Goodwill is what it’s all about
After working for Walker Insurance Agency for more than 10 years Thomas Cathcart was offered the opportunity to buy the business. He had the experience and the client list to make the business a success. What he didn’t have was the funds to purchase the company.
Walker Insurance, located in Columbia, South Carolina provides a variety of products to the logging and trucking industries. This includes commercial truck and auto liability, commercial general liability, physical damage insurance for trucks, autos and equipment and insurance for processing plants such as chip and lumber mills. It was a booming business, yet there were no solid assets–no inventory, equipment or land to use as collateral for a traditional loan.
“Ours is a relationship business,” explains Cathcart, now Walker Insurance’s president. “The company’s value is all based on goodwill—the reputation Walker Insurance held in the market place, client relationships built through many years of business.”
Traditional banks didn’t want to take a chance on what they considered an unsecured business loans. That’s when Cathcart approached BCI Lending about a SBA (Small Business Administration) loan. “They were receptive from the start,” Cathcart says. “BCI Lending helped us when ordinary mainstream banks would not.”
BCI Lending reviewed Cathcart’s business proposal and loan officer Larry Jones worked to help him realize his dream of purchasing the business. Walker Insurance has since grown and added more employees as well as expanding product offerings to main street small commercial accounts and individual personal insurance customers.
With Cathcart as president, his wife, Lisa, as co-owner and CFO, his father as the company’s safety and loss control representative and his brother-in-law as agent, Walker Insurance is truly a family owned and operated agency. They insure logging operations throughout South Carolina and Cathcart often travels directly to his clients’ operations to discuss coverage issues and pick up a premium payments.
Cathcart is assistant fire chief for the Lebanon Volunteer Fire Department in his home county of Fairfield and was once called to a forest fire at 4 a.m. only to find that the fire was started by a burning piece of logging equipment that belonged to one of his long time clients. Cathcart helped extinguish the flames then assisted his customer with losses afterward. That’s the way neighbors and businesses build goodwill—always being there to respond when times are tough.
Cathcart understands and appreciates what it takes to keep business relationships positive. That’s why he has high praise for BCI Lending.
“They’ve been a good partner,” Cathcart says. “They took a chance on us. They’re good people and we’ve been very happy with our relationship.”