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Jun 08, 2022 View:

a Bank To Avoid

At this point I cannot suggest a bank to approach for funding a startup, but I can definitely urge that no sane person wanting to start or expand a distillery ever considers using BB&T. On some misguided recommendations we started with them, and four months later here is a synopsis of our results:

BB&T - Thanks, that should be all we need.

Us - (Later) - Hello? So where do we stand?

BB&T - We need some additional information.

Us - (actual sample BB&T responses) It's on page 1 of our financial summary. That is on the second page of our business plan, just after the cover page - ya can't miss it. We sent that to you two months ago. Etc. etc. etc. etc.

BB&T - Thanks, that should be all we need. Rinse and Repeat.

Last week it was stated that we had not proven competence with the process at hand to be successful. I reviewed the summary already provided (imagine that), starting with my 3 engineering degrees, cutting my engineering teeth in oil refinery cracking towers in a process generally known as fractional distillation. I also confessed to having worked closely with a father-in-law moonshiner of renown, only recognizing him as such now by name since his demise. My 40 years of efforts also included 20 of fermenting - beer, wine, and mead, and frolicking at working adult beverage distilleries in four states and three countries, plus ADI hosted training, plus the availability of consultants (included in our financial plan) through our still manufacturer. The phrase "this ain't rocket science" was also used (I am not a rocket scientist, but some of my satellite communications equipment is still orbiting up yonder).

BB&T - We need some additional information.

Us - Expletives deleted.

Shortly we will officially "fire" BB&T. The City that has anxiously awaited our startup also uses BB&T, and they will likely "fire" them as well (they have not been terribly happy with them either, but this debacle precipitated the move). We are fortunate to have my wife's cousin as our third partner. He has established six physician-owned hospitals in Texas, and employs my wife (a recovering attorney) as his lobbyist in our state, to consider opening others here. BB&T had been under consideration for those projects, we made that crystal clear up front, they amazingly showed no interest, and that is now off their table as well.

In my long professional career, when I began any new project I made every effort to learn at least the basics of what was expected before forging ahead (DUH). Four months later and BB&T still can barely spell "distillery." Avoid them like the plague. Two days after deciding to dump BB&T and we now have two viable bank clamoring for our business, so we will start anew on Monday.


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Sorry to hear that.

I hope you don't have any trouble with you local gov'ment, I know Atlanta is a toughie, from what I've heard from a couple of the fellows I'm working with.

The local scene is picking up somewhat with Old 4th opening up and American Spirits waiting for stills to arrive mid-year. Another fellow in Atlanta is coming along as well, name slips my mind, think he's in Mid'town.

I've got pictures from the last system over in CT, if you want me to send them over (they bought one of Trident's mash coolers).

Good luck on your progress.

Mike


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I've dealt the BB&T in the past. The rep I had was not really competent and was pretty unprofessional to boot. The only money I have left with them is my mortgage because its at 2.75%.


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Thanks, MG and Mott - we have been citizen activist types in our local city and county governments for many years now, and they have been absolutely great in gently competing for the selection of our location. The city we have chosen is now assisting us with the replacement bank selection. I have been in direct contact with the BB&T CEO, and he appears to be completely clueless regarding the abject incompetence that we have observed. I have expressed that this buck stops with him, period. Made me feel better, anyway.

I take much of the blame for this mess, as I relied solely upon personal recommendations rather than doing the homework for myself. I have just realized the ultimate idiocy of the last round of questions from BB&T, including what we expected the payback period to be. I'd have thought that to be more of, oh, say maybe a "DAY ONE" question, but what the heck do I know. That was the issue that we responded to with "It's on page 1 of our financial summary" - which we had provided FOUR MONTHS EARLIER.

Hopefully attached is one of the most striking of numerous similar reviews of BB&T that I found online ("mybanktracker.com") - eerily similar to our experience. Anyway, I'm posting this in an effort to sternly warn those that follow. BB&T - run away - run far - run fast - never look back!


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I don't know...personal recommendations are often more reliable than anonymous online reviews. Most satisfied customers don't bother to write that. Regardless, glad you're getting it sorted out.


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Mott - actually, the awful reviews (of BB&T) were only found AFTER we had spun our wheels by following the recommendation of an excellent highly placed elected official that we have known for 20 years. I have made direct contact with some of the BB&T review posters and they have turned out to be thoroughly credible and highly informative with the anonymity removed. Yesterday we spoke with two other banks, including one that has experience with brewery funding. It's way too early to call, but we are heavily leaning toward that one, as they have already clearly demonstrated that they have many clues that none of the others have shown or even seemed interested in having. That one came from a referral via a major "mover and shaker" in our part of Georgia, and the corresponding online reviews closely follow what we have seen from them thus far. Onward!


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Deleted.


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We just had the world's shortest appointment at Wells Fargo Bank. We gave them a shot after having seen them recommended elsewhere in this forum. The bad news is that they do not make business startup loans, period. Apparently they only make loans when you don't so much need them any more. On to the next one!


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Has anyone had any experience with PNC Bank?


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Did you explore using an SBA loan? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SBA_504_Loan


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Boomtown - yes, absolutely, we've looked at SBA from Day One. I neglected to mention that we are intensely fortunate to have as our third partner a guy that has started up six physician owned hospitals in a neighboring state. Needless to say, he pretty much knows business and banks and such inside and out. "We" think the best idea is looking at banks that offer both SBA and their "house flavor" loans - we are still definitely leaning toward SBA, as we start our search anew for a competent lender. Very interesting that since we confessed to BB&T that we are actively looking elsewhere (we have not officially fired them yet, but are looking forward to it) they have improved considerably. Too little too late, but what the heck. Anyway, we screwed up at the outset - SHOP YOUR LOAN to several banks, lean toward smaller non mega-sized ones if possible (they tend to be more local-community minded) and move on to the next one if they skip too many beats. Oh, here's how to spot the first sign of an exceptional bank - they'll ask if you have a facility yet (we do) and if so they will request the initial meeting to be on the premises. WOW!


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Jeez, you'd think ur third partner, who "started 6 hospitals", could through a dog a bone. Last I looked at the bills I keep getting for that last ER visit, he's probably doing OK.


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We have joked about the possibility that he may just have enough loose change in his couch cushions to fund our startup. In any case, he knows the business world and insists that doing this through a bank is the only way to go, and he will serve as the guarantor for our loan. He typically does loans in the tens to hundreds of millions, so it's apparent that he knows what he's doing. If it weren't for guys like that, the rest of us would have no hospitals to go to, so I don't begrudge him any of his well-earned success. Once we get established, one of our primary goals will be to help others along just as he has helped us. Pay it forward!


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Wow, just wow. We sent the exact same package (business plan, personal finances of our partners, etc.) to another bank (I'll be happy to mention them when we approach certainty) and TWO - count 'em TWO DAYS thereafter we received a verbal approval. Incredible. This one immediately caught a "Ray Charles could have seen" opportunity to tie the security of the loan to, totally missed by the first useless mega-bank. We are hoping that within the next week or so we'll be on our way.


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I just wanted to say, I received a loan from BBT with only a little hassle. I am a boot strap business and the key was finding and developing a relationship with the banker in charge of my loan. Once I knew who to talk to (via a introduction by the branch manager) I was able to move a small loan forward which is enough to get me into production.


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Glad to hear that you had better results than we did. Likely our situation was a bit different. First, we have committed to sourcing everything as close to 100% local as possible. We eventually took all of the paperwork already submitted to BB&T to a small town bank, they came in for a site visit the same day, two days later we were approved (at prime plus 1%) and we were on our way. The local guys were great, but BB&T was just too big for us (we never actually met the Underwriter, we just had a long series of phone conference calls with the same questions being repetitively asked and answered). They also became fixated on our third partner’s hospital business in Texas. Given that our loan was being secured with a personal asset of said third partner, the information insisted upon regarding his hospital partners was deemed unacceptable by all on that end. In any event, the small bank we have chosen is thoroughly invested in our community and is a participant with us more than a mega-bank could ever be. Totally our bad in the delay in knocking on the small local bank's door. Hope y'all have a glorious startup!