After the 2008 recession hit and commercial lending by banks all but dried up, some middle-market businesses learned what Eclipse Capital LLC's clients have known since it opened in 1997.
With its network of more than 4,000 lenders, Eclipse works with national and international banks, finance companies, life companies, and conduits to offer multiple options to middle-market companies for commercial real estate valued at $1 million and up; to help grow working capital lines of credit and equipment financing; and to develop financial restructuring for both profitable and troubled firms.
"We're taking new transactions to the market all the time," says Frank Bromley, Eclipse's founder and CEO.
Among the many real estate projects his 15-year-old company has helped, in markets ranging from downtown Birmingham to Palm Beach, Fla., are owner-occupied office and industrial buildings, resorts, apartment buildings, and mobile home parks. Eclipse has clients in the public and private sectors, including firms in aerospace, automotive, building products, health care, manufacturing, natural resources, transportation, and nonprofit organizations, among others.
"We're nationwide, but the majority of the clients we work with are in Michigan," says Eclipse Vice President Katie Katzman. "We help Michigan businesses stay in business and contribute to the economic vitality of the state."
Bromley has assembled a team of seasoned financial experts with more than 100 years of hands-on experience. These professionals have become adept at forging helpful relationships with middle-market business owners — some of whom limp in the door, thinking their dreams of running a successful operation may be over. Often, however, these new clients walk way whistling a happy tune after Bromley's team sizes up their financial situation and comes up with options to help. "Yes, we're a financing and consulting firm, but we realize that financial consulting isn't just about money," Bromley says. "It's really about people. And we like helping people."
There are several misconceptions that hold some potential clients back from approaching Eclipse for help. Ironically, some think it's only for troubled firms, while others think it's only for healthy businesses that want to grow. Still others think that calling on Eclipse's consulting and financial expertise is too expensive.
"We save most of our clients more money than we cost them," Bromley says. He explains that because of its high volume, his firm is able to capitalize on economies of scale — similar to buying in bulk. "By obtaining bids from many lenders, we're able to get our clients the best rate and term."
Katzman explains: "We can take the confusion and problems out of banking for our clients, making it easier to choose the best products and the right type of debt for their situation. Not all debt is bad, and we make the process of deciding and understanding much easier than if a company were to do it on their own."
Eclipse's other consulting services include turning around distressed operations and improving profitability and cash flow; obtaining new financing; attracting new investors; and buying or selling businesses. Its financing offerings include investment and owner-occupied real estate; lines of credit; asset-based lending; factoring; and purchase order, equipment, and inventory financing.
In addition to its network of commercial lenders, Eclipse is well-versed in government programs that help fund businesses, including those run by the SBA, USDA, MEDC, and FHA. This not only helps tap into government money; it makes it easy for the banks who administer federal and state funding programs because Eclipse can take care of the reporting paperwork that comes with each loan.
Besides being an alternative to banks, Eclipse is also a partner for bankers, helping them to maximize loan recoveries from financially troubled borrowers. The company also steps in to help bankers' clients who need more than the institution is able or is willing to provide. "Banks come to us all the time, saying, 'We don't like this credit anymore, please take care of it for us,'" Bromley says.
Adds Katzman: "At the end of the transaction, everyone's happy and everybody walks away a winner."
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