Only One Bank Took the Time to Understand this Container Business

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Saf-T-Box has been in the container business for over 20 years. In that time, the company has grown to a home office and 5 Texas locations with 56 employees. They specialize in modifying, renting, and selling shipping containers. With a large inventory of units and dozens of custom modifications they can make to the containers for their customers, Saf-T-Box has a business model that can be tough for some banks to figure out.

Tarek El-Kadi has been the Controller at Saf-T-Box for over 10 years and with company for over 18 years. In his current role, he has experienced the challenges involved in getting financing from big banks. “It’s definitely a capital intensive business, and containers are not understood by banks,” Tarek notes. With assets spread across the state, Saf-T-Box seemed susceptible to natural disasters, making them seem like a risky investment. However, between Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike, both of which severely damaged two Saf-T-Box locations, only one container was lost.

After explaining the business’ structure to numerous banks, Tarek would often find that the numbers seemed to make sense to the bankers, but the bank would ultimately reject Saf-T-Box’s applications. “The big banks just take numbers, they plug them into a formula and read what it says back to them, as opposed to taking the extra effort to understand our business,” Tarek says. “We couldn’t get any bank financing. All our lending was through people in the box industry or from third-party lenders.”

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Because of his past experiences, Tarek said he wasn’t initially hopeful about securing financing from Business Bank of Texas. “We were very, very hesitant to talk to Ed, simply because we had just gone through a deal that didn’t pan out, and we were tired. We wanted to just get back to focusing on our business as opposed to focusing on getting people to understand our business.”

Instead, Tarek found a completely different experience from what he’d had with other banks.“Ed came in and took his time and saw what we were talking about, and understood the experience we had with other banks,” he says. “He was the first person to understand and actually believe in our business.”  Within 30 days, Business Bank of Texas had approved a loan for Saf-T-Box.

Tarek has also found that the customer service Business Bank of Texas offers has been above and beyond what he expected based on his past experiences, starting with the transition process. Because Saf-T-Box’s branches are so spread out, Tarek would have had to drive a long way to visit some of them and help with the transition to a new bank. “I was not looking forward to instituting five new scanners and five new banking systems for all five branches,” he says.

However, Business Bank of Texas exceeded Tarek’s expectations by communicating with each branch manager and setting them up through tech support. “That was huge for me. It would have taken me a week to two weeks to do that,” Tarek says. “They took care of it all. A week later, all five branches were set up and taking their own deposits. I didn’t have to do a thing.”

Tarek was also surprised to find that Business Bank of Texas would supply check scanners to all locations free of charge. “I had to pay for all the scanners when I was with Wells Fargo,” he says. “For all six locations, the scanners themselves were almost $2,000. We also realize an additional savings on fees up to $850 per month.” Scanning checks at each branch allows for speedier deposits, which is beneficial to both the company and the customers.

Any time any of the Saf-T-Box branches has a problem with the functionality of their scanners, someone at Business Bank of Texas handles the problem quickly. “With Wells Fargo, when I had scanner problems, if I’d had it for more than 6 months or a year, it was on us to repair or replace it, and that wasn’t the case with Business Bank of Texas,” Tarek notes. When one branch was having technical troubles with a scanner, Brandon at Business Bank of Texas overnighted a new one to Saf-T-Box free of charge.

Upon finding that scanners and remote capture were free with Business Bank of Texas, Tarek prepared himself for high monthly service fees. He was shocked to find that there were absolutely none. “We paid this ridiculous monthly fee to Wells Fargo,” he says. “I honestly didn’t believe it. We have no monthly fees.”

The bank has also helped create a better experience with NSF checks for Saf-T-Box and its customers. “Our customers are human. They make mistakes. They’ll sometimes write an NSF check.” With every other bank, Tarek would get a notice saying that his account would be charged for the bounced check. He would then have to call the customer to explain and ask them to issue another check. This whole process took valuable time to manage. But Business Bank of Texas approaches this issue differently.

At any bank, a check can only be run one more time after showing up as having insufficient funds. In the past, banks had contacted Tarek after the second time, when it was already too late. Instead, Business Bank of Texas contacts Tarek to see how he’d like to proceed after the first time a check shows up as NSF. Saf-T-Box has the ability to contact these customers before the second time their check is run.

This approach makes the whole payment process smoother for Saf-T-Box and its clients. Instead of having to wait for a check to be reissued, customers have the opportunity to move the necessary funds into their accounts before their check is run a second time. “When my customers appreciate my bank, that’s high praise,” Tarek says. “It’s exceeded the point of customer service. My customers are receiving customer service from my bank.” 

We’d love to talk to you about how we can provide a similar experience for your company. Please feel free to contact us to learn more about how we’re able to provide excellent service and no monthly fees for our clients.

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Dwayne Kolly

Business Bank of Texas

Dwayne Kolly brings a wealth of financial management and operations experience to Business Bank of Texas. Kolly has served community banks in south and central Texas for nearly 30 years, and is the bank’s Chief Financial Officer. He is a graduate of the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at SMU (1993).

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