After a 30-year career working for a national pest control company, Tim Whitt retired to an Oklahoma lake house in 2009. Restless, he soon became an entrepreneur in the industry he knew. Living about 90 miles south of Tulsa, he started Pied Piper Services of North America in 2010 to serve customers in Eufaula and the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.
Within four months, he needed to refinance a vehicle and find help. Twelve years later, he now employs 22 and serves customers in two neighboring states, having financed his fleet of 24 trucks with help from Bank of Oklahoma. In January 2022, the bank helped him quickly acquire a pre-owned truck in a hot auto market driven by limited supply causing rapidly escalating vehicle prices. According to Whitt, the bank's rate was at least 2% less than what the dealer quoted.
While inflation remains a concern, optimism among small business owners continues to rise, according to the July NFIB Small Business Optimism Index. More than half (52%) of survey respondents reported capital outlays in the last six months focusing on new equipment, vehicles and improving or expanding their facilities.
Business owners with access to capital and a strong payment history—despite hiring, sales and supply chain challenges—may choose to follow that trend and apply for financing to acquire or refinance equipment, according to Josh Denton, senior product manager at BOK Financial®. He added that borrowers appreciate repayment terms of up to seven years and that equipment can frequently be depreciated on their tax returns.
Such a move has other advantages, too, according to Denton, especially given the many indications that the Fed will continue to raise rates multiple times this fall.
"Buying a piece of equipment outright can really constrain the cash flow that the owner is otherwise working from, particularly during inflationary times when costs and wages are going up. Borrowing provides flexibility," said Denton.
Owners like Whitt often borrow for one, or a combination, of the following reasons:
- Grow the business through new products or expanded services.
- Make operations more profitable.
- Accomplish tasks more easily.
- Become more efficient.
- Keep pace with the industry and technology.
New equipment easing patients' lives
A Houston-based provider of restorative dental services shared a similar success story. As office manager, Connie has helped guide her husband Frank's dental practice for more than 35 years. A prosthodontist, Frank performs preventive and restorative dentistry, including crowns, bridges, dentures and other intensive dental repairs.
The practice employs seven, and its years in business, reputation and a multi-generation following has drawn patients from across the country. Connie estimates that the market has 50 such practices now, up from 5-10 when they came from Chicago years ago.
X-ray machines and lasers can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars, but they're necessary investments that improve patient service and make Frank's life much easier. "People underestimate the physical demands of dentistry," Connie says, adding, "Any help we can get through equipment, which has come a long way over time, is a relief. By having newer lasers, patients may not need anesthesia as they have in the past, which is a big plus."
Connie said her bank—the Bank of Texas—makes the equipment lending and acquisition process easy. "I call my bank contact with what I need—the amount and period I want to borrow for—and the rest is between them and the supplier, including documentation and funding. There are no hassles, and we can pay off any loan early if we choose to," she said.
Whitt, the retiree-turned-business owner, said that relying on a long-term banking relationship has made him a better owner and operator. "Knowing where I am at any one time helps me make decisions in a more determined way, giving me more confidence and allowing me to make decisions quickly," he said.
Business bankers will help you apply for a loan online or by phone, and choose your loan terms, Denton explained. "Once funded, loans often open the door to other conversations and resources that can help expand your business or raise its value. Through BOK Financial's business equipment acquisition and refinance program, traditional lending obstacles can instead be opportunities to help grow banking and customer relationships."
Whitt said his bankers have also provided referrals to other resources, like legal and real estate, and connected him with an online service provider which he uses to save time, reduce his administrative duties and provide payroll transparency to his employees.
His business has grown and benefitted. "By listening to my customers and knowing that I have the support of the bank, I've expanded my service offerings to include lawn fertilization, weed management and animal control."
The best part: Whitt's pest control business has served Bank of Oklahoma's locations for the past seven years. "We're each other's customers!" he said.