Laura Douds Frum's success as SBA program manager of The Huntington National Bank shows in the numbers.
Frum, who joined the bank in 1996, has centralized Huntingtons SBA processing and brought the bank to its status of most active SBA lender in Central Ohio in terms of number of loans.
Also in fiscal year 1999, Huntington increased its SBA lending by 51 percent over the previous year.
The evidence continues in all six states where Huntington has a commercial lending presence. Consider Florida, where the bank received its preferred Lender Program status in July 1999.
Weve gone from only doing 10 loans to being third in the state in a little under a year, Frum says, referring to the 103 loans so far.
Nationally, Frum guided Huntington from its 41st place spot to 23rd in terms of most active SBA lenders.
As an officer of Huntington National Bank, Laura truly embodies the character of a dedicated financial services advocate, committed to the preservation of quality assistance when providing small business financing, wrote Huntington Vice President Jerry Wittington, who nominated Frum for the SBAs Financial Services Advocate of the Year award.
Frum says she was given the task of centralizing Huntingtons SBA loan processing, which has made the loan approval process much more cost effective and efficient for the bank and provided more consistency for its portfolio.
Wittington says Frum led the fight to elevate the visibility of the SBA program to the executive level of the bank while maintaining her commitment of providing access to local economic development initiatives.
Frum says that because SBA loans are sometimes not a large moneymaker for banks, she had to convince executives of other advantages of the program.
I think three years later, the benefits are paying off, she says. Weve gotten a lot more awards, a lot more visibility. I am regularly asked to speak at different functions.
For example, Columbus Countywide Development Corp. named Frum the 1999 Lender of the Year for her support of the 504 loan program throughout Central Ohio; last year she spoke at the Florida state SBA lender conference.
I think that overall it just increases the perception of Huntington in the marketplace that were a full-service lender, that we can even help start-ups. We can help any business at any level of existence, Frum says.
Frum takes the opportunity to network with others in her field through trade associations such as the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders and the Robert Morris Association, which focuses on credit. Shes a member of the Worthington Area Business & Professional Women and serves on the Columbus Countywide Development Corp.s loan review committee.
Frums advice to business owners applying for funding? Get a good business plan.
A lot of times we see plans come in that are from great ideas but havent been thought through from every angle we know of because we look at 200 loans a month, she says, adding that in those cases, she often sends out an underwriter to follow up.
The other big thing weve been seeing lately is the entrepreneurs that have great ideas and worked through the business plans, but the way the economy is moving so rapidly, they dont have a good accounting or finance person on board, so things get out of control really quickly, Frum says.
That is one thing were focusing on: Have someone in-house to make sure you can control the sales process a little bit better.
Joan Slattery Wall (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate editor of SBN Columbus.