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Hard-money lender takes up coaching

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Articles - May 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hard-money lending can be a hazardous occupation in the best of times. In the worst of times — say, 2008-2010 — it can be a nightmare. Everybody got hurt when property values plummeted and default rates soared during the recession, but few industries took as big a hit as did hard-money lending, the risky act of funneling loans into troubled businesses at high interest rates, using property as collateral.


Fairway America president Matt Burk has transitioned his company into "finance coaching." // Photo courtesy Fairway America

Fairway America president Matt Burk heard from plenty of potential customers during the worst of the recession, desperate small-business owners looking for capital while struggling with everything from back taxes to plunging sales to employee theft. Unfortunately, he says, “By the time they’d come see us, it would be too late. If they had done some things differently, they could have avoided the situation they got into.” But they didn’t — often because they lacked expertise or were stretched too thin to pay attention to important details.

After years of finding loans for companies in poor financial shape, Burk felt he had a good understanding of the problems that get small businesses into trouble, and how to avoid them. So rather than trudge on in a market upended by bankruptcy and foreclosure, he has moved his company into the consulting arena. Fairway’s new “finance coach” service offers financial guidance to companies for annual subscription fees with lots of nines and sevens: $997, $1,997 or $11,997 per year. Participating businesses need to provide tax returns, loan documents and financial statements. In return they get a report highlighting strengths and weaknesses and recommended strategies for recovery and/or growth.

Burk says he’s expanding his 13-employee operation to offer an old-school banking service that is more “entrepreneurial and flexible” than what banks can provide, and a lot cheaper than what accountants provide. Oh, and he can help you get a loan if you need one. An early list of clients includes Everett Street Autoworks in Portland, the Oregon City Golf Club, Renaissance Homes in Lake Oswego and Nossa Familia Coffee in Portland.

Ben Jacklet


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