Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Online Business Lending Industry

Posted by leetabas

When TABASFUNDING was founded in 2002, there were not a lot of alternatives for small business lending. Businesses could go to the bank, but banks often didn’t want to lend to small businesses. The paperwork is mostly the same, whether for small or large business borrowing.  Often, small businesses have sketchy financial information available.  It is hard to put bad information into shape, if you are a banker.

Businesses could also borrow on credit cards. I read a great bankers story about a guitar rental business owner, unconventional looking, who got turned down every time he applied in person for a business loan, but was approved for $150,000 of credit card loans at the same bank without ever going into a bank branch.

Within the last 5 years, there has been a proliferation of online business lenders.  The benefits of this type of loan are less paperwork and a quick funding time.  Keep in mind that the number one reason that businesses fail is not quality control or theft; it is simply that they run out of money.  For a desperate business owner, fast money has a lot of appeal.

The dark side to these loans is their breathtaking high interest rates. Interest payments are front loaded, so that even if the loan is paid off early, the business has paid the interest for the entire loan term.  Another negative is the very short repayment terms, with 6 months being common. Online business lenders obtain authorization to charge the business account DAILY for payments. While a $200 payment may not seem like much, but we’re talking $200 DAILY. That type of aggressive payment is a killer for most businesses.

What seems to happen to these high interest/short repayment business loans is that they either go into default, or given time, they are refinanced with banks or other lenders that have more reasonable repayment terms.  TABASFUNDING has done some refinancing of the quick repayment loans. We would be glad to talk with you about your situation, so give us a call, 610-896-2400 or email us at Lee@Tabasfunding.com.

 

Old Hotels

Posted by leetabas

Spring 2018

Nancy and I love staying at elegant old hotels, built in scenic out-of-the-way locations, where the destination is the objective.  Some examples are the Grand Hotel, built on an island in Lake Huron, and the Balsams Hotel, pressed against Canada in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. Closer to home, we like Skytop Lodge, which offers broad views of the Pennsylvania Poconos. Our most recent old hotel visit was to The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.  My parents took me there several times as a child. We continued the tradition, taking our children there 35 years ago.  The photo on the right is of our two oldest children (now 38 and 40), in front of one of the Greenbrier’s cottages; on the left, is me 35 years later.

Many of these hotels were built by railroads. In order to visit the scenic location, guests traveled by rail and stayed in railroad owned hotels. The Greenbrier still has a train station, and is rail accessible from Washington DC. It was owned for many years by CSX railroad and its predecessors.

Our “bucket list” purpose in visiting the Greenbrier was to see “The Bunker,” a cold war era hideout built to accommodate the House and Senate in the event of nuclear war.  Also, we were curious to see if the hotel still met our high, 35-year-old expectations.

“West Virginia Mountaineers” isn’t just a slogan. The Greenbrier is nestled in mountainous territory, split by the Howard River.  In 1958, during the Eisenhower administration, Congress approached the Railroad with the idea of building The Bunker. Cleverly, it was built as part of the “West Virginia Wing” room expansion that included meeting facilities. Rather than hide The Bunker, several of the rooms, including part that looks like a large exposition area and an auditorium type area were (and still are) open for meetings and conferences. The auditorium area could quickly be converted into a chamber for the House of Representatives, while the exposition space was planned as work space for Congressional staffers.

The entrances are blast doors, resembling those on bank vaults. The blast doors where one enters from the Hotel are cleverly disguised. They recess into the wall, and are covered with flowery Dorothy Draper wallpaper.

In addition, there were dormitories, a medical clinic, a cafeteria, and a communications briefing room. Upon arrival, one was supposed to remove one’s clothes, presumed to be contaminated by radiation. Everyone was to shower, and then army fatigues were to be issued. Your clothes would be incinerated.  This whole facet is pretty creepy.

Of course, The Bunker needed a power plant, water, and food. Food was delivered weekly– enough for hundreds of people.  As expiration dates neared, food stores were recycled to feed hotel employees.

The Bunker stayed secret from its completion in 1962 to 1992, at which time a Washington Post reporter leaked the story.  By that time, The Bunker was obsolete. Recall that the first nuclear bombs were delivered by aircraft. Under that scenario, a warning system would allow time to evacuate Congress from Washington to West Virginia. In the 1990’s missiles supplanted aircraft as the primary nuclear weapon delivery method. With their greater speed, there is no time to shelter at remote locations. There must now be a bunker in or near Washington for Congress.

The Greenbrier itself is much different than newly built hotels. Today, even 5-star hotels have modest public areas, which save on energy and maintenance.  The Greenbrier has massive public spaces, including lobbies, reading rooms, bars and hallways.  The buildings are sprawling, on 12,000 acres, and require constant maintenance.  In 2009, during the heart of the recession, CSX, the owner, put the Greenbrier into bankruptcy.  Six hundred fifty employees were laid off.  In 2010, Jim Justice, a coal billionaire, and the richest man in West Virginia, bought the hotel.  He re-hired employees and set about maintaining and improving the hotel. In our opinion, he’s succeeded. This is an area where, besides the Greenbrier, not much is going on. Jobs that the hotel provides are good ones, with benefits. Each restaurant or hotel bill comes with a 7 or so percent surcharge for “historic restoration”, the cost of keeping up the place.  They’ve added a casino, a sports performance center, and other activities that people like today.

In addition to being a coal magnate, and owning The Greenbrier, Justice is now the governor of West Virginia.

Development is something that helps these old hotels on large tracts of real estate to survive. The Greenbrier has developed vacation houses on the surrounding mountains and along the fairways.  With so much acreage, selling off an acre or two for a couple of hundred thousand dollars is a no brainer.  In addition to the money it brings in, homeowners then play golf, have meals, and bring others to the area.

I doubt that I would agree with the politics of Jim Justice, but I salute him for taking on the burden of running the Greenbrier. He’s helping the local economy and the state in general by operating this grand old hotel.

_______________________________

Since 2002, TABASFUNDING has been providing funds in the form of loans from $100,000-$750,000 to entrepreneurs who want to expand or acquire businesses.  We will look at other business situations which require capital, effort, management, and patience.  If you run across a situation, please call for further information.

_________________________________

LEE TABAS is available as a consultant or an expert witness. Areas of expertise include: banking & business litigation matters: loans, deposits, administration, collection, leadership, liability, and conflicts of interest. Experience as a Trustee for Trust and Foundations.  Please call for further information.

_________________________________

For uniquely designed bicycle clothing and gear, contact Melissa Tabas, Proprietor, LASER CATS AND SUCH, Lasercatsandsuch.bigcartel.com, 610-308-4433.

Helping

Posted by leetabas

Winter 2018
In December, I attended a groundbreaking for the first LGBTQ friendly affordable housing in Pennsylvania. The new residences will be built near 8th and Girard. Girard Medical Center seemed to be most of what is going on in that area. I saw row houses, old factories, remnants of the Reading rail line and cracked, weed-overgrown concrete.

The program might be long, so I wanted to take a bathroom break before it started. There was no bathroom at the site, so I was directed to the medical center across the street. Girard Medical Center is needy; clean, but worn, and has been operating in bankruptcy. The guard had to let me into the rusted door of the bathroom. This is not a Main Line hospital/medical center. Girard Medical Center is bare bones and specializes in drug and alcohol rehab. People were waiting around before or after treatment.
Sister Mary Scullion, cofounder of Project Home greeted people as we walked into the tent erected for the groundbreaking. Nancy and I are fortunate to have been able to support Project Home for a number of years.

People present were supporters, politicians, officials, and gay rights activists. In addition to the usual puffery, I learned some things from the speakers.
• Of the ten largest cities in the United States, Philadelphia is the poorest.
• Of the ten largest cities, Philadelphia has the lowest rate of homelessness. In large part that is due to Project Home’s advocacy.
• About a third of young homeless people are LGBTQ.
• Jessie Keel, a young resident of another Project Home residence spoke about how she was getting her life together after a period of couch surfing with friends and relatives. I was surprised how well she spoke in front of the hundred or so people present. In addition to working, she is taking classes at Philadelphia Community College.
• John Middleton spoke. The Middletons sold their pipe, cigar, and Tobacco Company to Altria, the successor to Phillip Morris and are wonderful philanthropists. They have been active not only in giving money, but working to bring the new residences toward completion. Middleton was concerned about loss of affordable housing tax credits, which I understand were preserved in the new tax bill.
• Darrell Clarke, President of City Council, spoke. Up until then, I didn’t think much of him- I recall that he declined to hold public hearings to discuss a sale of Philadelphia Gas Works which I thought was a dumb thing. Hearing him in person, however, I felt differently. He seemed bright and well spoken. He lived not far away from 8th and Girard and appears to be a strong advocate for his constituents.
• I’d never heard Mayor Kenney speak before either. Maybe he faked the tear he shed at the groundbreaking, but I don’t think so. He said he believes that cities will save the nation because of their diversity.

Here are some of my thoughts: It’s important to get out of your comfort zone, to see how the other half lives. I saw it that cold day in December.
Skilled and trained workers are a must in order for the economy to continue growing. With unemployment at historic lows, what will be the source of those workers? They probably won’t be immigrants. Maybe some of them can come from North Philadelphia?

Recently, I read “The Innovators”, by Walter Isaacson. The book tells the story of developers of computers and the internet. A common theme for many of the innovators was that their parents were teachers or engineers. They had a love and the opportunity to study science and math at an early age. Many children living near 8th and Girard probably don’t have the parental advantage that the innovators had.

We support the Hope Partnership for Education, which operates a middle school at 12th and Lehigh, also in North Philadelphia. Nancy is on the Board, and teaches there as
well. Hope seeks to bring willing children up
to math and reading at grade school levels so that they can get into a good high school.

2017 has been a great year for those of us fortunate to have had parental advantages, attended good schools, have good healthcare, experienced a good family situation and have financial assets. I believe that we’re obligated to help those less fortunate.

Politicians often use the expression “hardworking families”. Not all families are hardworking, rich or poor. Some can’t work because of illness, lack of education and training, drug addiction. Some don’t work because they don’t have to. Some are deadbeats who want to freeload off others. Just because there are a few bad apples, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do what we can to help people climb out of poverty and homelessness.

If I get a tax cut from the new tax law, I won’t be eating extra dinners or buying new clothes. If a poor family climbs out of poverty by having a better paying job, decent housing, affordable quality healthcare, they will spend and buy new things. It won’t be easy, but maybe they can be an asset to our society. That helps business.
_______________________________
Since 2002, TABASFUNDING has been providing funds in the form of loans from $100,000-$750,000 to entrepreneurs who want to expand or acquire businesses. We will look at other business situations which require capital, effort, management, and patience. If you run across a situation, please call for further information.
_________________________________
LEE TABAS is available as a consultant or an expert witness. Areas of expertise include: banking & business litigation matters: loans, deposits, administration, collection, leadership, liability, and conflicts of interest. Experience as a Trustee for Trust and Foundations. Please call for further information.
_________________________________
For all your beverage needs, contact Ted Tabas, proprietor ROSEMONT BEVERAGE CENTER 850 Conestoga Road, Rosemont, PA 19010, 610-525-BEER, www.RosemontBeverage.com.
_________________________________
For uniquely designed bicycle clothing and gear, contact Melissa Tabas, Proprietor, LASER CATS AND SUCH, Lasercatsandsuch.bigcartel.com, 610-308-4433.

Theft

Posted by leetabas

Fall 2017

When I was a teen, my father and uncle owned Downingtown Inn and Country Club, a resort hotel in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. My father was the COO, while my uncle was the CFO in the back office.

The hotel featured all kinds of sports activities including a golf driving range. The driving range was leased out to the golf pro. I think my father and uncle saw this as a way to reduce supervision. Rather than a fixed rent, the rent was based on the number of buckets of golf balls sold. This arrangement made good sense. If the sales were weak, the rent was low. If the sales were good, then the rent increased.

My father and uncle grew up during the Depression, and both worked from an early age; my brother and sisters and I were expected to work. The hotel was summer camp and weekend job for us all rolled into one.

My father suspected that the golf pro was cheating- not giving an honest count when reporting the buckets of golf balls sold at the driving range. Your assignment, Dad said to me and brother Robert, is to watch the golf driving range for a full day of operation, count the number of buckets sold, and see if that corresponds with the number reported when the golf pro pays the rent.

Our methodology was to station ourselves inside a vacant building across the highway from the golf driving range. We peered with binoculars out the window of the darkened building and ticked off each bucket of balls sold on a pad. The outcome was that the golf pro was not cheating, so in a sense, it was a waste of time. In another sense though, we verified that the guy was honest.

Letting associates know that you are watching is an important deterrent. There is the joke about the bar owner who watched from a dim corner as the bartender served one drink after another, putting half the cash from each sale into his pocket, and the rest into the cash register. After one sale, the bartender put all the cash into his pocket. The owner walked up to the bar and confronted the bartender. “What’s the matter, aren’t we partners anymore?”

Of course, if the transactions had been with a credit card, this would not have been possible, but as we all know, there is plenty of other monkey business that can be done with cashless transactions. Waiters have used credit cards to run themselves tips, in the hope that card owners were not watching.

After the hotel, we were in the restaurant business in Philadelphia. I recall finding an entire rib of beef, probably 30 pounds of meat, in the dumpster in back of the restaurant one day. The meat had been recently taken out of the refrigerator and Cryovac’ed (shrink wrapped in plastic). The thief planned to get it out of the dumpster and take it home later on.

My editors suggested that when writing about theft, I should discuss cyber theft, and the effects of the recent Equifax theft of millions of people’s personal information, or the theft of shareholder value by corporate frauds like Enron, or Tyco. I don’t have any particular experience or expertise in these areas; I try to write about what I know.
As business managers, we try to hire people who are not thieves, and who have attitudes similar to ours. We perform criminal checks, and administer surveys that indicate their attitudes to help make better hiring decisions.

I believe there is no substitute for doing things “the dumb way”- go look. Look in dumpsters, check and count inventory, walk around the place of business to say hello, look at co-workers’ computer screens. I call it “showing the flag” and believe letting people see that you are looking helps to keep them honest.

Perhaps employee theft is one of the reasons driving the “gig” economy. Uber doesn’t have to worry much about drivers and theft of time; they work for themselves and buy their own gas. Recently, Aldi, the German food retailer announced they will be partnering with Instacart to use independent individuals and their cars for food delivery. They won’t have to worry about theft of time, because drivers will work for themselves. They, as with all of the delivery services, still have the concern that everything ordered gets to the customer. Certainly items can be tracked and cameras can be watching. There still needs to be someone observing the screens to see what’s happening on camera, though.

About a year ago, we went to dinner at the Plymouth Meeting Mall. We’d parked our car in front of Macy’s. As we returned to the car, we saw a couple of women running with handfuls of clothes, and getting into a van not far from us. An alarm buzzed in the distance as they drove off. It was a grab and run theft from Macy’s. Macy’s was apparently so lightly staffed that no one was around to come out the front door after the thieves. The local store is one of 68 Macy’s stores across the country that will be shuttered in order to save money. Macy’s says that it is re-investing in e-commerce. Meanwhile, the e-commerce companies are seeking bricks and mortar locations. Retail theft is one of the disadvantages with which they will have to contend.

On a positive note, most people are honest; if that was not the case, our society would not function. We still need a person checking up through binoculars, though.

_______________________________
TABASFUNDING provides entrepreneurs with funding to acquire or expand businesses in the form of flexible loans from $100,000 to $750,000, or more. We supplement bank and other funds, and consider most types of businesses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Please call for further information.
_______________________________
LEE TABAS is available as a consultant or an expert witness. Areas of expertise include: Ability to help through experience in banking and investing: loans, deposits, administration, collection, leadership, liability, conflicts of interest and documentation. Experience as a Trustee for Trust and Foundations. Has track record of helping entrepreneurs with growth. Please call for further information.
________________________________
For all your beverage needs, contact Ted Tabas, proprietor ROSEMONT BEVERAGE CENTER 850 Conestoga Road, Rosemont, PA 19010, 610-525-BEER, www.RosemontBeverage.com.
________________________________
For uniquely designed bicycle clothing and gear, contact Melissa Tabas, Proprietor, LASER CATS AND SUCH, Lasercatsandsuch.bigcartel.com, 610-308-4433.

The Boat Show

Posted by admin

Summer 2017

My brother Robert and I own an antique boat, a 1947 Ventnor that belonged to our father. We had the boat restored over 8 years, and began to use it in 2013.

The Ventnor mostly stays on a trailer in the garage. We take it out a couple of times a season, and joined the Antique and Classic Boat Society (ACBS), a club for classic boat owners.

Other than the Ventnor, I’ve been out of the boating scene for 25 years. We used to have a sailboat, but the family crew bailed out on me, and I sold the sailboat.

The ACBS asked for volunteers to staff a booth at the Atlantic City Boat Show in March, and I volunteered. As I drove to Atlantic City at 9 a.m. that cold windy winter morning, the Convention Center loomed up like Emerald City impressing Dorothy. I’d never visited before. The Convention Center is huge- it looks as big as Philadelphia’s. It was a challenge just finding the ACBS booth inside.

The Center was packed with …Boats! Why was I surprised? Because in 2007 as with the housing and auto industries, the boating industry was dead. The boat business edged back from the brink, and as I was learning, has revitalized itself. While some of the engines are imported, the boats are largely made in the USA. The enormous show hall was overflowing with boats. These were not yachts fit for Donald Trump; they were targeting the upper middle and upper class average person.

In addition to boats, a successful show needs boaters. Families mobbed the show. People must be confident when they consider spending $50,000-$75,000 which was my sense of what the average boat on display cost.

More can be extrapolated from the Boat Show. Most people don’t have the entire purchase price to kick in. Financing must be available today. Fuel must be fairly reasonable; this was a powerboat show. If people want to fish or to joyride, they need to be able to fill the tank.

I noticed a 42’ fishing boat near the ACBS display, with four 350 horsepower outboard engines. The boat seemed nice, but nothing grand. I guess-timated $25,000 an engine, so figured the boat must sell for a couple of hundred thousand dollars. How wrong I was. Here is the photo I took when my shift ended at the ACBS.

I wonder how many buyers took advantage of the “Boat Show Special” $769,000 price tag?

My job in the ACBS booth was to chat up potential members who might have classic boats, or be interested in buying them. Owners get tired of them, as with anything else and put them up for sale. As I learned, compared to a new boat, a classic boat can be downright reasonable.

I met lots of nice people and learned that boats and vacation homes are often handed down from generation to generation.

Most of the Boat Show attendees were Caucasian – there were a few African Americans but almost no Asians, and few other ethnic folks by my observation.

This also tells me that the average middle to upper class East Coast Caucasian family feels pretty confident at present, and is doing well.

Our economy has come back from the brink of 2007. Credit George Bush, the Federal Reserve, and Barak Obama.

Let’s hope that something doesn’t rock the confidence of boat buyers who support this mostly domestic “Made in USA” industry.

TABASFUNDING provides entrepreneurs with funding to acquire or expand businesses in the form of flexible loans from $100,000 to $750,000, or more. We supplement bank and other funds, and consider most types of businesses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Please call for further information.
_______________________________

LEE TABAS is available as a consultant or an expert witness. Areas of expertise include: Ability to help through experience in banking and investing: loans, deposits, administration, collection, leadership, liability, conflicts of interest and documentation. Experience as a Trustee for Trust and Foundations. Has track record of helping entrepreneurs with growth. Please call for further information.
________________________________

For all your beverage needs, contact Ted Tabas, Proprietor, ROSEMONT BEVERAGE CENTER 850 Conestoga Road, Rosemont, PA 19010, 610-525-BEER, www.RosemontBeverage.com.
________________________________

For uniquely designed bicycle clothing and gear, contact Melissa Tabas, Proprietor, LASER CATS AND SUCH, Lasercatsandsuch.bigcartel.com, 610-308-4433.

That Smells Like Money to Me

Posted by admin

Winter 2017

We’ve had two longtime friends pass recently, Carl Cousins, DVM and Clint Campbell.

“Doc” Cousins was the proprietor of Haverford Animal Hospital for many years. I knew him as a kind man and a capable Veterinarian. I did not realize that he was the first African American licensed to practice Veterinary medicine in Pennsylvania. He also owned a second practice in the Fairmount area of Philadelphia.

Doc Cousins sold his Haverford practice in 1994 to Reginald Royster. Dr. Royster said, “My family knew Dr. Cousins, so once I was able to drive, I came over to visit him, and he let me watch and observe. He helped direct my career.” How wonderful to inspire a young person!
I never thought about Veterinary Clinics as a businesses. I know that Doc Cousins and Doctor Royster worked long hours. Veterinarians require human relations skills for employees and clients. They need to market to new clients, maintain regulatory requirements, and oversee financial management. Doc Cousins made it look easy.

The second friend that we lost was Clint Campbell. Clint took over the operation of his families’ takeout restaurant- Spence’s in Ocean City, New Jersey in the 1970’s, which he then successfully ran for many years. He was a 4th generation Ocean City resident. Ocean City, New Jersey, as you may know is a vacation community with 11,000 year-round residents. The town swells to 125,000 in the summer. Clint told me that he remembered when Cowpens Island, part of the causeway into Ocean City, had cows penned in it. The only “dairy” today in Ocean City is the milk in the markets.

Nancy and I knew Clint since before we were married, now 41 years. We stayed over with Clint and family several times in their converted 1886 US Lifesaving Station on 4th street in Ocean City.

My parents used to patronize Spence’s. The format was simple; fresh shore food, to take away- there was no seating for dining- but seats for waiting. The menu was fried fish and mac and cheese, French fries, but also excellent broiled flounder. Vegetables tended to be simple, stewed tomatoes, cole slaw, and corn on the cob. Orders were boxed up, tied with string, and ready, much as Chinese take-out is today (Seems like this concept would still be viable).

No frozen fish for Clint- the fish came from the fleet in Cape May. We were in the restaurant business in Philadelphia at the time, and I would often go into the kitchen with him and talk shop. One time, he was elbow deep filleting 500 pounds of fish. I asked him if the smell bothered him. “That smells like money to me,” he said. He worked alongside his employees, and with the example he set, his employees were dedicated and loyal. The nature of shore businesses are that the proprietors have 4 months to be successful, and maybe some weekends after that, and then the season is over. It is a difficult business environment. Clint had the key, and when he made money, which he did, he bought Ocean City real estate with it.

Ocean City is a dry town; there are no bars or liquor stores. It is ironic, because at home, people have a ton of booze. Clint was a great father, businessman, and member of the community, but unfortunately, had an alcohol problem. After a serious auto accident, he seemed to get on the wagon, and remain there.

He retired, and sold the business. Within two years, the decades old business was out of business. I imagine the new owner didn’t lead by example, work long hours, or care about details, as Clint did.

Eventually, Clint and Karen Peluso Campbell, his wonderful wife of 23 years moved to Beaufort, South Carolina.
In a smart move, Clint eventually sold all of the Ocean City real estate. It is OK to be a landlord if you are around to watch your properties- as with other businesses, it only works if you are hands on. Clint then invested in tax-free bonds. This was at a time when interest rates were quite a bit higher than they are now. That allowed him to live well in a beautiful house overlooking the river.

A 2013 Wall Street Journal poll said that 56% of people thought they were capable of running their own business, but only 9% actually started their own business. I believe most people wouldn’t want to work the hours, or take worries home with them that are necessary to successfully own and run a business. I love a quote that I heard from Hobie Alter, surfing and sailing pioneer: “If it’s fun, it isn’t work; and if it’s not fun, it will never work.” If you think this way about your business or professional activity, you are the person to own your own business.

_______________________________
TABASFUNDING provides entrepreneurs with funding to acquire or expand businesses in the form of flexible loans from $100,000 to $750,000, or more. We supplement bank and other funds, and consider most types of businesses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Please call for further information.
_______________________________
LEE TABAS is available as a consultant or an expert witness. Areas of expertise include: Ability to help through experience in banking and investing: loans, deposits, administration, collection, leadership, liability, conflicts of interest and documentation. Experience as a Trustee for Trust and Foundations. Has track record of helping entrepreneurs with growth. Please call for further information.
________________________________
For all your beverage needs, contact Ted Tabas, proprietor ROSEMONT BEVERAGE CENTER 850 Conestoga Road, Rosemont, PA 19010, 610-525-BEER, www.RosemontBeverage.com.
________________________________
For uniquely designed bicycle clothing and gear, contact Melissa Tabas, Proprietor, LASER CATS AND SUCH, Lasercatsandsuch.bigcartel.com, 610-308-4433.

There are Businesses and Then There are Businesses

Posted by admin

Fall 2016

I read in the Philadelphia Inquirer about three Wharton grads who developed a new app, “Beer Me”.  They intend to change the way that people order at bars. According to Beer Me’s calculations, using the App cuts the average payment time from 90 seconds to 20 seconds. A 20-percent tip is included, and then the alcohol is delivered.

It reminds me of “Back to School”, a Rodney Dangerfield movie about an untamed father that accompanies his bookish son to college.  Rodney and his entourage are in the bar, and he instructs the barmaid to: “Bring us a pitcher of beer every seven minutes until somebody passes out. And then bring one every ten minutes.”

It strikes me as a shame that some bright young people’s talent is not more productively applied.  It is a free country though, and people are able to choose their own careers. The Beer Me guys could have the last laugh, and become internet millionaires.

Nancy and I recently were in Milwaukee, looking for another place in Wisconsin to visit. We noticed that Kohler (think toilets) was nearby.  There was a 5-star hotel there, and the company offered a 3-hour factory tour. I have an engineering degree and love to see how things are made.

Kohler is a company town with a population of approximately 2,500.  The town consists of two hotels, a small shopping center, schools, parks, single family houses, and Kohler factories.

We checked into the American Club and had dinner at Cucina, a Kohler owned restaurant in the Kohler owned shopping center. The American Club Hotel is a showcase for Kohler bath products. The night before our tour, I was looking forward to bathing. Our room was equipped with a huge bathtub, with a filler the size of a diesel truck exhaust pipe. When I tried to shut off the water, the handle broke with the water still on full stream. I immediately opened the drain and called reception.  When I said that I needed a plumber, and that the faucet had broken, the person started to laugh. A few minutes later, the plumber showed up, and quickly shut off the water. He said that he could complete the repairs then, or return the next morning. I said to fix it then, thinking that they had an entire factory of parts nearby. In about 20 minutes, he returned, repaired the valve, and we were good to go.

The next morning, we reported to the Kohler design center at 8 a.m. for our tour.  Our guide was a 42-year Kohler veteran, having worked in the factory for 30 years, then leading tours for 12 years.

We started in the Urinal Department.  Basically they form the urinals from clay, let them dry, bake them, and then coat them with a ceramic glaze and re-bake them.  Nancy has worked with pottery, so the processes were familiar to her.  The engineering challenges were evident; how to handle heavy breakable ceramic items, sometimes very hot, while maintaining quality and cost control.

Next, we went to the Faucets and Fittings Factory. There were many computer controlled lathes, drills, routers and planes.  Shavings of brass and aluminum were everywhere.

Our tour then headed to the foundry, which is a giant Machiavellian- like furnace for melting scrap steel. The fiery hot molten metal is poured into molds to form tubs, or other items.  Our guide said that Herr Kohler came from Germany in the 1870’s and set up a foundry to make cast-iron cattle troughs. At some point, he coated one of the red hot cast iron tubs with powdered glass, which melted to a smooth, shiny, impervious surface, and the ceramic tub was born.

These factory jobs are real work.  I noticed that the employees were United Auto Workers Union members, so I assume that these are good paying jobs.  Our guide told us that part of their compensation is based upon output and quality, computed for every individual.  Sounds complicated but fair, and only possible with computers. There are 30,000 employees, with plants around the world, including China.

My understanding is that the Kohler family are billionaires. Seeing the tremendous infrastructure and Investment, if they can still make a profit, they deserve it.

On further thought, Beer (the champagne of the working man) and toilets are both pretty important, so maybe a little more respect is due to the app developers.

                                                          _______________________________

TABASFUNDING has provided a six-figure line of credit for remodeling rental properties to Hawthorne Investments LLC. Hawthorne is an affiliate of Ranieri and Kearns Associates, a multi-faceted residential and commercial construction company.

TABASFUNDING provides entrepreneurs with funding to acquire or expand businesses in the form of flexible loans from $100,000 to $750,000, or more. We supplement bank and other funds, and consider most types of businesses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.   Please call for further information.

For all your beverage needs, contact Ted Tabas, proprietor ROSEMONT BEVERAGE CENTER 850 Conestoga Road, Rosemont, PA19010, 610-525-BEER, www.RosemontBeverage.com

 

School Daze

Posted by admin

Summer 2016

At TABASFUNDING, we don’t make student loans.  Our funding is strictly for expansion or acquisition of businesses.  In the course of looking at those, however, we do review borrower’s financials.  One recent husband and wife whose financials we reviewed have a total of about $90,000 in student loan debt. The government offers terms that are flexible, so they don’t have to pay more than a certain percentage of their income.  It is manageable, but my concern for them is, will they ever have the satisfaction of paying off their student loans?

More worrisome were the two Physical Therapists that started a PT business and were looking for funding.  They both earned PhDs.  One had a breathtaking $180,000 in student loans, and made around $80,000 in annual salary. The other had $139,000 in student loans, and made around $61,000 in annual salary.  I can see incurring that kind of debt if one can earn a couple of hundred thousand dollars per year afterwards. PurdueUniversity has started a student loan program advancing money based on estimates of future earnings. For example, computer engineering majors may qualify for more aid than turf science majors, because engineers typically earn more.

It is clear why Bernie Sanders has such appeal to young people.  His pitch about free college would have lots of traction with the students and families in the United States that have accumulated $1.2 trillion of student loans.

My take-away is that young people have little financial experience when applying to college or graduate school.  They think that if they are granted loans, that somebody is looking after them and if approved they assume that the thing to do is accept the loan.

Seems to me that financial literacy should start when one is relatively young. My own little survey shows that two of the local school districts have a financial literacy course that starts in middle school. The course is optional.  I am not aware that any of my children (they are older now) took such a course.  Knowing about loans, credit cards, interest, bank accounts, and other financial matters is very important – Why it is not mandatory?  Entrepreneurship is being promoted in high schools. It is pretty hard to run your own business if you don’t grasp basic financial matters. I was fortunate- my father was a businessperson, and at the dinner table, we talked about most of these things.

A related topic is; does it make a difference what college or university that one attends?  Does it make sense to borrow big to get into a better college/university?  From my point of view, with few exceptions, the answer is no. There are a dozen colleges/universities where the name (think Harvard) and education will certainly help to advance one’s career. Most of these colleges/universities will provide substantial grants if someone gets accepted.   For the most part, in my opinion, borrowing and paying more for private college or university, as opposed to attending a public one cannot be justified.

TABASFUNDING has provided funding to Jackie London, an importer, wholesaler and retailer of women’s shapewear. The company seeks to serve primarily Latino and African American customers.  These are growing markets, and we are optimistic about the company’s future.

Ameritech Media Services of Harrisburg is an existing client. Ameritech offers marketing services for growing companies.  If your marketing could use a breath of fresh air, please have a look at the website: http://www.ameritechmedia.com/ or contact Dustin Foreman at 1 800 319 8481.

______________________________

TABASFUNDING provides entrepreneurs with funding to acquire or expand businesses in the form of flexible loans from $100,000 to $750,000, or more. We supplement bank and other funds, and consider most types of businesses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.   Please call for further information.

______________________________

LEE TABAS is available as a consultant or an expert witness. Areas of expertise include:  Ability to help through experience in banking and investing: loans, deposits, administration, collection, leadership, liability, conflicts of interest and documentation. Experience as a Trustee for Trust and Foundations. Has track record of helping entrepreneurs with growth.  Please call for further information.

________________________________

For all your beverage needs, contact Ted Tabas, proprietor ROSEMONT BEVERAGE CENTER 850 Conestoga Road, Rosemont, PA19010, 610-525-BEER, www.RosemontBeverage.com

Free Stuff

Posted by admin

Nancy and I are generally fascinated by offerings for free stuff that come in, usually real estate or timeshare sales.  They promise a free gift in exchange for 90 minutes of your time.  We’ve gotten golf clubs, bargain overnights in Williamsburg and New York City.

Recently an oversize post card came in with a scratch-off number, as well as an electronic device. When we turned on the device, a number glowed in blue, which matched the scratch-off number that we found on the postcard. We’d won a) $25,000, b) a new car, c) an Android tablet computer.  All we had to do was call up and make an appointment.  It turned out to be associated with Split Rock in the Poconos. We’d heard of it, but never visited. It could be a nice outing, so we called and made arrangements.  The drive was easy, 1 ½ hours from home.  We gave our name to the receptionist, and Barry, a 70 ish man introduced himself. He disclosed that the program was for sale of timeshares.  Next, we went on a tour around the community. It is quite nice with a combination of upscale and ordinary houses, and some condominium timeshares. There were restaurants and several beautiful lakes.

After the tour, we went to the closing room, with a dozen or so round tables. The room was busy with other prospects.  Split Rock is associated with Interval International, a large timeshare company. As Barry explained it, we would buy the share at Split Rock, and pay the split rock maintenance fee, which is a lot less than the maintenance fee in New York City, for example, and would get points which could be used at any of the Interval properties. He showed us a book which had some nice Hyatt and other facilities around the world.  Next he showed us the price of a timeshare, which was about $12,000 and could be mostly financed.

Nancy and I thought that our children might like to use a condo at Split Rock. The place was nice and convenient to Philadelphia.  When I asked about documentation, he said that was available only if we agreed to buy, and that the price was good for today only.  Generally my thought about timeshares is that they buy ground by the shovel and sell it by the teaspoonful, and that there was no real reason to get yourself obligated, when you can stay overnight at a hotel, with no long term commitments.  While we could probably get what we wanted at Split Rock, I imagine that it would not be so easy to get reservations at one of the other Interval properties. Looking online later, that was confirmed.

By that time, our 90 minutes were up, and we indicated that we’d like our prize. Barry directed us downstairs. A sign asked us to have a seat, and someone would be with us shortly.  In a few minutes, a 50ish year–old man motioned for us to follow. Apparently this man was the Closer – Barry wasn’t successful, so this guy would try again.  We stated the same objections that we had before. This time, the price came down to about $10,000.

When he wasn’t making headway, he did give us the prize- an Amiko tablet computer. We haven’t gotten it set up yet, but it sounded more impressive in the marketing material.  I guess if you want people to think that what you are doing is top quality, you would give a top quality item. It sort of reinforced our feeling that we made the right decision not to participate.

Puerto Rico Takes a Hit to the Head

Posted by admin

Spring 2016

Nancy and I own Puerto Rico bonds, which have been in the news a lot recently. Some bonds are in default, and other payments are due which Puerto Rico says it will not be able to make. For a reason that no one seems to be able to determine, Puerto Rico is not eligible for bankruptcy restructuring, as other government subdivisions are. The territory has gone to the Supreme Court to ask for relief.  Hedge funds own the bonds, as well as many ordinary investors who want to recover as much as possible. Because Puerto Rico is a US territory, not a state, the bonds featured, triple tax free (US, State, and Municipal) income, making them quite attractive before now.  We have some of the better ones, still rated investment grade and insured.

Nancy and I planned a trip to Puerto Rico to get a feel for the economy and the people while hoping to enjoy ourselves as well. There is reasonable and plentiful air travel, and one does not need a passport.  Puerto Rico dangles outdoor activities, shopping, sightseeing and history as attractions.  The island was discovered by Columbus in 1493 and served as a key port in the Spanish new world.  San Juan, the capital, is a charming pastel colored city which dates from the 1500’s.  We walked all over the quaint streets; there were plenty of police, and we felt quite safe going anywhere.

Almost uniformly, anyone coming in contact with tourists was super nice.  I had hoped to practice my marginal Spanish, but everyone we met spoke excellent English. Puerto Ricans get the message- keep the tourists happy and they will keep coming.  The bad news is that other Caribbean islands also have nice weather, and try hard to attract tourists.

There were quite a few empty buildings throughout Puerto Rico. I picked up the local publication “Caribbean Business” for additional insight.  Puerto Ricans are rightly concerned about legislation coming out of Congress to resolve their debt. What’s proposed is an oversight board dominated by non- Puerto Ricans who would supervise the island’s finances.

The US obtained Puerto Rico after the Spanish American war in 1898.  At that time, it was seen as a strategic island holding in the Caribbean.  Puerto Ricans are free to travel or move to the US at any time.  The weak economy spurs that- supposedly one doctor a day moves to the mainland for a better opportunity.

Taxes are different than elsewhere.  Most individual Puerto Ricans don’t pay US Taxes, but do pay Puerto Rican taxes. There is an 11% sales tax, soon to increase in response to the financial situation.

During the 20th century there were tax incentive programs which brought Pharmaceutical firms, and others, to Puerto Rico.  When we were there, we saw several large container ships full of Asian autos unloading in San Juan harbor.  It seems that Puerto Rico could be a possible location for auto parts manufacturing.  Whether the Mexican work force is better or not, I don’t know.

One thing I do know is that the Puerto Ricans have less political capital than Cuban-Americans.  After arriving as immigrants with little, now South Florida is practically run by Cuban-Americans. They have clout.  To that point, they kept the US from establishing relations with Cuba for over 50 years. Two of the presidential candidates were of Cuban heritage.  There are some famous and successful Puerto Ricans, but they don’t seem able to muster much political power. Lin Manuel Miranda who wrote, directs, and stars in “Hamilton”, the hottest Broadway musical, and J Lo are two.

When we were there, we rented bikes and rode from the OldTown to Condado, a strip of land with nice hotels which is popular with tourists. It was a very windy day.  While waiting for a traffic light to change, a large, poorly secured, “Construction Ahead” sign on the sidewalk blew over and hit me in the head. Thank God I was wearing a bike helmet. Save a cut on my hand, I was unharmed.  Hopefully the territory of Puerto Rico will be shielded from the most harmful fallout from the financial crisis, and allow this beautiful island, with its wonderful people, to regain its footing.

Lee and Sign in Puerto Rico 2 Mar 1 16 Visiting my sign

_______________________________

TABASFUNDING provides entrepreneurs with funding to acquire or expand businesses in the form of flexible loans from $100,000 to $750,000, or more. We supplement bank and other funds, and consider most types of businesses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.   Please call 610-896-2400 or email Lee@Tabasfunding.com for further information.

http://tabasfunding.com/one-minute-application/

________________________________

For all your beverage needs, contact Ted Tabas, proprietor ROSEMONT BEVERAGE CENTER 850 Conestoga Road, Rosemont, PA 19010, 610-525-BEER, ted.rosemontbeverage@gmail.comwww.RosemontBeverage.com