Fulfilling a dream Featured

10:06am EDT July 22, 2002

After seven years of leasing warehouse space for his custom-fulfillment business, Bo Hindall was getting a powerful itch to buy it. Hindall, owner of Inquiry Systems Inc. in Grandview, recently got his wish when he landed a U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loan of $450,000.

Hindall used the SBA 504 loan program, which helps business owners buy land and construct or purchase buildings. He provided 10 percent of the financing for the 16,900-square-foot facility on Goodale Boulevard and Oxley Road. The remainder came from his lender, Fifth Third Bank. It took about three months to get the loan, he says.

Inquiry Systems processes advertising sales inquiries, those cards that pop up in trade magazines and shows. To fill requests promptly, the company maintains a supply of sales literature and promotional items ∠ from coffee mugs to golf balls.

Inquiry Systems also offers 14 computer-generated reports that allow a company to see how well its advertising dollars are working. Hindall notes it is vital to track the "bounce-back card," the request that comes back after the first order is filled. "They're the hot prospects," he says. "They have an above-average interest in a product and about 71 percent of them make a purchase decision within 120 days."

A fast-growing aspect of Inquiry Systems is light assembly and hand collation, often of three-ring binders and pocket folders. Sometimes these items wind up in the warehouse, waiting for orders. The company employs six full-time and 20 part-time employees and has about 15 clients, including Ashland Chemical Co., Bath and Body Works and OSU Hospitals.

Hindall praises the counselors at Columbus Countywide Development Corp., a nonprofit agency that assists business owners in getting SBA loans, for their help in managing the paperwork and scheduling the closing associated with the loan. "It would have been a daunting process without them," he says.

SBA lending activity in Central Ohio

Glassburn Body Shop Inc., Westerville, $1,250,000

Microtel Inn, Grove City, $1,000,000

David J. Downey & Associates Inc., Gahanna, $600,000

Inquiry Systems Inc., Columbus, $450,000

Dee Printing Inc., Columbus, $273,500

B. Ryan Carpets, Columbus, $259,000

C. L. Becker & Associates Inc., Columbus, $250,000

Dumar/Huntson Paving Inc., Columbus, $213,000

Functional Training Services Inc., Columbus, $210,000

Buffalos Pine Cafe, Newark, $100,000

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