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Why a Local Banking Partner Might be the Best Fit for Your National Business

running-a-business | Read Time: 3 minutes

By Ross McLaren, Managing Partner, HLI Rail and Rigging and Mars Transformers | Published: November 2021


We first started HLI Rail and Rigging and Mars Transformers in the tri-state area, moving turbines, generators, large portions of bridges, and even buildings by ocean, barge, rail, and large and small trucks. If something heavy needs to be moved, we are the team to do it. Since then, we have scaled our business and now operate across North America. An important part of this growth was finding the right business partners. Just as important as your accountant, machine equipment or computer systems, is the right banking partner.

Like other companies, when we first started our businesses, we thought that to reach our national and international geographical growth goals, we needed to engage with a big-name national banking partner. Over the years, we have banked with two national banks based out of New York and Philadelphia, both of which close global deals daily. To us, this meant our U.S.-based business would be relatively easy for them to navigate. Over time, we realized that being a “smaller” business at such large institutions might not actually be the best fit for our company.

At the same time, we started talking to WSFS Bank, a local bank headquartered in Delaware. We were hesitant to talk to them at first. Would a local bank be able to lend us money for a project outside of their geographical footprint? Do they have experience in helping companies like ours grow? Do they have the tools to service our company? We quickly learned that the answers to all three of these questions was “yes.”

Since the onset of our relationship about a year ago, WSFS and our relationship manager Scott Woll have supported us in doubling our revenue, doubling our size, and have helped us close on multiple deals that are worth a total of $20M. Looking back, it’s easy to say we made the right decision to change banking partners to a local bank. Below are some key points I’d encourage other business owners and decision makers to consider when reviewing their banking relationships.

  1. The bigger the bank, the bigger the hoops

    Sometimes working with larger banks can often feel like you are working with a corporation. There are processes and procedures in place that, at times, can feel like extra steps for the business owner. In our experience, working with bigger banks meant there were often bigger hoops we needed to jump through to accomplish our banking needs. With WSFS, it feels as though we are working with a small family business. We have the same customer service team and contacts that we can go to with any questions, concerns or ideas, and they are then able to take on the majority of phone calls and paperwork to not only answer our questions, but help us reach our goals. This allows us as business owners to spend our time focused on our customers and creating new ideas for scaling our business.

  2. Their physical footprint doesn’t determine your business’s footprint

    In the beginning, we thought a local bank would only be able to complete loans and close deals for us regionally. However, after speaking with WSFS, we learned that this was a common concern amongst business owners, but was in fact not true. While WSFS primarily operates in Delaware, and the Greater Philadelphia region, they have been able to assist us in numerous deals across the U.S. Over roughly six to eight months, WSFS helped us close on five deals across the country.

  3. They treat your business and your success like their own

    When working with larger banks, we were hesitant to share our growth ideas, because we knew how long the process took in order to implement just one idea. Early in our relationship, we mentioned our growth ideas to our team at WSFS, and from there they took quick strides to put our plan in action. Working with a local bank, who has the same capabilities as larger institutions, we have learned that they take pride in our success and celebrate our wins and our growth as if it were their own, because of how engrained they are in our business. It truly feels like we are on the same team, because we are.

Every partnership that your business enters is important, and should support your business’s growth goals. If you feel like your business isn’t a priority to a partner or you aren’t being supported in the right way, it’s never too late to consider other options. In fact, while making a change can be daunting, it might be just what your business needs in order to see exponential growth and success.

About the Author – Ross McLaren
As Partner of HLI Rail and Rigging and Mars Transformers, Ross McLaren brings over 40 years of experience in the transportation and lifting of heavy equipment, particularly in the oil, gas, and power plant sectors. In addition, he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Manchester University and multiple related courses and certifications. With his significant education background and extensive experience moving large Power Transformers, Ross ensures the transportation and delivery of project equipment is coordinated efficiently and strategically with less risk to ensure the highest customer satisfaction and project efficiency.



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