit for their vision. As a community bank, we see that our role is to encourage and to work with businesses like that, not to turn them away.”
How has it worked out? The Company continues to grow, adding customers and becoming the vendor of choice for an increasing number of corporate clients and venues. It is already looking at additional space and more delivery vehicles as requirements for its larger business and footprint are evident.
TPNB, true to the mission of a community bank, will continue to serve as a partner to small and medium-sized businesses and organizations, such as Eventfully/Chairs for Affairs, by providing valuable services built on relationships and a desire to help its customers succeed.