Developing independence Featured

10:04am EDT July 22, 2002
With the expiration of her five-year lease looming, Maria Tray was anxious to move her software-development company from its high-cost quarters in a Dublin corporate park.

Thanks to a U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loan of $625,000, Tray-the 50-year-old president of Shared Resources Inc.-got her wish. Just three days before her lease expired, she relocated to a 5,500-square-foot site she built with SBA assistance on Sawmill Road and Federated Boulevard, about a quarter-mile east of the Dublin Village Shopping Center.

Curiously, she did not move to get more space. The new site is just 1,100 square feet larger than the Dublin office, and Tray plans to rent out 1,500 square feet to a tenant. She says she is able to more efficiently use the space at the new location, and adds that owning a facility gives her more control over her expenses and lends her company a sense of longevity and stability.

Tray got her funding through the SBA 504 loan program, which is designed to help established business owners build or purchase company sites. Under its guidelines, she came up with 10 percent of the loan as a down payment from her personal finances. Tray says the requirement was half of what she had anticipated.

Shared Resources began as a partnership in 1987 with Tray, a partner and a single client. Within two weeks of incorporating, the twosome hired their first software-development associate.

Today, the company has 13 active clients, including Huntington Bank, Nationwide Insurance and Highlights for Children. With 55 employees, including 10 in a Cincinnati regional office, Tray links the company's success to providing quality customer service.

"If a client comes to us with an issue, we see that as a failure, because we should always identify problems before the client does," she says.

Tray credits Columbus Countywide Development Corp. and her lender, Champaign National Bank in Dublin, for helping her get through the loan process in about six weeks. She found Columbus Countywide's checklists for the application and closing procedures especially helpful.

"CCDC knew we were on a tight time frame for the approval process," says Tray. "They held my hand all the way through."

SBA lending activity in Central Ohio

Quick Solutions Inc., Columbus, $961,000

SEM Partners Inc., Westerville, $800,000

Shared Resources Inc., Columbus, $625,000

HealthServe LLC, Columbus, $600,000

G.L. Gentry Electric, Columbus, $165,000

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration, Columbus District Office