FINSPEED’s Success is shared with the SBTDC
Originally published in the Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers April 2012 E-News. Story and photos by Phil Leslie, University of Missouri.
Small businesses are a lot like families. They need a place to call home. And so it is with FINSPEED of Moberly. The company manufactures and distributes high-performance parts and accessories for sports car owners and enthusiasts. Among the parts it makes are wheels, enclosed clutches, seats and oil coolers.
"We can serve the full range from the vintage Mustang of an amateur enthusiast to the latest Ferrari that runs at Le Mans," says Daniel Finke, founder and president of FINSPEED.
When they started the business in 2009 Daniel and his wife, Stacie Finke, used their home in Columbia as the headquarters for their business. Initially all parts manufacturing was contracted with a Daytona Beach, FL, firm.
However, being a small customer at the mercy of a large manufacturer wasn't satisfactory for FINSPEED. Production lead times usually dragged. Daniel soon realized he needed to bring production in-house if he was to meet his customers' needs. But his garage in Columbia wasn't the place to set up shop.
Last year the Finkes began scouting the mid-Missouri area for a home for FINSPEED. They searched all over Columbia, in Fulton and as far east as Bowling Green, in addition to many other locations in central Missouri. Finding the right spot was difficult.
As the search continued, Stacie's father, Leo Himmelberg, offered an idea. Himmelberg, a former farmer in Glasgow who is now in the banking business, suggested his daughter and son-in-law give Moberly a serious look. The banker had a couple of contacts there: Cory Mehaffy, president of the Moberly Area Economic Development Corp. (MAEDC), and Danny Lobina, director of the Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) at Moberly Area Community College (MACC).
After meeting Mehaffy, the Finkes started looking seriously at Moberly. They found a workable site in an industrial area on the south side of town. The owner of the building, Jim Roberts, offered a good lease deal. Lobina offered sound business counseling from the local SBTDC. The overall combination was irresistible to the Finkes, who formally moved their business to Moberly last July.
"They made us feel welcome," recalls Daniel.
Among the suggestions Lobina made was to ensure the business had an eight-to-nine-month cash reserve instead of the usual six-month cushion demanded by most lenders. After completing their loan package with Commerce Bank, the Finkes found the extra reserve helpful when equipment delays occurred. Parts for one of the machines necessary for wheel cutting arrived several months late from a foreign supplier, a victim of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.
"That was the kind of unforeseen problem Danny Lobina urged us to consider when calculating the cash reserve we would need," remembers Daniel. "He sure was right."
Today FINSPEED is making products in-house, currently focusing on producing wheels. Virtually the entire current inventory is spoken for. Product line expansion will come in the next few months as the manufacturing crew grows.
"We're finally off the ground and serving our customers across the country and around the world," says the company founder. "It's been a little bit of a roller coaster ride."
Current plans call for the plant to be at single-shift maximum production by the end of September. If all goes well, a second shift should be in full operation by January 2013.
The Moberly location is working well for FINSPEED, says Daniel: "If the advice we received from Cory and Danny hadn't been sound, we wouldn't be here. It was good advice we could count on. Now we're making the most of it."
In addition to MAEDC leader Cory Mehaffy and MACC SBTDC director Danny Lobina, many other Moberly residents have welcomed FINSPEED and have helped make the rough road of small business growth a bit smoother for the Finkes.
Machinists Greg and Brad Carney (father-son owners of Precision Tool) and Don Nelson and Ed Smock (long-time partners and owners of Pro Auto) have willingly offered their design and tool-making expertise when Daniel has encountered mechanical roadblocks at his shop. Electricians Bob and Chris Long (another father-son team and owners of NEMO Electric) helped with electrical wiring at the FINSPEED plant.
And last year when the Finkes moved their operation to Moberly, the head football coach at Moberly High School, Jason Ambroson, and about a dozen of his players helped the couple make the move.
"The people of Moberly have really been kind and generous to us," says Daniel. "They've really gone out of their way to be truly neighborly and welcome the new folks to town."
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