When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Scott Michel needed help securing federal assistance for his business. PeoplesBank was ready to help.
Spring planting season ushers in a frenzy of activity at Beechtree Landscape and Design in White Marsh, Maryland. In owner Scott Michel’s estimation, over $1 million worth of shrubs and perennials will line the walkways of the company’s three-acre property.
There also will be row upon row of hand selected specimen trees waiting to be tagged, dug up, and transplanted to transform a customer’s landscape.
A pandemic conundrum
Beechtree hasn’t always been this big. When Scott launched the business in 2005, he had two crews and took on every task himself, from sales to landscape design to project installation and management.
“Pretty much every job that runs through the company, I’ll at least have my hands on or look at,” he says.
As his offerings grew to include installation of hardscapes and landscape lighting, so did his team. Beechtree now employs a landscape architect, office manager, field production managers, an in-house mechanic, and upwards of 25 crew workers during busy seasons. The business has expanded year over year, consistently 8 to 10 percent annually.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Scott knew he needed to take care of his employees but accessing federal Paycheck Protection Program funds was a struggle. His existing bank was unresponsive, so he had missed the deadline for the first round of applications and was worried about missing the second when he reached out to PeoplesBank.
Within days, thanks to PeoplesBank, Beechtree Landscape and Design was in the queue to receive PPP funds.
Scott had not dealt with PeoplesBank before that time, and he was intrigued by its quick response and personalized care for his business, since his introduction to Scott Schechter. He then began to transition and consolidate all of his banking to PeoplesBank, culminating in refinancing his Beechtree shop and nursery to PeoplesBank.
A personalized approach
Throughout his 17 years as owner of Beechtree and a decade of operating his first business, which he started as a 19-year-old, no bank had offered him a line of credit over $50,000.
“I would finally get a small credit line and it would just have so many restrictions on it,” Scott says.
PeoplesBank representatives came to his business, visited his job sites, reviewed his operating procedures, and read client reviews. They saw his well-maintained fleet of trucks and equipment and toured his on-site nursery. They also noticed the stone yard, bulk mulch, soil, new mechanic shop and fuel tanks, then offered him a $300,000 line of credit.
“For us to be able to be competitive, I have to buy in bulk. I have to buy my fuel in bulk. I have to buy my plants in bulk,” Scott says. “It’s nice to be able to say, ‘OK, we’ve got enough in our line of credit that we can safely buy what we need, well in advance.’”
Turning down the heat
Scott also turned to PeoplesBank to consolidate multiple loans through a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, resulting in a lower interest rate for a longer term that will save him hundreds of thousands of dollars. No longer as burdened by supply chain issues or shipping delays, Scott is prepared months in advance for the next season.
“It definitely took some of the heat off,” he says.
Scott isn’t trying to expand as much as he’s looking for ways to become more efficient, making every dollar count as he cares for his employees, hones his systems, and trains the next generation of Beechtree leaders. “We’re happy with PeoplesBank,” Scott says, “because they helped us reach the next level.”
To Learn More about Beechtree Landscaping, visit their website: https://www.beechtreelandscape.com/