Stocking up for success

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A BFS loan helped this mobile tool retailer snag time-sensitive discounts to get more inventory for less.

Who
Wally Newcomb
What
Star Tools of Houston
Where
Houston, Texas
When
In business since 2006
Why (how BFS helped)
  • Buying inventory
  • Improving cash flow
  • Paying down debt
  • Paying for unexpected repairs

Wally Newcomb is a long-time entrepreneur with a pretty unique business – he sells tools from his truck. After spending the first part of his career in automotive dealerships, he got tired of working for other people. So after meeting up with a friend who was a dealer for Cornwell Tools, he decided to do the same and started his own small business: Star Tools of Houston, a mobile tool distribution operation.

“You are IT when you’re on your own, so there’s a bit more stress,” he says. “But that’s balanced with a lot of freedom. I take lunch when and where I want. Running errands or making doctor’s appointments, I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission. The basic independence is something that’s really important to me.”

Wally has a 16-foot truck stocked with tools, disposable gloves, and other items automotive technicians use in the course of a week. He drives around Houston, visiting dealerships, body shops, and independent shops, bringing supplies right to his clients in a super-convenient way. This one-man business has been a success for Wally, and he really enjoys working for himself, on his own terms. But like any small business, he runs into the occasional challenge around cash flow – and having enough capital on hand to buy inventory when the price is right.

“I was able to buy several thousand dollars’ worth more tools than if I hadn’t had the cash reserve.”

“There’s always a certain ebb and flow to cash flow in this business,” he says. “A while back, mine had reached a point where I needed to make additional purchases and had expenses that were kind of creeping up on me. Just a combination of things I needed a bit of a hand with. It seemed like a good idea to get some extra funding to help out.”

The cash flow challenges Wally faced cropped up in a number of situations – ones that would probably be familiar to any entrepreneur. An unexpected repair for his truck. Getting behind on bills. And needing extra money to purchase inventory at sales conventions, where special deals and deep discounts are available, but only for a limited time.

Getting more stock on the truck

“I went to an annual rally and was able to buy several thousand dollars’ worth more tools than I would have been comfortable with if I hadn’t had the cash reserve,” he says. “I’ve mostly needed the loans to buy inventory, and sometimes as a bit of a hedge on erratic cash flow. Tools and cash are effectively the inventory of a tool distributor, so a buffer for fluctuations is useful.”

Wally’s first loan was for around $8,000, which he used for tool purchases and to cover other operational needs that would have been tough to pay for otherwise. He’s stuck with BFS ever since, and happily recommends it to others, including some of the independent shops he services and other colleagues in the tool trade. He really likes the fact that borrowing with BFS is easy. Over the course of multiple small business loans, he hasn’t run into any difficulties – and is happy to keep coming back to BFS whenever he needs financing. 

Wally has one piece of advice for other business owners: be conservative, especially with purchasing, because it can get out of hand really quickly. But luckily, he knows he has a dependable backup, just in case.

“BFS Capital is a great fit for businesses that need a little bit of assistance for things they’d otherwise have a hard time covering,” he says. “I recommend them to my customers all the time.”

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