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Small business banking: The credit union solution

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Small businesses, many of which face high costs and inaccessible service from other financial institutions, need the type of member-focused flexible services that credit unions specialize in offering. Small businesses are extremely dependent on branches and they demand flexible and extended hours of operation as well as higher levels of responsiveness and support from branch staff. These are areas in which credit unions excel.

At large, impersonal financial institutions, long-distance decisions are often the norm. On the other hand, local financial institutions can be more responsive, but often can't offer a full range of business services. North Island Credit Union is working to bridge that gap. Look at one local firm to see the benefits that a small business gains from working with a financial institution dedicated helping people realize their dreams.

Leather Jacket Factory

Having started their leather jacket business in Portland, Oregon, 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. Space was at a premium, forcing the couple to sacrifice product display space to accommodate the company's manufacturing needs.

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," said Nancy Estolano. "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 counselor, responsible for and accountable to his customers. This longstanding 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 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.

The Island advantage

Offering the right services to small businesses is only part of the solution. In order to become the first choice for small businesses among financial institutions, North Island Credit Union offers accessibility and responsiveness. North Island Credit Union has also established an infrastructure to make business banking as easy and accessible as possible. Business facilities including merchant windows and drop boxes, and extended hours are available. Members have free, comprehensive, and secure Internet access to accounts 24 hours a day in addition to phone banking benefits. In addition, The Island's ATMs are fee free.

Check out The Island Advantage for your business. Visit www.myisland.com for more information.

Submitted by North Island Credit Union

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