3 Badge Beverage Corporation, Formerly Known as the Other Guys, Purchases 9,550 Sq. Ft. Historic Sonoma Fire House With 504 Financing Through Capital Access Group

Capital Access Group (www.capitalaccess.com), a commercial real estate lender specializing in U.S. Small Business Administration 504 loans for growing businesses, announced today that it arranged $2,138,200 in total project financing for 3 Badge Beverage Corporation (www.3badge.com), formerly The Other Guys, to purchase a 9,550 sq. ft. historic fire house located at 32 Patten Street in Sonoma, CA.

The principals of 3 Badge Beverage Corporation are fourth-generation members of one of Sonoma’s oldest wine families – one that has been a leader in the California wine industry since their great-grandfather, Samuele Sebastiani, opened his eponymous winery in Sonoma almost 110 years ago. The company is committed to producing top-quality wines and spirits at reasonable price points.

The facility at 32 Patten Street, known locally as “the old firehouse,” was originally built in 1948 as a combined police and volunteer fire station. For many years, it was a “utility player,” serving as temporary office space for city departments when they were going through seismic upgrades or in need of extra space. The building retains the firehouse doors and two-story interiors where fire trucks were parked. The location and historic nature of the building make it an important gateway to the surrounding community.

“Currently, our greatest area of need is more office space,” said August “Aug” Sebastiani, President, 3 Badge Beverage Corporation. “We were busting at the seams at the place we were renting, and we saw the opportunity to not just improve square footage in terms of office space, but also to add 5,000 feet of garage space.”

3 Badge will utilize the building as half office, half warehouse space. The new facility will help to ultimately house 22 new jobs for the company.

“This big, beautiful firehouse tells a story, which is reflected in the new brand identity” said Sebastiani. “My grandfather and namesake had three volunteer firefighter service badges, my dad and uncle were also volunteer firefighters. And when I was on the City Council we used the firehouse as temporary office space when we redid City Hall. My family is historically well-connected to this space.”

“We sat down with our bank and said we want to make a play for this building,” said Sebastiani. “The SBA 504 loan with Capital Access Group ended up being the most attractive option. Ultimately, the 504 loan will allow us to focus our capital on developing a new spirits program aggressively, instead of locking up capital in the down payment.”

“3 Badge Beverage Corporation and the Sebastiani family have such a strong history in Sonoma and the California wine industry,” said Jacklyn Jordan, President and CEO of Capital Access Group. “We were honored to help them purchase this historic firehouse, and we are pleased that the SBA 504 program’s low interest rates and low down payment will help to facilitate their growth.”

“This was our first exposure to Capital Access Group,” said Keith Casale, CFO, 3 Badge Beverage Corporation. “The experience was great and working with the Capital Access Group team was fantastic. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

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Building a Solid Business Foundation With Capital Access Group: The Story of Equator Coffee

What started 20 years ago in a Marin County, California garage has grown into a thriving company that brings a social conscience to every sip of its tasty beverages.

Equator Coffees & Teas, owned by Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell, now has 83 employees, more than 350 wholesale customers—including the renowned French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, Calif., cafes at LinkedIn and micro-kitchens at Google—and three retail stores in Northern California with a fourth on the way. Equator also, thanks to an SBA 504 loan from Capital Access Group, owns its own 5,500-square-foot roasting plant in Marin County, CA.

Not bad for the partners in business and in life whose coffee adventure began with the simple acquisition of an Italian roaster, using proceeds from the sale of Brooke’s mother’s wedding ring.

Helen and Brooke first mulled the coffee business idea—perhaps not surprisingly, over coffee—in Portland, Oregon in the early 1990s, just as the specialty coffee industry was heating up. They launched their first two coffee bars named Europa in San Francisco, with Helen providing the business acumen and Brooke, the discriminating palate. A foodie with natural curiosity about the provenance of the beans, Brooke became frustrated when roasters offered little or no information with regard to the farms, farmers, elevation, and climate where coffee was grown. That’s when she decided to buy the roaster and began roasting coffee in her garage in Marin. The business became Equator Coffees & Teas in 1995.

“Brooke started ordering green coffee…and put together the blends,” said Helen. “I just started sending out coffee samples to anybody that would listen.”

Equator Coffee & Teas takes its name from the geographic area where coffee grows, and its logo – a Bengal tiger – from the graceful animal native to that region. From the beginning, the women wanted to do things differently, and that meant learning to be a good partner to the various communities with which they engaged: customers, farmers, wholesalers, and employees.

In 2011, Equator was the first U.S. coffee roaster to become a certified B Corporation, meeting rigorous environmental and social performance standards and by supporting the growers around the world and everyone involved in the supply chain. The company has been working directly with its farmers for 17 years—the owners regularly visit their growers, offering incentives and micro-loans—and was one of the first roasters to support the Fair Trade Certified label to gain better wages for the growers. It also co-owns a sustainably planned farm, Finca Sophia, in Panama, which has been selected a finalist for the 2016 Good Food Awards. Equator, as part of its social mission, provides 100 percent health insurance to all of its employees.

Being mindful of the social mission is one thing, but Equator Coffee is still a business, and a business needs to grow in order for the social mission to be sustainable. “I’m a capitalist like anybody else, right? In order to make an impact, you have to be profitable,” said Helen. “That just makes sense. The more business that we can attract, the greater the impact.”

Fifteen years ago, Equator’s accountant encouraged the business owners to invest in a building by setting a 10% down payment aside and obtaining an SBA loan through Capital Access Group. With a down payment of $150,000, they were able to purchase a building then valued at $1.1 million. “It was something I never had dreamed would be possible,” said Helen. “We wanted to have the security of owning that building. And we only have six or seven years left on it.”

Calling the decision to purchase “one of the best decisions that we’ve ever made,” Helen said Capital Access Group “made the process very, very easy, and really walked us through the process.” What wasn’t easy was setting aside $150,000 for the down payment, but because it was a priority, they made it happen. A conventional loan, with a down payment between 20 and 35 percent, would have made it impossible to own.

“Jacklyn Jordan (President and CEO of Capital Access Group) visited us and explained the 504 program,” said Helen. “She looked at the building and laid out the options. I think the education was the most helpful part of the process. That, and Jacklyn’s interest in our business. She was totally interested. And we were little guys.”

“It has been a pleasure watching Equator’s growth over the years,” said Jordan. “This is a clear example of how building ownership can determine the trajectory of a business. We are proud of their success, and we are so happy that we could help them purchase the building that helped to secure their future.”

Though it started out as a boutique “concierge” roaster for wholesalers, Equator would have to enter the retail market in order to expand the reach of the brand, so in recent years, the owners opened shops in Mill Valley and San Francisco.

“Unless you really have a retail store for people to experience your brand, you’re not going to have the growth, given the competition that we have with a lot of great local roasters,” Helen said. For example: A customer who visited their first store, Proof Lab Surf Shop in Mill Valley, was a LinkedIn employee who liked the coffee, and now Equator is in two LinkedIn cafes. The retail exposure also led to accounts at Google, for 200 of its micro-kitchens.

In addition to its B Corp. status and farm ownership, the business has many honors and distinctions that make it unique. Equator is a member of the Golden Gate Business Association (San Francisco’s LGBT chamber of commerce), a certified LGBT-owned business by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), and for 12 years, it has been included in the San Francisco Business Times Top 100 Women-Owned Businesses in the Bay Area. This year, the SF Business Times also included it as No. 6 in the Top 25 LGBT-owned businesses in the Bay Area.

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Capital Access Group Announces Fiscal Year 2015 Results; Lending Created More than 700 New Jobs Throughout California!

Capital Access Group approved loans for 72 small businesses in fiscal year 2015 and finished the year as the highest volume CDC in the South Bay.

“Capital Access Group’s loan volume increased by 38% over fiscal year 2014 by dollar amount, which indicates that small businesses in California were taking advantage of the 504 program’s low down payment to preserve working capital and invest in growth in 2015,” said Jacklyn Jordan, President and CEO of Capital Access Group. “This is great news for the small business sector, which is essential to creating jobs and growing the State’s economy. Our clients who received loans in fiscal year 2015 created more than 700 jobs, which is tremendous news.”

Capital Access Group’s lending surged in Alameda, Santa Clara, and Sonoma Counties as the economy heated up throughout Northern California. The average loan size also increased in 2015. The average debenture—the SBA portion of the financing—increased from $891,150 to $1,029,319 in FY2015 over FY2014.

Capital Access Group provided SBA 504 commercial real estate loans to finance a wide variety of innovative businesses in 2015, including a rapidly expanding test preparation company, a family-owned home furnishings retailer, a custom cable manufacturing and engineering company, a woman-owned architecture firm, and many more.

“We’re so proud to support our small business clients while helping to create jobs and grow the economy one business at a time,” said Jordan.