Imagine for a moment you’re Phillip Dworsky. You’ve got this once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy back the family business. Of course, it’s emotional. After all, it was the “family” business. But the seller is only giving you 10 days due diligence to close the deal. Your family bank tells you your “relationship” with them doesn’t matter anymore. Your 84-year-old dad thinks you’re crazy to consider it. Your good friend and mentor’s lawyer advises him to “stay as far away as possible.” The clock’s ticking. What would you do? Why, of course, you’d find yourself a lender, an empty cubicle and a few cookies loaded with M&Ms®.
Long before cubicles and cookies, this story began 104 years ago when brothers William and Phillip’s grandparents founded Northeast Minneapolis business, Dworsky Barrel Company, a wooden drum “cooperage” shop. Under their father and uncle’s watchful eye, Consolidated Container Company grew into a profitable business. After being sold in 1998, the business merged with a consortium of four regional drum and pallet companies to create a public company. (Which was then sold twice more.) Lack of profitability, low employee morale and strained customer and supplier relationships nearly forced the company into liquidation. Despite this, William and Phillip were excited about buying back the old company.
With only 10 days, Phillip and William wasted little time. In short order, they contacted the family bank, their 84-year-old father—and finally a good friend and mentor. Ignoring his lawyer’s advice, the friend called Fidelity Bank. Because of his long-standing relationship with Fidelity, he was able to structure an arrangement—a bridge loan guarantee until the brothers could secure permanent financing. “It was our friend who had the relationship,” said Phillip. “He told Fidelity he was standing behind us. That’s really all it took.” Day five: the brothers were introduced to Fidelity Bank.
During the entire process, the seller kept nipping at their heels. Was this a legitimate deal? Could they pull it off in 10 days? Fidelity’s response? “We’re behind them. There will be a deal.” The “deal” included finding Phillip an empty cubicle at the bank, so he could be a stone’s throw away from their lender to answer questions and get it done. Ignoring stomach growls, they worked through lunch. Luckily, it happened to be the bank’s monthly “Cookie Day,” so they recharged on M&Ms and chocolate chips. With a little sugar boost, Fidelity completed the underwriting and loan structuring in record time.
Since then, the Dworskys have rebuilt the business, taken care of environmental matters and repaired relationships among customers, suppliers and employees. As far as Fidelity goes, Phillip likens their relationship to the banking relationships his dad used to have—open, honest, direct and proactive.
Consolidated Container Company is well over a $16 million dollar company today with a little help from Fidelity’s Intellectual Capital.™ And a few cookies.
M&Ms is a registered trademark of Mars Incorporated. Intellectual Capital is a trademark of Fidelity Bank.