October 17, 2017
By Bob Coleman
Editor, SBA Hot Topic Tuesday
SBA Hot Topic Tuesday — Coleman SBA 7(a) Lenders of the Year
Coleman SBA 7(a) Lenders of the Year
About the 2017 Coleman small business lending professional awards
The Coleman Report is awarding 2017 small business lending professional awards in six categories.
- Main Street Lenders of the Year
- SBA 7(a) Lenders of the Year
- SBA 504 Lenders of the Year
- Rural Small Business Lenders of the Year
- Mission-Based Small Business Lenders of the Year
- Emerging Leader Small Business Lenders of the Year (Under 40)
Winners are chosen from community nominations.
Winners will be honored at an event, date and location to be announced shortly.
Award winners are only eligible for one award per year.
We will be announcing the final category winner tomorrow:
Coleman 2017 Rural Small Business Lenders of the Year — Wed, October 18
Congratulations to this year’s Coleman SBA 7(a) Lenders of the Year!
Stephenie Frazier Whitfield, Senior Vice President, SBA Market Manager, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Georgia
WHAT I DO: I lead a team of SBA BDO’s throughout the South who help business owners improve cash flow and increase profitability by providing long term financing with low down payments.
WHY IT MATTERS: As a business owner your focus is on increasing your customer base and your bottom line profitability. We provide the capital to grow your business.
HOW I DO IT: I’m here to help you grow your business by improving cash flow with loan terms up to 25 years. You can even finance closing costs and put as little as 10% down.
WHAT OTHERS SAY: “I can’t thank you enough for how important a role you have played in my success. You have been with me since the beginning, and I hope our working relationship continues for life. You have truly been a blessing, a voice of reason, and a great financial confidant.” – Kamran Kurani, Owner of Legacy Pizza, LLC (5 franchised Pizza Hut locations)
“I have had the pleasure of partnering with Stephenie for several years and have truly come to appreciate the depth of her knowledge of SBA loans.” – Jan Norton, President, Prospect Solutions, LLC
WHO I AM: For the past 20 years, my #1 goal has been to help small business owners thrive through flexible financing options. I have always had a passion for small business. From my first chocolate chip cookie company in elementary school to my school memorabilia business in college and my own business consulting firm after law school, I have enjoyed the thrill ride of entrepreneurship.
Rajiv Bhavsar, Senior Vice President, Wallis State Bank, Texas
With over 20 years of experience in banking and business development, his desire and vision to consistently help small businesses in any shape or form makes him ideally suited for the banking profession.
Mr. Bhavsar has helped create countless jobs across various industries in Houston, TX. Due to Raj’s perseverance in small business lending, Wallis Sate Bank has been the leading SBA lender in the Houston district for the past two years. His loan volume for the past 5 years has averaged around $200 million. Of this, $162 million has consisted of small business lending.
Aside from his contributions to the Small Business community, Mr. Bhavsar sacrifices personal time and is actively involved in many organizations in the Houston area, such as the Indo American Chamber of Commerce, India Culture Center, and International Hindi Association, SCORE, SBDC, and HCC- Business Plan Competition.
Raj demonstrates leadership outside of his regular business duties by being actively involved in many organizations in the Houston area. Raj uses his position at the Indo American Chamber of Commerce (Director since 2014; active member since 1999), IBN Sina Foundation (Advisor to the Board since 2012), and Indian Culture Center (President in 2012 and 2016, active member since 2003) to arrange small business seminars. Raj frequently sets up booths with SCORE and attends many seminars held by them to encourage and guide them on how to obtain financing for their new or prospective business. Furthermore, Raj has volunteered numerous times to be a speaker at many small business seminars when held at Houston Community College. He helps set up, take part in a Q & A, and most importantly helps the attendees understand the different type of financing that is offered by most banks to help with their small business needs. Raj uses his active roles in a plethora of platforms and organizations to be an advocate for small business financing.
He is also highly involved in nurturing the youth of the community to become leaders of tomorrow. Mr. Bhavsar still finds the time to actively fundraise for underprivileged youth in India by providing them with school supplies and clothes, enabling them to obtain an education that previously was not available to them. As great of a business professional Mr. Bhavsar is, everyone that knows him will tell you, he is even a greater person. — Asif Dakri, Vice Chairman and CEO, Wallis State Bank
Michele Light, Senior Vice President & Market Leader, Centric Bank, Pennsylvania
“Michele Light, Senior Vice President and Market Leader in our Philadelphia office, is leading our SBA initiative with tremendous results. Our SBA loans contributed 62% of gross fee income in 2016,” says Patti Husic, President & CEO of Centric Bank. “Michele is the answer to the biggest challenge for small business owners and female business owners—access to capital.”
Under Michele Light’s team leadership, she was responsible for the following 2017 SBA 7(a) lending numbers exceeding expectations and meeting strategic lending goals ahead of target:
- Centric Bank booked 52 SBA loans in the first six months of 2017 through June 30, totaling $23.4 million.
- The Philadelphia office, led by Michele Light, booked 29 of the 52 SBA loans, for a total of $17.6 million.
- Since 2015, Michele and her team have originated $85 million in loans with SBA guarantees.
- Total loans increased by $95.8 million from the second quarter 2016, an increase of 26%.
- As of July 27, 2017, Centric Bank is the #2 SBA 7(a) Lender in Pennsylvania in dollar volume.
- Ranked as the #1 non-preferred SBA 7(a) Lender in Pennsylvania.
- Ranked #6 in total number of SBA loans in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, representing 40 out of 67 counties in the Commonwealth, or more than two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s business landscape.
Ranked as a Top 100 SBA 7(a) Lender in the United States.
Leigha McLendon, Vice President & the Director of Government Guaranteed Lending, BankPlus, Mississippi
Through Leigha’s leadership and expertise in guaranteed lending, BankPlus has been enabled to expand its role as a community bank and partner with more small business than ever before.
Since her employment began in February of 2012, BankPlus has approved and funded over $50 million in government guaranteed loans for small businesses throughout Mississippi. These investments have transformed the lives of our customers and have made tremendous financial impacts in the communities these businesses serve. Leigha is highly committed to her job, our shareholders, and our customers. She conducts business with the highest of standards. I believe her success is reflective of her character and commitment to excellence. — Kenny Wilson, Senior Vice President & Commercial Team Leader, BankPlus
Brad Lebsack, SBA Senior Relationship Manager, Pinnacle Bank, California
Has extensive knowledge, production level and years serving the SBA borrowers and community! He builds and runs successful SBA Departments since the early 2000’s. Pinnacle Bank is currently rated number four for the state of California with only two people. His loans are of supreme quality for under served hospitality and assisted living business communities. — Rebecca Wang, Vice President Pinnacle Bank