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Trek's financial expert: Re-evaluate your business, don't give up on securing loans

Published April 13, 2020

WATERLOO, Wis. (BRAIN) — Sound financial advice is at a premium these days for bicycle retailers trying to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, and Andrew St. Clair has some to give.

Take this time to re-evaluate your business and maximize what you can control: service, delivery, curbside pick-up, cleaning your store, and setting personal shopping appointments.

"Don't waste a crisis," said St. Clair, global director financial services for Trek Bicycle. "Focus on what matters and what you can control. Remain hopeful and optimistic that we will all get out of this together."

Of course, optimism right now is in short supply for some, especially those retailers struggling to secure government loans. The Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program went online April 3 with great fanfare but has been fraught with application delays and at least one major lending institution limiting the number of applications.

"Communication from the SBA and lenders has been fluctuating and there seems to be no experts in this process," St. Clair said. "The general confusion, ever changing information, long waits on the SBA hotline, and conflicting information has caused this process to be very difficult."

Wells Fargo stopped taking PPP loan applications after only one day, creating some concern. St. Clair said he has been directing retailers to other lenders with success.

"With all that said, we are beginning to hear some uplifting stories," he said. "Overwhelmingly, we are hearing that if you can get in the system, it is working. Several of our retailers have been approved for SBA loans and some have started to be funded. In addition to that, more local banks, credit unions, and non-bank lenders are starting to offer PPP applications to customers."

St. Clair recommends retailers apply for both the PPP and the Economic Injury Disaster loans. Both can be accepted as long as there is no duplication in the use of the funds. He said while the PPP is 100% forgivable, it is unlikely to cover all fixed expenses. "We want them to be first in line for the funds that are available as soon as they become available," he said. "The EIDL allows you to use funds to pay other expenses, specifically your vendor payables."

Some retailers are receiving the $10,000 advance on the EIDL loan funding, said St. Clair, who added others have said they have been approved for a PPP loan.

"We are hoping that they will receive funds within the federal government's timeline commitment of two to three weeks after (PPP) approval," he said.

St. Clair's final words of advice to retailers: be bold and be a strong leader.

"It's not the season we were planning, but it's the season we have, and now is the time to take the lead and win it."

Topics associated with this article: Coronavirus

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