In the midst of one of the worst economic disruptions in recent history, Alpine Food Distributing Inc., one of the largest food redistribution companies in the western United States, has kept its commitment to its employees and its customers and safely walked through the pandemic, emerging on the other side of 2020 positioned for continued growth and success.
It has been a difficult year in all respects. And like many other Oregon businesses, in early 2020, Alpine Foods, based in Milwaukie, Oregon, was grappling with the effects of the pandemic, which has hit the restaurant industry with intensity. particular.
The company aimed to secure financing that would support its business, employees and customers through a difficult time, while continuing to maintain transparent operations to ensure the delivery of essential goods to communities in ten states.
What began as a search for a solution to the financial strains resulting from the pandemic prompted Alpine to reach out to key partners to discuss potential short and long term options for strategic and operational improvements.
The government’s economic lifeline, a PPP loan, was one of the short-term financial tools the food distributor was seeking, and the company seemed perfectly suited for such a loan. The 40-year-old company also had to look beyond the immediate critical need and position itself for continued long-term success.
“Before the pandemic, we thought we had a good relationship with the banks and expected them to help us. So we were surprised to learn that they wouldn’t help us get PPP funding, ”recalls Shawn Hood, Managing Director, Alpine Food Distribution.
Alpine was able to expand its Milwaukie-based facility from 280,000 to 500,000 square feet by working with Umpqua Bank to consolidate lines of credit and refinance.
When strategic partners matter most
When disruption forces businesses to pivot, having strategic financial partners is critical, especially if changes with financial implications need to be made quickly. Recognizing how integral businesses are to the health of local economies and communities, Umpqua Bank felt a great urgency to help Oregon businesses as the pandemic took hold. This approach helped support Alpine during the early stages of the pandemic and move forward.
“We have recognized the importance of what is at stake for businesses and communities and have chosen to make our resources available to all businesses, not just current clients,” said Jonathan Dale, director of mid-market banking for the Greater Montreal area. Pacific Northwest from Umpqua Bank. “Partnership is always important, but especially during tough times and we are committed to being there for the business community. “
In 2020 alone, the bank processed nearly 17,000 PPP loans, facilitating approximately $ 2 billion in SBA financing and saving more than 250,000 jobs in West Coast communities. And by being one of the first banks in the country to accept PPP requests, Umpqua was able to offer immediate support to clients like Alpine with a focus on long-term partnerships.
“They called us back and the relationship grew. We were in contact daily for two to three weeks and were introduced to the management team, ”says Hood. “We were able to keep our employees and had no layoffs during this period. It is 100% thanks to our collaboration with Umpqua that we did not have to take this difficult step.
And the work didn’t stop there. Alpine worked with Umpqua to analyze all levels of its operations, strategically streamlining where possible to reduce overheads and increase efficiency.
Structure operations for long-term success
The disruption is forcing companies to take a closer look at what they are doing and how they are doing it. As a result, many companies have emerged from the pandemic more efficient and prepared for growth. Alpine worked closely with Umpqua to look beyond the immediate and most urgent need for capital, diving deep into the company’s growth strategy for the years to come, examining its equipment, facilities and operations. By consolidating lines of credit and refinancing quickly, Alpine was able to grow from 280,000 to 500,000 square feet of space by adapting to growing demand and the need to increase inventory given the challenges of the chain. supply.
“They helped us finance and buy a new building, and they were able to get it up and running in 30 days. It’s unheard of, especially in the midst of a pandemic, ”says Hood. “We also had outdated software that we were using with our credit card provider, and Umpqua helped us streamline some of these important processes. ”
Despite the disruptions and challenges, Alpine has made important strategic changes that have helped it position itself for continued success.
Alpine Food Distributing Inc. has secured funding through Umpqua Bank to maintain transparent operations during the pandemic to ensure delivery of essential goods to communities in 10 states.
Navigate the future together
According to Hood, the Alpine experience has reinforced the importance of a close working relationship with partners who share values.
“Umpqua’s values align with who we are and our values. That’s really what attracted me to the way they work, ”says Hood. “They genuinely care about their customers and provide access to leadership and expertise when we need it. “
Thanks in part to strong management and strong partnerships, a few months later Alpine was able to see the challenges of 2020 as an opportunity to optimize operations and emerge stronger than ever. Meanwhile, Umpqua continues to help clients like Alpine see corners and adapt to all circumstances.
“I really use financial institutions for support,” Hood concludes. “Having someone behind you, being there to support you and getting through some of the challenges helps us make better business decisions. “
Whatever changes or potential disruption the future may bring, companies with mutually tenacious and goal-driven strategic partners will help make the adjustments necessary to stabilize and grow.
Brand Stories are paid content articles that allow Oregon Business advertisers to share information about their organizations and interact with readers on business and public policy issues. The stories are produced in-house by the Oregon Business marketing department. For more information, contact associate editor Courtney Kutzman.