LEAVENWORTH, Wash. – For more than a decade Mike Arnold was one of the most successful insurance agents in Washington, specializing in writing high cash-value life insurance policies.
After the recession hit in 2008, “It was harder and harder to pick up the phone and find the next client,” he said. In February 2013 he quit.
For the holiday season that year, he took a job working at a distribution center for FedEx Ground. The temporary work became full-time as a driver for a private contractor who owned several FedEx Ground delivery routes in north central Washington. In 2015, when his boss considered selling the routes, Arnold bought them.
Small business center helps answer purchase questions
There were obvious advantages to buying a business he had already been working at, but there also were concerns. Was the sale price reasonable? How should the purchase be structured? How much would he need to borrow? What could he expect in revenue and what, exactly, would expenses be?
For some of that information, Arnold turned to the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Wenatchee, Wash.
“What we wanted was a professional opinion,” Arnold said. “Another set of eyes to look at it.”
The Washington SBDC is a network of more than two dozen business advisors in communities across the state helping small business owners and entrepreneurs start, grow or transition their businesses through no-cost, confidential advising. The center receives support from Washington State University, the U.S. Small Business Administration and other institutions of economic development and higher education.
Loan, financial projections ‘spot on’
Jim Fletcher earned an MBA from WSU and has been an SBDC advisor since 2002. He assisted Arnold in several areas, including reviewing bank statements, putting together financial spreadsheets and creating operating budgets for 2015 and 2016.
“He was so easy to work with,” Arnold said. Fletcher “zeroed in on exactly what we needed to do” to meet loan requirements, and he provided referrals to other professionals to meet the requirements for a FedEx Ground contractor. Fletcher helped map out cash flow projections to make sure Arnold’s new company, Bounder Parcel Services, would have enough capital to keep running smoothly.
Not only were the documents Arnold presented to Cashmere Valley Bank “spot on,” he said, but the financial projections have turned out to be “right on the mark.”
This year Arnold will negotiate a new contract with FedEx Ground, and he intends to consult Fletcher again: “We plan on using Jim Fletcher’s professional insight to our current and future cash flow numbers,” he said.
Family business eliminates stress
As a business owner, Arnold is up at about 3:30 a.m. reviewing paperwork for the day’s deliveries, and he generally gets home between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., often with more paperwork waiting for him.
“I am a true hands-on business owner and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said.
His drivers work together like a family, Arnold said, and his own family is part of the team. His wife, Karen, handles the bookkeeping and his son, Harrison, washes trucks during the summer months.
Three years ago Arnold was writing some of the largest life insurance policies in Washington, but the stress on his own life was taking a toll. Now, he said, his wife and son have seen that stress disappear.
“You know how sometimes you just fall into something and you know it’s right?” he said. “That’s what this is. I wish I had found it 20 years ago.”
By Hope Belli Tinney, Washington SBDC
Mike Arnold, Bounder Parcel Services, 425-330-1111, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Fletcher, Washington SBDC in Wenatchee, Wash., 509-888-7252, email@example.com