When Chelsea State Bank promoted the financial institution as the local community bank that helps families and small businesses dream global and borrow local – they never imagined it would one day apply to a global pandemic.
Today, R. M. Wright Company, a small business operating in Farmington Hills, Michigan, with 26 employees, is not only dreaming globally, they are helping to build ventilators during a global pandemic…while securing a loan from their community bank.
M. Wright Company is considered a critical infrastructure business and therefore able to remain open during Michigan’s stay-at-home order and take on their largest project ever since owning the 80-year-old company – supplying ventilator parts for Ford Motor Company.
“Since we are an essential business and we have continued to stay open and work, we were available to assist Ford Motor Company and GE Healthcare with their efforts to build ventilators to aid in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic,” said R. M. Wright Company President and Chief Operating Officer Michael A. Hamzey, Jr. “Ford and GE have committed to the federal government that they will build 50,000 ventilators in 100 days, beginning this week (April 13). We provided two different products for the ventilator they are manufacturing at the Ford plant in Ypsilanti, resulting in a multi-million-dollar order for our company…and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Chelsea State Bank Authorized Payroll Protection Program Lender
The newly enacted federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided a variety of additional emergency relief programs for consumers and businesses, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) guaranteed through the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Chelsea State Bank is an authorized lender by the SBA to administer the PPP. The first PPP authorized up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses, nonprofits, veterans’ organizations and tribal concerns to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Sole proprietors and self-employed individuals are eligible as well. Loan terms are the same for everyone.
“The positive impact of the Payroll Protection Program on our company cannot be overstated,” said Hamzey. “The opportunity to be involved in this order would have been missed if we were unable to remain open or if we had to lay off some of our employees due to payroll concerns. Ford is a valuable customer to us and several of our employees have played important roles in making sure the short delivery window is met so the ventilators will be made on time and lives can be saved. We began personally delivering the product to the Ypsilanti plant last Friday (April 10) and we will maintain these deliveries for the next few months.”
Chelsea State Bank was one of the financial institutions actively working to operationalize the programs as quickly as possible to assist customers in maximizing their relief under the Act’s provisions. Chelsea State Bank began accepting applications for small businesses on April 3, and sole proprietors and self-employed on April 10.
“In a very short period of time, our commercial lenders and support teams were able to complete – in an astounding display of teamwork, dedication and long hours – over 175 Paycheck Protection Program loans with a total value of over $30 million dollars,” said Chelsea State Bank President Joanne Rau. “We accepted applications until the SBA closed down the application site. These are funds brought into our communities to keep businesses running during these difficult times. We were grateful to help our small businesses.”
Payroll Protection Program Leads to Facilitating Ventilators in Michigan
Ford Motor Company took on the challenge to quickly pull resources from all over the global company to make ventilators in Michigan. Since these machines are very complex, Ford chose to make the model AE device, which is an older model that will work for COVID-19 patients. Ford chose this model because it is simple, portable and scalable – allowing them to get the units into hospitals quickly.
When Ford started looking for manufacturers to produce the ventilators, R. M. Wright Company came up as an exclusive distributor for Michigan for one of the products used in the design. With a relationship already in place with Ford and other manufacturers, and a neighbor to the Ford Ypsilanti plant, R. M. Wright Company became involved.
“This simple ventilator still has approximately 354 parts,” said Hamzey. “We are helping to make an older model because it’s a third of the cost of the current model, and it can be made in a shorter amount of time.”
With a workforce of 26 employees, the R. M. Wright Company was able to ramp up quickly because of the investment they have made in their software, explained Hamzey. “We have the ability to handle the variety of volumes that we experience throughout a year. We are lean by design and the software we use is extremely distributor oriented.”
RM Wright Company is a family owned business. Chief Executive Officer Michael K. Hamzey, Sr., bought the company from the original family in 1987. At almost 80 years old, Hamzey, Sr. is still active in the business. In 2000, Michael A. Hamzey, Jr., left his law practice of 15 years to join his father in the company, starting with inside sales and moving into his current position as President. Hamzey Jr., graduated from the Detroit College of Law, now Michigan State University College of Law, a private law school in East Lansing, Michigan affiliated with Michigan State University. In addition to father and son, there are three other family members currently working at the company.
Michigan Small Business Benefits Using With Local Bank
Having worked with many large banks over the years, the R. M. Wright Company decided it was time to look for a bank with a more personal approach to banking. “We’d been with larger banks – which is where my father met Mary Lee Penney before she joined Chelsea State Bank,” said Hamzey, Jr. “My father and I started to feel like it was time to change banks because we just weren’t getting a warm and fuzzy feeling from our previous banker. We’ve been with Chelsea State Bank for almost 10 years now. Steve Saules is now our commercial lender and we feel comfortable with him because he understands us and our business. We also feel very much appreciated by Chelsea State Bank.”
M. Wright Company prides itself on keeping morale up during these uncertain times. Regular communication with staff about the company’s financial position is key, along with providing lunches and regular emails showing their support and appreciation for their employees.
“Our staff knows this is a significant project for us, and it came at a critical time – along with the PPP,” concluded Hamzey, Jr. “We are grateful to Chelsea State Bank and Ford Motor Company for this opportunity. These are uncertain times and there is no benchmark or roadmap. We are taking it day by day. We want to do the best for our employees and help get them through this rough time.”
In addition to promoting the bank as the local community bank that helps families and small businesses dream global and borrow local, Chelsea State Bank also wants consumers to know they are locally grown since 1897.
“As a local community bank for over 120 years, the health and safety of our families and businesses have always been top priorities for us,” said Chelsea State Bank CEO John Mann. “When the PPP was announced, we were buried with applications and chose to focus on our smallest customers first because that’s where we felt the need was greatest and we didn’t want them overlooked. We want all of our customers to know we are here to help them. Because we are smaller and more nimble, we can act quickly, proactively, and decisively. We are hoping a second wave of funding is approved soon.”