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SBA 504 financing creates new growth opportunity for Brite Ideas

Your paychecks have bounced for an entire month. Nerves and stress set in as you weigh the implications of this new reality for your family and future. Groceries go on the credit card and you wonder how you’ll pay the mortgage. Still, you dutifully continue showing up to work because, really, your options are limited. Then the day comes - you show up and the doors are locked. No one is around to explain the situation, and you know, there is no more job. While working for a former employer, Greg Christy, CEO and Co-Founder of Brite Ideas in Southern California, found himself at that locked door, with clients expecting him to show up to produce an event the next day, and he and his wife Julie, knew just what to do.

As they stood on the precipice of that career cliff in the early 1980s, The Christy’s had all of the knowledge, skills and business relationships that they needed to begin their own successful business. What they were lacking, and what was so profoundly provided by that locked door, was the kick-start. And so, with the loving support of his wife, Greg made an awkward phone call to his client, explaining the situation and then offering to produce the event for them without the backing of his former employer. The client readily agreed, having only ever dealt with Greg to begin with. The next day, Christy loaded up the back of his Chevy Astrovan, and Brite Ideas was born.

Greg and Julie Christy both graduated from California State University Fullerton with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Theatrical Lighting Design, and the world has truly become their stage. In 1987, not long after the beginning of Brite Ideas, Greg secured the contract to design illumination for 70,000 square feet of tented party space for the Inaugural Opening of the Orange County Performing Arts Center. For his work at the event, he received a tremendous amount of attention, and was awarded the Gala Award Winner for the “Most Imaginative Use of Lighting” by Special Events magazine. According to Julie, “The phone hasn’t stopped ringing since. We haven’t had to spend a dime on advertising.” Many more awards have come through the years and their company has seen tremendous growth.

Small business loans have been a part of Brite Idea’s success story from the very beginning. This was a challenging reality for CFO and Co-Founder, Julie Christy. Brought up by a CPA and believing very strongly in a cash-only, no credit ideology, each financial jump that they’ve taken to grow their business through the years has been heavily weighed and leveraged against some very old-school rules. In early 2014, they connected with Southern California based, Enterprise Funding Corporation, to obtain an SBA 504 loan in order to purchase additional lighting technology and renovate a 24,000 square-foot commercial building in Rancho Santa Margarita. Their previous 11,000 square-foot building in Foothill Ranch was no longer enough space for their growing business and was fraught with limitations that hindered effective business practices. The $1,563,000 in SBA financing and $1,902,000 from Capital Bank of San Juan Capistrano allowed them to purchase a building with dock-high loading and has cut their loading time by two-thirds. The central Orange County location has easy access to freeways and the Los Angeles and San Diego regions. They are looking to add an additional 4-6 employees to the 24 employees already on staff.

The hallways at their new building are lined with pictures that they could charge an entrance fee to tell; Elton John singing in the pouring rain in Hawaii, Cirque Du Soleil performers hanging from Foy rigs attached to a tent structure high up in the Hollywood hills, party tents at the Cannes Film Festival, and having only one day to set up a full production for a Microsoft dinner event for 5,000 people at the Hollywood Bowl. The event that is most memorable, and truly shows the heart of this company, was held on September 11, 2001 in Laguna Beach. A New York-based banking company had flown all of their staff, with the exception of the mailroom staff, out to California for a corporate retreat from their offices in the World Trade Center. Brite Ideas was in charge of producing the event. As the nightmare of 9/11 unfolded, the staff and owners of Brite Ideas did everything they could to help as these New Yorkers watched their office building, workplace, colleagues and friends literally crash down before their eyes. There was no charge for the event that day. There was also no way for their clients to get home to their families and loved ones, as all air traffic had been halted. So, Greg pulled from all of his resources to get enough tour buses together to drive the entire company back across the country.

The SBA 504 loan from Enterprise Funding Corp. was the first time Brite Ideas had utilized the 504 loan program. Julie found working with Enterprise Funding to be a very positive experience, “They actively wanted us to succeed to acquire the funding for growth, they helped us with every step of the program and we were never left in the dark. I had no idea that the President of EFC would actually come to my business! I would recommend them to other businesses looking for financing.”

Is your business at a crossroads and in need of financing to further your growth? At Enterprise Funding, we’d love to talk with you about an SBA 504 loan. It’s the perfect option for any for-profit small business looking to purchase commercial real estate or a long-term, fixed asset. An SBA 504 loan offers a low 10 percent down payment and low, fixed rates. Interested? Please give us a call at (909) 792-3803. We’d love to get you prequalified and give you an idea what your payments would be.

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