Winter Haven-based Grower to Recoup Losses with Bridge Loan

Premier Growers of America of Polk County

Winter Haven-based Grower to Recoup Losses with Bridge LoanPremier Growers of America specializes in growing seedlings to one year old plants. They then sell those plants to wholesalers who will grow them into retail-sized trees. The high winds Hurricane Irma brought with her in September 2017 resulted in serious damages for the company, as trees that small struggled during and after the storm. In addition to losing trees and water, the company also lost the ability to ship to customers as many were left without power for an average of one week.

In need of a solution to bridge the gap while they recuperate from the storm, owner Bob Carden reached out to the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida for assistance in applying for a State of Florida Emergency Bridge Loan. The loan allows businesses to bridge the gap with an interest-free, six-month loan for economic or physical injuries to the business.

The Florida SBDC at USF has a local office based at the City of Lake Wales Administration Building.

When asked about his experience with the storm and the assistance received, Carden recalled:

What type of damage occurred?
We lost some very young plants. They require a lot of water on a regular basis and once the storm blew through we lost electricity. There was no way to operate the pump so we lost those plants. We had others that were blown down that we stood back up. More than anything, what we lost was the ability to ship to our clients who also sustained damage, so it really created a cash flow crisis for us that we didn’t anticipate after the storm.

How will the Bridge Loan help?
It is giving us some working capital that we need to be able to bridge ourselves to the point that we are shipping plants again.

How was the Florida SBDC at USF helpful during this process?
Very helpful. They were always available to answer the questions that we had and kind of step us through the process when we’re in crisis mode out there in the field. This was a place where we could find some answers and be able to follow a logical process all the way through to its completion.