In 1994, Shawn Spencer was struggling to make his ground-breaking industrial coatings machine design into a viable business. All he lacked was the capital to purchase the necessary materials to build his equipment.
“SMFA and Will were instrumental in getting the company off the ground. I don’t know if we would exist without them to be honest. We had exhausted other avenues,” says Shawn. He goes on to explain that what they do is very difficult to explain or understand for the lay person. “I would present my business plan to banks, and they would look at me with total confusion. This business wasn’t really identified 25 years ago, we were really breaking new ground.”
Now what they do is highly sought after. Northeast Coating makes titanium and diamond coatings that reduce wear under friction, and greatly extends the lifespan of tools and equipment. Bottom line, what they do makes things last longer.
“Trying to sell that to a banker in my 20’s, with no formal education, just an idea that I knew would work, was basically impossible! Thank goodness, Will and SMFA existed. I explained what I was trying to do to him, and even though he admitted he didn’t really understand what I was talking about, he said he believed me. Will invests in people.”
Will Armitage remembers this loan vividly as it was his very first loan with the organization. “SMFA is uniquely set up to help businesses just like Shawn’s. Our programs are meant to help businesses that are in the position they were in in 1996 – just starting up. We help those businesses that cannot find the capital they need. He had some investors backing him, he had a track record, and he had the business experience that demonstrated he could do this, he just needed some additional capital to help him get over that initial hump to create the business he knew he could.”
Northeast’s initial loan in 1996 was to build the equipment that Shawn had designed. In 2004, they returned to SMFA needing a loan to purchase the building they currently have in Kennebunk. “By that time we were doing well, but still at a point where a bank wasn’t comfortable funding a loan by themselves, Shawn remembers, “So SMFA really saved us again by coming in to support our need for that funding to buy a larger building so we could continue to grow.”
Today their process puts coating on medical components, satellites, nuclear reactors, and weapons for the military. These coatings also have an aesthetic appeal as well because they are gold and black so they look really nice. Shawn is very grateful for the help he’s received from SMFA over the years, “I’ll always have a warm spot for Will and SMFA because I honestly believe we wouldn’t be here today without him. I don’t know what we would have done otherwise.”