SBA loan success: Tampa Bay Brewing Company grows with help from small business loan

After 20 years of producing award-winning beer and operating a brewpub in Ybor City, the owners of Tampa Bay Brewing Company, one of the area’s first craft breweries, decided it was time to expand their operation and open a second location. 

With her sights on Tampa’s suburban Westchase neighborhood, Vicki Doble, one of the owners of Tampa Bay Brewing, turned to longtime partner USAmeriBank and asked about a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan.  

“Vicki was right on the money by talking to her banker from the very beginning,” says Chris Kneer, Senior VP and Business Banking Manager at USAmeriBank. “Besides knowing what you’re going to use the money for, talking to your relationship manager is the first step when pursuing an SBA loan, so Vicki was way ahead of the game.”

An SBA loan is a standard business loan made by a bank, or other lender, but it carries the backing of the Small Business Administration. This backing allows the lender to make loans that might not meet some conventional criteria. For example, a business that is light on collateral or doesn’t have a lot of equity to invest might qualify for an SBA loan. 

“Even though an SBA loan is one of the best ways for a small business to fund its growth, many small business owners never consider SBA lending,” says Kneer. “There is this misperception that SBA is a lengthy and complicated process, but the program has come a long way over the last 10 years. Today, the SBA loan process isn’t that much different than the process for a conventional loan.”

Whether it’s used for buying property, purchasing equipment, or hiring new employees, an SBA loan is designed to help small businesses grow, so it can be used for many business-related purposes. 

Also, many borrowers may not know that they can have more than one SBA loan at a time, as long as they meet the criteria and qualify for each loan individually. 

In Tampa Bay Brewing’s case, the Doble family obtained an SBA 504 loan to purchase the property and build a new brewing operation and restaurant space. An SBA 7(a) loan was used for several other purposes including equipment and working capital.  

When construction costs went over budget midway through the project, as often happens, Tampa Bay Brewing was able to get the additional funds it needed to complete the project.

“We had anticipated the standard 20 percent overage in construction costs, but when costs were a little more than expected, we went back to USAmeriBank for more money, and they made it work for us,” says Doble. 

Tampa Bay Brewing Company recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of its Westchase location. Located at 13937 Monroes Business Park, the 17,400-square-foot facility includes an on-site brewing operation, the company’s “unCorporate” headquarters and 4,300 square feet of restaurant space, plus a 3,500-square-foot outdoor patio.

“The whole process went very smoothly and the entire SBA team at USAmeriBank was extremely helpful,” Doble says. “We had a great first year in Westchase that surpassed our projections and expectations. We can’t wait to see what this next year will bring.”

Laura Fontanills is a senior account executive with B2 Communications. This article is part of a series about local entrepreneurs who have benefited from SBA lending programs. The series is supported by USAmeriBank.
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