In 2001, UNC MBA grad Ron Unger noticed a common need among small businesses: these companies often didn’t have the budget to have their own IT department, yet still needed IT support. Ron combined forces with two other MBA friends to create WorkSmart, a company providing managed IT services to other businesses. WorkSmart started small and steadily built up their client base as word spread about their excellent customer service and reliable solutions.
By 2010, WorkSmart had maxed out their leased office space, and used an SBA 504 loan from Self-Help, in partnership with their lender, to purchase their first building. They didn’t have enough employees to fill the entire building yet, but they wanted to give themselves plenty of room to grow. WorkSmart leased out 49% of the building (the maximum allowable by the SBA) to other businesses and occupied 51% of the building themselves. This smart growth strategy allowed WorkSmart to obtain the space they needed to fuel their growth, while still taking advantage of the long-term, low down payment, and low interest rate offered by the 504 loan.
Since then, WorkSmart has continued to grow year over year, appearing on the INC 5000 list 11 years in a row, and now occupies more than 80% of the original building and has purchased an identical building next door along with an office condo in Charlotte. They now employ 70 people and have a presence in Durham, Charlotte, Greensboro, and Philadelphia.
Many SBA 504 borrowers are businesses that use heavy equipment and require large facilities. But as WorkSmart realized, smaller service-oriented companies can also take advantage of the 504 program’s great terms by leasing out part of their space until they are ready to grow. If you are working with a business that could also benefit from a long-term loan at low fixed rates, contact us today to learn more about the 504 program.