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July 7, 2010
An unusual passion isn’t necessarily the best foundation for a thriving business. But if that passion advances sustainability and saves cities and towns across the country a lot of money, you could be onto something.
Jason Tanko had that experience with streetlights. “I’ve always loved streetlights, and I had the idea to capture and reuse these fixtures,” he says. The result? Tanko Streetlighting Services, a San Francisco-based streetlight retrofitter serving more than 200 cities in eight states.
Instead of replacing aging streetlights with newer models, Tanko Streetlighting retrofits existing fixtures to provide energy-efficient lighting. Municipalities save money on both the retrofit, which costs much less than a replacement, and ongoing lower utility bills.
New Resource finds solution to financing challenge
Tanko initially financed the company himself, then secured a Small Business Administration loan. But when it came time to expand, he hit a roadblock: because his SBA loan had liens on his assets, large commercial banks wouldn’t work with him.
New Resource Bank devised a way to pay off Tanko’s existing SBA loan, and provided the capital Tanko Streetlighting needed to expand. “New Resource combined my loans and bought out my debt,” Tanko explains. “Gary Groff finagled a $100,000 line of credit, which has been expanded to a quarter million dollars.”
Fresh capital spurs growth
With increased capital, Tanko was able to purchase the components he needed in bulk, which brought his costs down, and sales are skyrocketing.
For Tanko, the relationship with New Resource is key. “I was unhappy with my previous bank; they were too big and impersonal,” he says. “I wanted someone who knew what I was doing and trusted my business sense.”
At New Resource, he says, “They want me to be in business. They get what I’m doing and they believe in it. New Resource is about personal relationships based on trust. It’s not a massive oligarchy run by accountants. They ask, ‘What should we do?’ and that’s what they do.”