Bridge Loan Helps Business Continue to Serve Hearing Impaired

Hearing Solutions of the Gulf Coast, Inc. of Hillsborough County

Bridge Loan Helps Business Continue to Serve Hearing ImpairedHearing Solutions of the Gulf Coast, Inc., owner Henry O’Malley says it’s a shame that others don’t know about the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida. O’Malley came across the Florida SBDC at USF when he was searching for a solution to his cash flow problem, which came on as a result of Hurricane Irma.

When Hurricane Irma made landfall in September 2017, the business, which specializes in servicing the needs of the hearing impaired, came to a halt as customers clamped down on spending. O’Malley heard about the State of Florida’s Emergency Bridge Loan Program and began the process of applying with the assistance of the Florida SBDC at USF. When asked about his experience with the storm and the assistance received, he recalled:

What type of damage occurred?
It was dramatic. The biggest physical interruption was the power outages with Irma. We were more affected in Bonita Springs than Sun City although we did have a lot of problems with power, but also with phones and Internet service, which is essential to our business. It also affects the psyche of our clients, which is primarily an elderly client. They tend to board up, hold on tightly to cash reserves and money and of course you have things like mandatory evacuations. People start preparing and developing that psyche and the closer you get the event, whether it’s an event or not an event, the more they’re impacted. In this case, there was some damage and a lot of real physical damages but it took a while after Irma for people to come back out of their shell and loosen up.

How will the Bridge Loan help?
Primarily things just essentially dried completely up and I will tell you, we haven’t completely recovered. We’re starting to in terms of attitudes and experience. Once we get behind in the cash flow situation, a lot of our business is driven by advertising, so all of that takes planning. You have to wait for the results of that advertising and turn that into cash flow and that’s one thing these funds will really help with. Helping us with those issues that we were fortunate enough to maintain with personal contributions primarily because we had very little income. I think it September we did maybe $2,000 to $4,000 in a month where we should have done $35,000 to 40,000.

How was the Florida SBDC at USF helpful during this process?
Kyle was wonderful. Having been my first experience in for funds, I didn’t know what to expect. Didn’t know how to approach it really, and Kyle really walked me through that whole process. Kyle made it less intimidating and made it very clear on what we would need and what to expect. He was very good with communication and returning calls and also placing calls to me at a time when he knew this was a worry. That well-placed phone call often came as a ray of hope to me. He did a real good job. Everyone associated with the process so far have been very helpful and very kind. Now that we know that you’re here and know a little more about what you do it’s a shame that you don’t have the budget to make that more visible because I know among my peers that those are services they could use that they often turn to other places for. I am looking forward to growing and hopefully we will be partners in that growth as well.