Andy and Sarah Fiegener were looking for a relationship — a banking relationship.
The husband-and-wife mechanical engineer team founded Rye Design, a custom automation equipment manufacturer and integrator, in 2013. They help companies automate their manufacturing processes, as well as outfit any control system and robotics needs.
In other words, the couple designs and builds robots for a living.
“We bootstrapped everything,” explains Sarah, meaning they built the business from the ground up with no outside financing. “And then, two years ago, we said, ‘This is where we want to go, the direction we want to head towards.’”
A key part of that direction, Andy and Sarah explain, was finding a bigger space in Claremore to buy, not rent. But the big bank they were working with couldn’t be less interested.
“We came from a bigger bank who would never give us the time of day,” Andy says.
“They didn’t take us seriously,” Sarah adds. “We couldn’t get a meeting with them. They never checked on us or anything. They didn’t really care that we were here.”
Andy and Sarah say they chose their first bank, a megabank, out of convenience. They had always banked there before, and already had a home loan there.
It quickly became clear, however, that this big bank wasn’t going to work for their small business needs.
“I just don't think you realize the need for a relationship with a bank until you are in business,” And says, “And you're like, ‘I need capital, I need to have a conversation. I need to be able to tell somebody this is what I'm doing,’ and have them understand. That's just a totally different level. So we definitely knew pretty quick that wasn't going to happen with our current bank.”
The Fiegener’s megabank wouldn’t even meet with them — let alone look at their financials or listen to their visions for the future of their business.
When they could get someone at the bank to talk to them, Andy and Sarah felt like those limited interactions came off as condescending.
“It was always like, ‘Oh, look at Andy and Sarah. They're so cute. They're out there trying to make it,’” Andy explains.
This dissatisfaction with big banks isn’t new.
About 63 percent of small business owners say they don’t feel their banks appreciate their business, according to a 2018 J.D. Power study.
Even worse, 72 percent of small business owners don’t feel their bank specializes in small business banking.
What Andy and Sarah needed was a bank that wanted to be their bank and that appreciated them as small business owners.
“We're small and we're hungry,” Andy says. “And I think, when you're with a bigger bank, they don't have a desire to bring on new customers. It might be nice, but really who they're targeting are the more established companies. There's no incentive for them to help companies like us.”
Blue Sky Bank lender Ryan McDaniel didn’t know Andy and Sarah were searching for a new banking relationship when he reached out to them, but he introduced himself at the perfect time.
Ryan took the time to tour Rye Design’s space in Claremore. He sat down with Andy and Sarah, reviewed their financials, and learned about plans for the future of Rye Design.
It was exactly the kind of relationship Andy and Sarah were looking for.
“It's hard with a big bank to talk to somebody who can make a decision, or who has any pull at all to help you out and plead your case,” Sarah says. “And with Ryan, that's not an issue.”
When the ideal property popped up for Andy and Sarah to purchase, they needed to act fast.
Thankfully, Blue Sky Bank was quick to respond.
“We called Ryan and said, ‘Hey, can we do this?’ And he said, "Are you still where you were a couple months ago?’” Andy explains.
It was that simple, because of the relationship Ryan had already established with Andy and Sarah.
“[Ryan] had already spent some time with us and understood where we were as a business and how we operate,” Sarah says. “So we didn't have to go through and prove all of that to him, because he already knew all of it.”
But Blue Sky Bank didn’t stop at just approving the Commercial Real Estate loan.
Ryan checked with his contacts who work in Commercial Real Estate to make sure Andy and Sarah were getting a good price on the property. He even recommended a contractor.
“[Ryan] helped us make that decision. We were struggling, trying to get information to make that decision, and he helped a lot,” Andy says. “It was awesome.”
Andy and Sarah say they’ve found exactly what they’re looking for — someone with whom they can bounce around ideas, who will genuinely listen to them, and who will come up with creative financial recommendations.
“I bet anybody that's in a small business is not having those types of honest conversations with their banker,” Andy says. “I don't know of anybody else who really has an open relationship with their banker like that.”
Andy and Sarah are focused on growing their business and streamlining their automation offerings.
They plan to move into their new owner-occupied commercial property at the end of 2020.
As Rye Design grows, Andy and Sarah know they can count on Blue Sky Bank to support them along every step of the way.
“No matter how many questions we ask, [Ryan] will patiently answer them,” Sarah says. “It has been quite a few questions,” she laughs.
If the relationship Andy and Sarah have with Ryan at Blue Sky Bank is the kind of banking relationship you’re looking for, give Blue Sky Bank a call or send us an email today.