The foundation for Jim Oot’s Cato, NY-based home-improvement business, Oot Renovations, was laid early in Jim’s life when he studied to be an electrician in high school. As he was learning that trade, an opportunity to help renovate his parents’ home sparked a broader interest in every aspect of home improvement. Today, as the founder and sole owner of Oot Renovations, he’s doing work he loves while building a solid business with the help of a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Veteran’s loan through Pursuit.
A need for a business doesn’t always mean approval for loans
Jim left active military duty in 1997 and spent the next 20 years honing his home design and construction skills with other employers. By 2017, he was ready to go out on his own and he formalized Oot Renovations shortly after.
“We focus on providing excellent quality along with great service and competitive pricing,” Jim says, “and the need for responsible, reliable, and talented home-improvement crews is significant and ongoing, so I knew that I could build a viable business.”
Early on, Jim tried to get a conventional small business loan, but since he was only in business for a short time, he didn’t meet the traditional funding criteria.
And although Jim’s veteran status means that there are a lot of programs available, as he explains, “Just getting the process started can be overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to run your day-to-day operations with a small staff.”
The good news is that Pursuit and other SBA-certified lenders have more flexible eligibility and approval criteria, which means that they can approve more small businesses for the funding they need – the only thing holding Jim back from getting the loan he needed was that he hadn’t yet learned about Pursuit.
A chance meeting and veteran opportunities through the SBA Community Navigator program
Fortunately for Jim, one of his home-improvement clients, Kayla Eberhardt, is the program manager for the SBA’s Community Navigator program at Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families. The SBA Community Navigator program was launched in 2021 to provide targeted assistance to small businesses in underserved communities, focusing on veterans, women, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, including small businesses in rural and urban communities.
Kayla put Jim in touch with Alex Yu at Pursuit, and another small business success story was in the making.
A loan from Pursuit has an immediate positive impact
Soon after his initial conversation with Pursuit, Jim applied for and received a $30,000 loan that’s already having a positive impact on his business. He explains, “In home improvement, you need sufficient working capital to cover labor, supplies, and operational expenses upfront. If you don’t have the funding, then you lose out on good jobs.”
He adds that in addition to helping Oot Renovations be more competitive for labor and projects, his SBA loan helped him pay off an existing loan for a large dump trailer.
“It was an essential piece of equipment,” he says, “so, I had taken out a loan with a high-interest rate from another lender. I was able to pay that off with the Pursuit SBA loan. That had an immediate positive impact on my business and my credit score,” he says.
Jim says he was amazed by the great loan terms that Pursuit offers through the SBA loan programs for veterans. “I was also really happy about how easy Pursuit made the loan process. Alex worked with me from start to finish, and even when I got busy with renovation jobs, Alex stayed in touch and kept the process moving forward,” Jim says.
Financial-management assistance and additional services
Along with the SBA loan, Jim qualifies for additional services to help him manage and grow his business. Soon, he’ll start working with a financial-management mentor, which Jim says is critical for his success. “One of the things that’s been a struggle is putting together accurate financial projections, so I’m really looking forward to getting help,” he says. In the months to come, he’ll also get marketing assistance and more.
Pursuit can help you, too
“I wouldn’t hesitate to go to Pursuit again. I got a great interest rate, the whole process was so much easier than I expected, and in just a couple of months, it has positively impacted my business. In a word, perfecto!” Jim says.
Pursuit is committed to helping small businesses, including those that may not meet traditional lending criteria. We provide access to more than 15 loan programs and a range of additional services to help you grow.
If you need small business funding or are simply interested in learning more, contact us today.