START UP: A Gouda Partnership With SFB
Security Financial Bank + Marieke Gouda: the community bank helping small businesses make it big
The biggest challenge for entrepreneurs with a great idea is often finding a financial institution that will back their vision. But for Security Financial Bank (SFB), helping entrepreneurs pursue their dreams is what they are all about.
Take it from Marieke Penterman, founder of Marieke Gouda, a local – and national – favorite for all things cheese, who got her business off the ground thanks to support from SFB, a local community financial institution.
Before the numerous national awards and dozens of retailers across the country, Marieke was chasing the Marieke Gouda dream, and it wasn’t without its struggles. After hitting a wall with a previous lender, she and her team knew they just needed a partner who would believe in their dream. That’s when Security Financial Bank stepped in.
“We needed a lender that would not only be a partner in the good but especially in times that you need them when things are not going so well,” Marieke explained. “In SFB, we not only found a partner that are experts in their field but want to learn about your business – and even more importantly, the people that are behind it.”
Marieke recalled being surprised by initial conversations with SFB when they not only asked her and her team about the overall company and financials, but they also inquired about their goals and values. By their second meeting, Marieke realized Security Financial Bank was the right partner.
“We realized we weren’t just a number,” she said. “When I mentioned that I wanted a partner for those tough times, SFB has proven to be that partner.”
From Marieke Gouda’s startup phase to times when milk prices were low and feed prices were high to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marieke has realized SFB is who her business will “grow old” with.
“We went through a lot together and the moment I, and the team, realized we wanted to grow old with SFB was when times were tough and the CEO came to visit. His first question was not about cashflow or other financials topics, but ‘How are you guys holding up?’” Marieke recalled.
Curt Van Auken, president of SFB’s Eau Claire market, emphasized the importance of customer care. “Customers know they’re important here,” he said. “I work with not just businesses, but the people behind the businesses – the owners and employees.”
Many entrepreneurs and businesses looking for lending partners find themselves in similar situations to Marieke: hitting a dead-end with a lender and feeling stuck or not knowing how to make their business dreams a reality. Security Financial Bank’s experts, like Curt, make it a priority to lay out the logistics, answer any questions, and get to know clients to ensure those dreams reach fruition.
Starting a business is no small feat, and neither is laying down the groundwork. When Security Financial Bank was originally founded more than 85 years ago in Durand during the Great Depression, it was done by local business owners and farmers who knew that. Since then, SFB has grown to more than $850 million in assets with locations stretching from the administrative office in Eau Claire, to Bloomer, Durand, Alma Center, Black River Falls, Ladysmith and River Falls.
Curt explained initial meetings between entrepreneurs and SFB begin with an introductory meeting. “The first meeting is to understand each other and for us to answer any questions, make a list of things we might not be able to answer, go back and find them, and provide it.”
Then SFB can begin laying out a business structure, like putting together a pricing model, working through a banking proposal tailored to each client’s situation, and continuing to answer questions clients have.
“A lot of people say, ‘What are the rules here?’ I say, ‘This isn’t about us, this is about you and what you want,’” Curt said. “We certainly work within governmental guidelines, but it’s not our way or the highway. We design each proposal and plan based on the client. We’re not bringing what we think a customer might want. We’re bringing in what we know they want because we built it all together.”
With a bank-wide goal of being the best business and agriculture bank in the market, SFB are the Bankers Who Believe in You.
Marieke’s dreams continue to grow as well as she is set to open The House of Gouda in Eau Claire next month. The new retail storefront will feature custom charcuterie boards featuring cheeses, meats and other treats. You can bet the Security Financial Bank staff will be there cheering her on.
To learn more about how SFB can help your business, visit sfbank.com or call (715) 833-7685. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
Security Financial Bank
Location: 4217 Southtowne Drive, Eau Claire
Phone: (715) 833-7685