Having started their leather jacket business in Portland, Ore., 36 years ago, San Diego natives Nancy and Mario Estolano relocated their business to Chula Vista in 1974. The original 7,500-square-foot leased facility featured a factory outlet and manufacturing center for aviation, motorcycle, fashion and police jackets, leather riding pants and children’s clothes. Needless to say, space was at a premium, forcing the couple to sacrifice product display space to accommodate the company’s manufacturing needs.
The San Diego Leather Jacket Factory is a woman-owned business that provides 20 full- and part-time jobs in the South Bay. In addition to sales to the public, the Estolanos sell to the Los Angeles, San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Oceanside and Coronado police departments. Their flight jackets are approved for use by members of the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard.
In 2002, the Estolanos’ lease became month-to-month, compelling them to find a new facility. They found the ideal opportunity in two separate buildings in National City — 40,000 square feet total, of which 21,000 would allow the manufacturing and retail enterprises to expand and 19,000 to be leased. To make their discovery a reality, the Estolanos looked to North Island Credit Union for a $1.4-million SBA 504 loan toward the purchase of the larger facility.
“From the start, Gary Bryant of North Island Credit Union has provided outstanding customer service,” Nancy said. “What we appreciate most is that today, three years later, Gary is still our account manager, and the level of service has not wavered one bit.”
Excellence in customer service is the cornerstone of North Island’s business model. At other financial institutions, Bryant would be called an account officer. At North Island, he is a relationship manager, responsible for and accountable to his customers. This long-standing relationship has paid off in many ways for the Estolanos.
“It is reassuring to know that Gary and North Island trust me to buy what I need for my business,” Nancy said. “Decisions are made quickly, which allows me to take advantage of critical business opportunities. Gary is always available to talk to about any questions and concerns I might have.”
Since acquiring the SBA 504 loan, the Estolanos have expanded their enterprise to include retail sale of leather furniture, and Mario opened a tool business — National City Tools — in the second building.
“Rather than leasing the extra space, Mario was able to do what he has always wanted to do,” Bryant said. “He opened his tool business without additional financing and both businesses have more display area now than the total floor space in the old facility. It is very satisfying to be a part of a small business success story.”
In addition to opening a second business and expanding the leather product line, San Diego Leather Factory has launched a Web-based retail business, www.leather.com, which is located with the Estolanos’ other businesses.
A leader in the community for more than 60 years, North Island Credit Union currently offers a diversity of financ ial services for consumers in San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties, including checking and savings accounts, investment services, real estate, vehicle and signature loans and Internet banking. North Island Credit Union also provides small business services, offering payroll services, insurance products, employee benefits, retirement plans, checking and saving accounts, lines of credit, SBA 504 and 7(a) loans, conventional commercial real estate loans, and several other types of “member business loans.”