Financing Solutions for American Entrepreneurship
Geneva Capital is an independently owned direct lender offering equipment financing solutions catered to the customer’s needs. The company truly understands that operating a small business can be a difficult task and for this reason, Geneva provides both lease and finance agreements that are simple and straightforward, with quick approvals and competitive terms.
“Our goal is to provide simple funding solutions to the customer (the end user) while also creating attractive funding solutions that make it easy for our vendor partners (those making/distributing the equipment) to sell more equipment to said customers,” explains Andrew Cavers, Director of Sales. To effectively service its vendor partners, Geneva provides full service equipment leases and financing solutions to the riskier customers that banks often decline to work with, such as startup companies, despite the potential challenges.
Customers can rely on Geneva to fully understand their equipment needs because the specialty lender only finances equipment in specific industries. It provides funding for transactions of all sizes and offers quick approvals with prompt, personalized service from beginning to end.
Geneva Capital was established in 2000 by Mark Watkins, who had over 15 years of experience with capital equipment leasing before forming the company. The foundation of Geneva was built upon its mission to be a leading provider of leasing and financing solutions to all small businesses, particularly those in the industrial manufacturing, graphic arts, fitness, sign, and municipal markets.
Many companies and banks are not interested in financing startups because they have a higher failure rate statistically and there is a larger risk associated with the loan. But Geneva strives to fill this gap in the market and service all types of small businesses in need. “Being labeled a startup can present some challenges when it comes to acquiring new equipment and/or additional funding resources, but we know entrepreneurship is what drives the heart of the American economy, so the team at Geneva Capital isn’t afraid to finance startup businesses,” says Cavers.
In 2018, Geneva approved over 1,000 applications for startup businesses with close to a 70 percent close rate on qualified applicants. This service is beneficial for the customers that are in need of financing for equipment and the vendor partners that will not be forced to turn down a sale as a result of a customer being declined for a loan.
As a direct lender, Geneva works with companies from the start of the application until the end of the leasing or financing terms to handle any questions or requirements. In an effort to create long-term customers, it aims to provide funding the same day when necessary and it does not penalize for early payoffs. The company has received numerous positive customer testimonials describing the unique customer service experience with Geneva including, “You make borrowing money FUN!” and, “Love these people. They’re always professional, but with the perfect touch of friendliness.”
For 18 of its 19 years in business, Geneva has grown in sales and in December of 2017, it moved into a new facility with state-of-the-art technology to continue to offer the most cutting edge solutions for its customers and vendor partners. It has been able to maintain an impressive 95 percent customer approval rate and many of those customers repeatedly return to Geneva as their first choice for financing needs.
Alexandria, Minnesota is the home base of Geneva where it employs approximately 50 overachievers that know each other on a personal level, and not just as coworkers. There are also seven team members that work remotely across the country and by this summer, with a staff of new interns, the company expects to reach near 65 employees. Geneva Capital places a high value on its staff building a rapport with one another, and it encourages frequent team breakfasts and happy hour social events. “Our work hard, play hard culture keeps our crew motivated to meet sales goals and provide exceptional service. This really does help foster a greater commitment to the whole team and builds the desire to succeed together,” says Cavers.
The leadership team at Geneva has an extensive history in the financial industry, each individual having developed unique experience from their previous backgrounds and careers in commercial banking, lending, or accounting. These leaders have been very successful in attracting and retaining a highly talented and skilled staff.
In addition to incredible loyalty, the Geneva team has seen impressive growth in recent years. One third of the team has been with the company less than two years, an indicator of its rapid expansion, and of these new employees, over 80 percent were newly-created positions. Of those who have been with the company a bit longer, the average tenure is over eight years.
Located in the smaller community of Alexandria, Geneva surprisingly has no problem finding and hiring quality employees – relatively rare during the ongoing labor shortage in the U.S. The company has become well known as a fun place to work in the area and when there is a job opening available, it tends to be filled quickly by another employee’s referral.
Geneva is a firm believer in reinvesting in youth and promoting strong business skills, which will allow it to continue finding committed, hardworking, capable employees in the future. For that reason, it has placed a lot of value on its internships that expose young adults to the daily operations at Geneva and give them the opportunity to work in various departments throughout the company. The company also invests its time and money each year into a scholarship competition with the local high school students involved in DECA, a program that provides business education through various competitions. The purpose is to inspire young business-minded students and help them develop some of the skills needed to become the community’s future business leaders.
Geneva has a four pillar philosophy outlining the importance of integrity, innovation, excellence, and service. Its laser focus on providing personalized service is meant to build lifelong business relationships that are mutually beneficial. “When you call Geneva, a real person right in our Minnesota office answers the phone,” says Cavers. “We work with each customer individually and we review each and every credit application independently, understanding that a one-size-fits-all scoring model doesn’t always paint an accurate picture of someone’s financial situation.” Every handshake at Geneva is considered the beginning of a partnership that grows stronger with each expansion or new equipment purchase. “It’s not always about the money or the bottom line; it’s about helping each other grow.”
The owner of Geneva has always valued philanthropic efforts and considers it a responsibility to give back to the community and others in need. The company set up an internal team called the Community Reinvestment Committee (CRC) to cover all charitable requests and each quarter, several people volunteer to serve on the committee to review and direct all donation options based on a monthly budget. “Through the CRC, we’re able to donate to many causes local to our Alexandria, MN area, from individual financial hardships to medical/health benefits, school initiatives, and so many more. To date, the CRC has donated nearly $900,000 to the communities of our employees,” says Cavers. There are also numerous team members at Geneva that have been a part of a Lunch Buddy program for years and they travel to local elementary schools to spend time during lunch with a student that has been matched as a buddy.
Overall, the banking industry has evolved tremendously in the last decade and Geneva has had to keep up with the rapid changes. People typically no longer want to apply for a loan in an office setting with a banker; they want the process to move more quickly and be able to complete forms online or by mobile phone rather than having to print, sign, and fax documents. Geneva provides electronic documents for its transactions, online statuses, and online approvals to stay up to date with its customers’ expectations and remain competitive.
As a small business itself, Geneva Capital is flexible because it understands the regular hardships and challenges that face its customers. The plans for the future of the company are to expand and grow without eroding the foundation or values that have allowed it to reach success. The reputation of its unparalleled levels of customer service, cutting edge technology, and competitive financing solutions for its customers will continue to build repeat business and long-term relationships for Geneva. “When it comes down to it, we’re just real people, trying to help real people grow their businesses,” says Cavers.