When Pierre Trapanese purchased Northland Control Systems in 2005, he knew he was buying a small company "that needed a lot of work." At the time, Northland was a $1.5 million regional physical security business that provided access control, video surveillance and identity management systems to companies seeking to secure their headquarters and regional offices.
Trapanese quickly got to work. He trimmed the deadweight and began hiring exceptional talent. He also brought his entire staff to eBay to see what a high-quality security solution truly looked like. While there, he stressed the importance of not just installing the right physical security component, but also of focusing on innovation and paying attention to aesthetic details, like neatly running the cables that powered the cameras and controls.
Today, Northland Control Systems is a $32 million integrated security powerhouse with an enviable client list that includes such heavyweights as Apple, eBay, Google and VeriSign.
But the challenges of those early years are still fresh in Trapanese's mind. The company changed banks several times as it struggled to hire and train staff to handle a revenue rate of $10 million on a credit line of just $100,000.
Then, in the spring of 2008, Trapanese received a call from a City National Relationship Manager. "Strangely, I listened to the relationship manager, who was not a director or a VP, but seemed to have the confidence backed by the authority to respond to my situation," Trapanese recalls. "I really didn't have time to fill out a stack of paperwork again only to be told, 'My hands are tied … we are in a recession, you know.'"
So, Trapanese made a simple proposition — he would provide the information required but did not want to complete any more paperwork. He was pleasantly surprised when the relationship manager showed up two hours later with CNB Vice President Diane Hensley. "They took the time to understand our business model, our clients and where our risks lay. They came back soon after with the completed paperwork for a substantial line of credit, and we changed banks on the spot!"
CNB was also instrumental in ushering Northland through the process that would secure an innovative SBA 504 loan — thereby accessing much-needed funds for the company's worldwide headquarters in Fremont. With 10 percent down and 90 percent financing, the 504 loan program allowed Trapanese to keep more cash on hand. "Most banks offer SBA lending," Trapanese says, "but the selling point with CNB is that they were able to quickly and efficiently guide us through the process."
Now that credit has loosened, Trapanese has the luxury afforded by perspective. "My judgment of a bank is how they can help me when I need them, not when they need me. CNB looked at Northland Control's specific situation and evaluated our management team and our trustworthiness. They based their credit decisions on their evaluation of us, and not on what the market was doing. I would have never believed that a simple and sincere phone call would have had such a wonderful impact on my business."
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