After 14 years working at Smart Enterprises, the last five as general manager, Carlos Mendez got a shock. Randall Smart, president and owner of the company, died in July 2010. Randall’s wife, Allyn Smart asked Mendez if he would like to buy the custom metal fabrication company.
"When Smart Enterprises shut down instead of selling, the situation looked bleak. However, we were determined to make it work. We contacted Len and he helped us find financing to buy the assets. Then we talked to the employees, vendors and suppliers. Amazingly they were also on board."
Carlos Mendez, Owner
Mendez jumped at the chance and went through negotiations on price for the existing business. He and his wife, Teresa Mendez, were excited to own a successful business with good clients and vendors. As the Mendezes were working toward a finalized agreement with Allyn Smart, she decided shut the business down rather than sell it.
The Mendezes had been working with Len Erickson, St. George Small Business Development Center director, on getting a loan for operating capital. After Smart shut down the business, they were discouraged, but were determined to find a way to make the business work. While Carlos and Teresa worked to get a contractor's license, business license, set up an LLC and create a company checking account, the 12 employees of Smart Enterprises kept working. Many of the vendors let the Mendezes get products on credit. As the business was being reorganized into New Horizon Siding and Roofing, most customers were patient and stuck with Carlos.
"This situation made me stronger and proved how important it was that I had developed great reputations with vendors, customers and employees. We were able to hold the company together," Carlos said.
"We were able to build the business so quickly because I built trust and a great reputation as the general manager, which carried over to the new business. The employees and customers stuck with us and vendors set up credit lines immediately."
Carlos and Teresa are very thankful for the employees, vendors, financial institutions, customers and the SBDC who believed in New Horizon. The couple had strong collateral and credit, which made it easier to get an unsecured line of credit for $25,000. Later they can come back with their collateral and new financial statements for up to $125,000. Carlos and Teresa kept a thriving business from closing down and saved 12 jobs. Now the two are looking to purchase a building for their ever-expanding business. The Mendezes are truly living the American dream and helping build Southern Utah.
The Utah SBDC network is comprised of 11 regional centers hosted by Utah colleges and universities. The centers serve entrepreneurs and small businesses across the state. The centers are funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.