Sutherland Farm & Auto Supply
Galen Smith knew a thing or two about auto parts but had never before written a business plan. That is when a banker put him in touch with Charlie McPherson, an NBDC consultant at Mid Plains Community College’s north campus in North Platte.
“I had to have a business plan but I had no clue where to head into it,” Smith recalls. “Charlie did an amazing job helping me. We did a business plan that covered everything, all the way from street access to what I sell and the financial information.”
Smith needed the comprehensive business plan as he sought financing to purchase the CARQUEST auto parts store in Sutherland.
“I grew up on a farm, and I had been the owner/operator of a single truck trucking business,” Smith explains. “I moved to Nebraska from Texas about eight years ago. I was renting farmland, growing corn and soybeans, but I was getting frustrated with the high cost of rent and the instability of the ag industry.
“Gus Becker, the former owner of the CARQUEST store, had told me, 'One day, you should buy this place.’ Well, I started thinking I might enjoy that.”
Smith was referred to McPherson in early 2015.
“I listened to his ideas and goals, and helped put together a business plan and financial projections to take back to the lenders,” McPherson says. “Because this involves a process that can’t be done overnight, we spent about two months working on the project together. It was a long, tedious process for him, but ultimately he received approval.”
McPherson says part of his job is to provide reassurance to overcome the aggravations of the often lengthy steps involved in starting or purchasing a business.
“We’re part counselor and part cheerleader,” McPherson says of the roles he and other NBDC consultants play. “It takes a lot of time to get the results you want, and that means being patient. We’re willing to put in the time and effort because we want them to be successful.”
Smith received approval for his loan in September 2015.
“I started working here October 15 and took ownership December 1,” he says. “Gus stayed on and worked here up until January15. So we each had six weeks where we worked for each other.”
Being an independently-owned CARQUEST store means Smith can utilize the company’s computer and cataloging systems as well as carry whatever products he chooses. “I’d say half of my floor space right now is hardware because that’s what my customers need,” he says. “I would like to specialize in what the community wants and can sustain.”
Smith appreciates all that McPherson and the NBDC did to help him purchase his business. “I would use their services again,” he says. “I’d recommend to anyone who was going to start up a business that NBDC should be one of their first stops.”
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