From Launch to Leadership
By: Mick Goik
In 2023, I had the privilege of leading Oxford Commercial Finance (OCF) through an extraordinary journey. From its inception as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oxford Bank to achieving remarkable growth and success, the year was a testament to our strategic evolution. In this article, we will explore the pivotal achievements, milestones, and strategic plans that have not only defined our past success but have set the stage for our ambitious growth in 2024.
Setting the Pace: A Rapid Start in 2023
Oxford Bank's strategic move to launch OCF as a specialized business financing company marked a pivotal moment. Focused on meeting the cash flow financing needs of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) nationwide, we hit the ground running. Initiatives such as a new website, a robust social media platform, and a nationwide marketing program were complemented by the implementation of a cutting-edge CRM software system. These steps laid the foundation for efficient sales management and streamlined processes in our rapidly growing business.
Building a Top-Caliber Team: Acquisitions and Leadership
The prior year marked a significant milestone with a strategic acquisition that brought Robyn Barrett, SVP-Managing Director, and a team of experienced professionals on board. This move fast-tracked the growth of our core Working Capital division. The addition of Mark Mattheson, EVP-Chief Credit Officer, and Steve Tomasello, SVP-Sales Manager, further solidified our leadership team, boasting over 100 years of combined business financing experience. Our team's expansion also included the recruitment of six new employees, strategically placed in key markets such as Florida, California, and Michigan. Today, our team consists of 22 professionals across various offices in the United States.
Strategic Growth Initiatives: Diversifying and Expanding Horizons
Throughout 2023, we dedicated ourselves to pursuing smart and strategic growth opportunities.
Key initiatives included:
- Diverse Financing Options: We expanded our product offerings to encompass a range of flexible financing options, including Accounts Receivable Financing, Asset-Based Lending, Leasing, Term Loans, and the recent addition of Purchase Order (PO) Financing. The latter provides crucial support for manufacturers, importers, exporters, and distributors to fulfill new orders promptly.
- Strategic Joint Ventures: A notable joint venture with Michigan-based HELP Financial was established to purchase the uninsured portion of medical receivables from hospitals across the country. This initiative allowed patients to amortize the uninsured portion of their medical bills over time with manageable payments.
- Entry into Alternative Energy: Venturing into the Alternative Energy space, we completed two sale-leaseback transactions in the fuel cell sector, generating a combined $6 million in funding for green energy projects.
Fueling Customer Success in Turbulent Times
The challenging economic landscape of 2023 prompted many businesses to seek alternative financing solutions beyond conventional bank options. OCF's commitment to supporting our customers resulted in noteworthy successes:
- Reviving an Industrial Parts Manufacturer: Faced with financial setbacks in 2022, this established manufacturer and industry leader, with over $7 million in annual revenue, was dropped by its lender. OCF stepped in, providing funding in July 2023, enabling the company to recover and transition back to a more traditional line of credit.
- Assisting a Technology Services Company Amid Crisis: A $20 million technology services company faced disruption due to Silicon Valley Bank's financial problems. Urgently needing a replacement lender, OCF underwrote, approved, and funded a new loan within 60 days, ensuring continued critical cash flow.
- Empowering a Sports Technology Company: One of our first customers in 2023, a leader in machine vision technology and sports data analysis, faced restrictive financial covenants with their traditional bank line of credit. OCF crafted a facility without these constraints, closing the deal within 45 days and supporting the company's growth objectives.
Delivering Strong Results in 2023
By all metrics, 2023 was a resounding success for OCF, impacting our company, employees, partners, and stakeholders. Collaborating with our joint ventures, we completed 60 transactions, funding approximately $51.7 million in new business. Additionally, we acquired eight new patient loan pools through our HELP joint venture, adding another $12.4 million in funding. In total, we injected over $64 million into new business. A detailed breakdown of our achievements includes:
- Working Capital Success: Over 200 transactions were considered, totaling just over $400 million of facility limits, with 29 new deals funded, amounting to $27.7 million.
- Term Loans: Nine new term loans were funded, totaling $7 million.
- Leasing Transactions: Our leasing joint venture with VFS facilitated 20 transactions, totaling $10.7 million in new business.
- Patient Loan Pools Acquisition: We purchased eight pools of patient loan pools through our HELP Financial joint venture, contributing $12.4 million in new funding.
- Alternative Energy Transactions: Closing two new transactions in the Alternative Energy space added approximately $6 million in new funding.
Continued Momentum into 2024
The success of 2023 sets the stage for our ambitious plans in 2024. We are grateful for the dedication of our team, the trust of our customers, partners, and the Oxford Bank family. Our primary objective is to build on the momentum of the previous year, aiming to double our balance sheet once again.
The economic challenges persisting from the previous year are anticipated to create increased demand for alternative financing solutions. Our capacity to help businesses during uncertain times and guide them toward more traditional lines of credit with Oxford Bank when appropriate carves out a unique position for us in the market. Strategic objectives for the year include expanding services and solutions, forging a strategic partnership in the Equipment Finance arena, and growing business development resources to extend our market reach.
A noteworthy initiative is the introduction of an in-house credit training program, facilitating cross-training with Oxford Bank. Additionally, the development of an in-house field exam department will audit customer books and records internally, minimizing reliance on third-party providers.
Education and Industry Leadership as Priorities
Education and industry leadership remain high priorities for OCF. Investments of time and resources into initiatives like Oxford Bank’s online Money Masters financial literacy program showcase our commitment to broader community progress. OCF's ongoing involvement and leadership in key industry organizations, notably the American Factoring Association , The Secured Finance Network and the Turnaround Management Association, reinforce our dedication to staying at the forefront of industry trends and best practices.
Dedication to Future Success
As we look ahead, our dedication to providing tailored financial solutions, supporting customer growth, and solidifying our position as an industry leader and trusted financial partner remains strong. The journey from launch to leadership has been transformative, and we are poised to continue this trajectory in the coming years. With innovation, strategic growth, and customer success at the core of our mission, Oxford Commercial Finance is ready for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.