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An Interview with Kyle Bartholomew, CEO & Garage Superintendent Bart’s Asphalt, and Michelle Brasseur, SVP Ann Arbor Market President, Bank Michigan
Launching a new business in the midst of COVID was a challenging time to get started. Kyle Bartholomew is one of the people who succeeded, thanks to his exceptional skills, hard work and dedication. He found a need in his community and sought to deliver a solution for it. Not only did the business survive but it took great shape and is prepared for the future. Kyle's success story demonstrates how your new business can thrive through understanding and optimizing every component of it. With a strong work ethic and guidance from Bank Michigan, Kyle was able to get the financing he needed to help his business grow.
Kyle’s business journey begins at Spring Arbor University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting. Upon graduation, he went to work at a public accounting firm. After a year at the firm, he found his calling in asphalt repair. With his business plan set in motion, he enlisted the help of three former teammates from the Spring Arbor University basketball team.
Bart’s Asphalt LLC specializes in the repair and maintenance of asphalt for commercial properties in the Jackson, MI area.
Kyle Bartholomew: Even though I am the business owner, I am very hands-on and like to be involved in the day-to-day operations. Currently, I’m serving double-duty as the garage superintendent, as well as overseeing five of our work crews during the summer months. It gives me the confidence that I truly have my finger on the pulse of our business. I am responsible for hiring, training, crew preparedness, material quality, and ultimately, ensuring overall job quality.
Kyle enjoys being a part of the action and takes pride in having a role in all aspects of Bart’s Asphalt. When he's not busy leading his team, he is focused on sourcing quality materials, planning the next project, and ensuring all work exceeds the standards of their clients.
Kyle Bartholomew: I knew that I needed to secure financing to help with the expansion and growth of my business. Luckily, I was connected to Bank Michigan by Tim Creech, who is a local realtor that manages Five Star Realty based in Brooklyn, MI. He assured me that Bank Michigan was a community friendly bank that partners with local businesses and provides exceptional support and guidance on securing financing for business expansions.
When starting his company, Kyle handled most aspects of the business on his own. He was in the garage, training his team, he was managing five crews, and he was doing all the accounting for their day-to-day operations. Things were going well. But there came a point where his continued success meant more clients and bigger projects. Kyle knew that Bart’s Asphalt LLC needed outside financing to upgrade their equipment and improve the company’s capacity and capability to take on more jobs. This is when he decided to find a bank to partner with. Tim’s great advice helped Kyle connect with Michelle Brassuer, who helped him throughout his loan process.
Kyle Bartholomew: When first reaching out to Bank Michigan, I had the privilege of working with Michelle Brasseur. She was exceptionally genuine in wanting to understand how my business functions and how Bank Michigan can help me obtain my goals.
Michelle helped Kyle find lending solutions that were tailored to his business goals and could help Bart’s Asphalt LLC reach its potential. Since working together, he has secured two SBA 7(A) loans, and the success of his business has boosted their annual revenue by over 400% over 24 months.
Kyle Bartholomew: Michelle has been quick to make time for any of my questions and help find the best lending solutions for my specific business needs. She has provided us with transparency, preparedness, educational elements, and guidance with every Bank Michigan interaction.
At Bank Michigan, one of the things that Kyle particularly likes about banking there is that he’s not just an account number; he’s got a relationship with the bank and they treat him (and all their customers) as people. Kyle reciprocates this respect toward the bank. It’s a perfect partnership that creates growth for his business!
With a business that was formed at the start of the pandemic, there were a lot of hurdles and the possibility of financial uncertainty. Luckily, the partnership between Kyle and Bank Michigan made it possible for informed decisions to be made when an issue arose.
A significant obstacle Kyle encountered was that Bart’s Asphalt LLC relies on sourcing materials that are solely derived from oil and petroleum. Due to the effects that COVID-19 had on global markets and the supply chain, the 30-day pricing of materials became extremely volatile. This meant that Kyle had to be prepared to make swift decisions to purchase materials when prices were the lowest. Luckily, his astute bookkeeping and attention to detail made it possible for Bart’s Asphalt to always have funds on hand when there was an opportunity to make a purchase.
Over the past 18 months, Kyle’s business has seen other unfortunate circumstances that could have halted his progress. While he was working through his first SBA 7(A) loan, his garage was broken into and 100% of his equipment was either stolen or had irreparable damage. That event alone could have meant the end for most small businesses.
Kyle Bartholomew: We were a very small operation at this point, and Bank Michigan was very patient with me as I worked through the insurance process.
However, with the help of the bank, he was able to face these circumstances with peace of mind knowing the team was working to minimize his downtime.
Bart's Asphalt LLC. has grown tremendously since partnering with Bank Michigan and obtaining two SBA 7(A) loans, with annual business revenue increasing 400%. This success has afforded Kyle the opportunity to onboard new clients and complete bigger projects. But he won’t be changing his hands-on style. In fact, Bart’s Asphalt is adding a controller to their team so that Kyle can worry less about day-to-day operations and have more time to focus his efforts in the garage, where he trains and manages his employees.
Kyle Bartholomew: At the moment, we are perfectly content with where we are as a business. We are trying to improve our systems and processes to become increasingly efficient to be able to better serve our customers.
If you would like to learn more about Bart’s Asphalt LLC or request a quote, please visit our website at BartsAsphalt.com, call our office at (517) 888-3208, or email us at Kyle@BartsAsphalt.com. And, if your business is looking for a better banking partner to help with your financial needs, we’d love to talk with you too. Get in touch today, or visit any of our Southeast Michigan banking locations and let’s see what we can do together!
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