By Amanda Kuhnert –
TimberHomes Vermont, a design-build timber frame company, had been in business over a decade when the owners decided it was time to build on their success. First, they decided to transition from an LLC to an employee-owned cooperative, giving more decision-making power to their team of dedicated employees. Then they began planning for their next stage of business growth.
Partners Josh Jackson and David Hooke founded TimberHomes in 2005 after working together at the Mountain School in Vershire, teaching high school students to timber frame using only hand tools. The company’s third partner, Timo Bradley, signed on shortly thereafter.
In 2017, after 15 years of constructing custom barns, homes, pavilions and trailhead kiosks, the partners decided it was time to build something for themselves. They needed a facility that would serve as a space to welcome clients and showcase their work, as well as a larger shop to enable them to build year-round. With the second shop, they would also be able to expand their capacity, hiring a number of new employees in the process.
But before they could start building, they needed to secure a loan. Bradley took charge of the financing piece while the other two partners focused on day-to-day operations. When he realized he needed some support navigating the process, Bradley reached out to the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC).
Virtual consulting services
Bradley’s VtSBDC advisor, Charley Ininger, has worked with many clients during his 20 years as a business consultant. But this was his first international consulting gig; Bradley was on sabbatical in France at the time. But modern technology helped bridge the geographic gap.
“All of our one-on-one sessions took place on Google Hangouts and Skype,” Ininger said. “We worked together for nine to 10 months before we ever met in person.”
“Charley set me on course for a solid business plan and a successful loan acquisition, which resulted in us being able to build the facility of our dreams,” Bradley said. “He was realistic, supportive and enthusiastic about what we wanted to accomplish.”
In the end, the two put together a working set of financials that enabled TimberHomes to get approval for the loan they needed.
And the rest is history. In March of this year TimberHomes hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house at its new location in Montpelier. A timber frame, of course.