In less than three decades, Gary Garner has grown his Brooklyn Park printing company, GLS Companies, from a
from a small shop of six people to a multi--million dollar print, marketing, and direct mail operation with 320 employees and more than 650 customers nationwide.
That kind of growth doesn't come without some savvy business moves. For Garner, one of those moves came in the decision to own his commercial property rather than rent.
In 1996, Garner took advantage of special tax incentives, offered at that time through the city and state, in the form of tax increment financing. Garner moved from renting three commercial buildings in Brooklyn Center to building an owner-occupied commercial property in Brooklyn Park. He's since expanded the building two times on the 15 acre site.
"Without that program, we would have never been able to build and never been able to do this deal," said Garner. "It really made a difference for us to be able to grow our business.
Small business advocate, lender, and author Chris Hurn believes many entrepreneurs overlook commercial property ownership in their quest to grow their small business.
"Now is probably the best time, certainly generationally, maybe ever, to buy commercial property and just convert your commercial rent payment into a commercial mortgage payment," said Hurn, author of "The Entrepreneur's Secret to Creating Wealth."
Hurn says it makes sense for some small businesses, who have established themselves in the marketplace, to capitalize on low interest rates and take advantage of available loan programs, including a little known federal one that Hurn calls "the best kept secret in commercial financing" and outlines in his book.
"Basically you can purchase commercial property for half to a third the down payment that most commercial banks would require, have longer terms, and actually get below market fixed interest rates," said Hurn. "It happens to be a government guaranteed loan program, borrowers and lenders pay a fee to participate, I liken it to bringing Wall Street to Main Street."
For local entrepreneur Gary Garner, the decision to own rather than rent has been a good one for the business, even through the down economy. But that doesn't mean it's an easy decision or an easy investment to make.
"Fortunately, we were not over leveraged and so we have been able to maintain the equity we need to have through the downturn in the economy," said Garner. "We've always plowed everything back into the business and try to continue to make it grow, and so far it's gotten us to this point."
GLS Companies is on track to do 57 million dollars in sales in 2012.
Alexandra Renslo reporting
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