Gas, Gifts, and More: How an SBA 504 Loan Helped to Create Queensbury Truck & Pizza Stop

Queensbury Truck and Pizza Stop

Tabassum (Toby) Sheikh has tremendous faith that things will work out as they should, so he’s not one to hesitate when opportunities arise: Several years ago, after he put in the winning bid on a former Getty gas station in Queensbury, NY, he was ready to create the multi-faceted service center of his dreams.

Here’s how he made his dream project, Queensbury Truck & Pizza Stop, come true with help from Pursuit, his bank, and the SBA 504 loan program.

Decades in the industry helped Toby hone his business vision

Whatever the industry, all successful entrepreneurs share some key characteristics, including optimism, tenacity, resourcefulness, and creativity – and Toby has those qualities and more. He had decades of industry experience and a clear vision of the kind of high-quality service center he wanted to create.

Toby had worked in the gas-and-convenience store industry since 1991, including leasing a location before he made his first commercial real estate purchase in 2013 using private financing. “Making a lot of money was never the driving factor behind the work I’ve put in,” he says. “I just enjoy working with people and helping them, so since I started in this business, I’ve always tried to make their experiences great.”

Several years later, he bought a second location at auction for a former Getty gas-station location in Queensbury. He envisioned creating the kind of gas-to-gifts-and-everything-in-between full-service center that would serve his customers well and become a place of community pride.

And that’s when the first of many hurdles popped up.

Shortly after the auction, Toby found out that the well water couldn’t be used for any type of consumption, which made his plans for a restaurant and other services moot. Other problems arose, too, and before long, Toby had to back out of the deal. In the years that followed, the original owner, Getty, had to make repairs to the property, including new water lines that would make the water on the site suitable for all uses, including drinking and food production.

The property went to auction again, and this time, Toby again had the winning bid – for almost $200,000 less than he would pay the first time around.

Even with this good fortune, he admits, “I still didn’t have the money to do anything with it.”

Passion, perseverance, and the right lenders make all the difference

Toby had a great relationship with his commercial bankers at Glens Falls National Bank. For his initial meetings about the new project, Toby estimated the cost at about $1.2 million. Toby’s gas supplier would contribute to the project, and his bank supported his vision, too, but even still, the bank couldn’t approve the full balance needed. They suggested partnering with Pursuit on an SBA 504 loan for construction and equipment, with additional funding for inventory and other necessities.

“My teams at the bank and at Pursuit were supportive, patient, and knowledgeable, helping with every step, which was so important because with a project this big, we ran into challenges, like securing sufficient life insurance as part of the loan package and some construction delays,” Toby says. “Ross Pancoe, my loan officer at Pursuit, helped me navigate the SBA portion and kept the process on track.”

Pursuit offers crucial SBA experience when things get tough

Another challenge was that the project’s actual costs exceeded initial estimates, by about twice as much, in fact. Even still, Pursuit and the SBA, along with Toby’s bank, made the project work.

Queensbury Truck & Pizza Stop opened for business in 2018. Business has been booming since, providing gas, groceries, gifts, specialty ice cream, fishing and hunting gear, camping supplies, and the best pizza for miles around. As a result, Toby has also created about 25 to 35 jobs in his upstate New York communities.

He explains, “I took a big risk, buying the property without full funding in hand, but I believe things will work out, and they have, thanks to the financing and support I received. The SBA portion really made all the difference, too, because, in addition to construction costs, we included funds for everything I needed to open for business. Honestly, I couldn’t have done this without the SBA funding.”

Toby connects with customers to create outstanding experiences

Toby’s enthusiasm for his business is evident – in addition to managing it, he works every day as a cashier, pizza maker, and more – and although he sounds pleasantly surprised at the level of his business’s success, it’s clearly the result of his hard work and decades of experience.

“I haven’t taken a day off in more than four years,” he admits, “but every day, I’m thrilled to see our happy customers. They come from miles away to get our specialty gas – we have eight kinds available, whereas most stations just have a few – and they stay for the pizza, the ice cream, and the souvenir shop. We have long-haul truckers who rest here, and we offer outstanding facilities for them. And we’ve recently leased space to a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee.”

His vision and the risks he took to bring it to fruition are paying off, too: Not only are his businesses doing well operationally, but the commercial real estate that he purchased has risen significantly in value, too. Strong financial management has enabled him to negotiate better terms for inventory and gas, alleviating some inflationary pressures over the last year, and he’s made significant additional principal payments to his bank, quickly building equity.

Despite creating a truly successful business model, he isn’t interested in expanding. Instead, he simply wants both locations to be the best they can be for his customers and his family legacy. “This would never have worked out so well if I didn’t have the financing I needed, as well as the support I received from the SBA, Pursuit, and my bank,” he says. “From my heart, I’m so grateful. Ross and Pursuit and Glens Falls National were so helpful. They understood my plans and trusted me. Now, I just want to keep working and enjoying what we’ve built.”

Pursuit has more than 15 loan options to help you achieve your business dreams

With loan options from $10,000 to $5.5 million, Pursuit has funding options that can help you purchase or build commercial real estate for your business, get the working capital you need to help it thrive, and much more.

Take a look, then contact us to learn more.

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