How does an abandoned minimart become a beautiful staple of a neighborhood? Just ask Tom Rennie, founder of WNY Imaging Systems (WNYIS).
“There’s so much to love about this neighborhood,” says Tom. “It’s a great residential and commercial mix and people have really embraced what we’ve built here.”
WNYIS offers a variety of printing services, all while making high-quality service its priority. In 2019, Tom and his team, along with an SBA 504 loan through Pursuit and Lake Shore Savings Bank, transformed the abandoned space into a fresh new building for the company and community.
Today, the bright modern building impacts the neighborhood and brings positivity to people and businesses in the area. Read on to learn about how Tom created a place that unites the WNYIS team while building a neighborhood asset in place of an eyesore.
Steady growth leads to a need for more space
Tom’s career in the digital copier and multifunction-printer industry started with a global brand. As he advanced through the company, he found that there was a need for more flexible solutions and personalized service for small- to large-size organizations. They needed something to help them better manage printing costs – a major operational expense – without sacrificing quality.
Upon opening in 1999, the WNYIS leadership team wanted their competitive advantage to be outstanding service, provided by a talented and dedicated team of professionals in every facet of the business’s operations. Although they built the company from the ground up and without a single client on opening day, they had no doubt that they’d succeed if they stuck to their vision.
Today, Tom’s proud that WNYIS has never wavered from that founding promise.
WNYIS focuses on specialized service to each business, as well as non-profit and governmental-sector clients, offering state-of-the-art managed print systems tailored to every client. They intentionally limit their service area, too. With this, their clients are getting the highest quality service from their team of about 15, including technicians, sales, administrative, and customer service staff.
A transformation for a company and a community
For 20 years WNYIS rented space for its business. “We grew as much as we could in the space that we had, but it became clear that we needed our own building – not only for additional square footage but because the leased space had structural limitations that likewise limited the kind of company culture that we foster here,” Tom explains. “For example, we’re a highly collaborative and accessible team, so we needed a space that could support that vision.”
Tom says that because of the focus on hands-on service, they also needed a space that made it easy to get into downtown Buffalo and the suburbs quickly, with highway access to Rochester-area clients, too.
He found a building – a minimart that had been abandoned for 12 years – that was in the ideal location, even if the building itself was in bad shape. Thinking that he could renovate to suit the company’s vision, Tom bought the property at auction in 2019 without the ability to do an inspection.
“What I didn’t realize then was that there really was no way to make that building into what we envisioned, so we had to demolish the building and start from scratch. A local architectural firm, Silvestri Architects, designed exactly what we wanted and we had a construction company lined up, too, with Peyton Barlow,” says Tom. “But before construction could begin, we needed funding to bring it to fruition.”
Tom looked at several funding options and when Lake Shore Savings Bank (LSSB) discussed the advantages of the SBA 504 program, he knew it was the right solution. Then, his representative at LSSB, Michael Noville, introduced him to Senior Vice President Mike Taylor at Pursuit.
“Pursuit and the bank were both terrific, very responsive, and helpful throughout the process,” says Tom. “There’s a lot of detail and follow-up to SBA loans, but they made the process easier and kept everything on track. And the terms can’t be beaten. The entire project exceeded a half-million dollars, but we only had to put in 10% equity. With a 20-year term, the payments are actually about half of our previous monthly lease payment.”
Gaining much more than a building
“Our new building is wonderful – open, bright, and modern, and the greatest thing is how easily we can collaborate,” says Tom. “When our technicians return from seeing clients, they come here to share ideas and experiences. We’ve improved workflows and streamlined our work. We even have a ‘café’ that we all enjoy. So, we got our own building, yes, but what we’ve really gained is creative collaboration to a level that wasn’t possible before.”
He’s also excited about the impact on the people and businesses in the neighborhood. “This was an abandoned, boarded-up building for more than a decade and that doesn’t bring any positivity to the community. Now, neighbors come and enjoy the walkways and landscaping. Just having something fresh and new here seems to make everyone feel better. It’s great to give that to a neighborhood that you love.”
Pursuit is here to help your business grow stronger, too
As Tom says, “If your team commits to your values and strives to realize them in everything you do, you will succeed. The last couple of years were filled with challenges, but we didn’t furlough any staff and we made sure our clients had everything they needed. We even built a new facility during the pandemic – and now, we’re continuing to grow.”
Pursuit offers more than 15 loan options for small businesses in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. To learn how we can help you achieve your vision, too, contact us today.