From General Manager to Business Owner: Falls City Fence

Earlier this year, Wes Benninger and his wife Laura saw a life-changing dream come true.

The hard-working Kentucky couple became the new owners of 70-year-old Louisville-based Falls City Fence. A business specializing in commercial and industrial fencing, gate operators, and safety and access control systems, Falls City Fence has served thousands of customers throughout Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.

When Benninger joined the commercial and industrial fence company, where he served as general manager, he had eyes on adding business owner to his career accomplishments. The opportunity came knocking sooner than he had expected, and he was ready.

To help prepare for his future, he turned to Regions Bank.

“I first met Wes in early 2021 when he was matched with us through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) lender match system,” said Matt Matthews, Regions SBA Lending relationship manager. “The business wasn’t for sale at the time, but Wes wanted to learn everything he could about what he would need going into an acquisition once the time came.”

Matthews walked Benninger through the ins and outs of the SBA process and discussed the various options and requirements for obtaining lending through the SBA, including having a business valuation, a business plan, and more.

At the time, Benninger thought it would still be a few years before the business would be available for purchase.

“Choosing a lender turned out to be a bigger deal than we thought,” shared Benninger. “We got lucky to be hooked up with the team at Regions. They were responsive, knowledgeable, and really cared.”

Benninger contacted Matthews a few months after their initial conversations to let him know that the business had come available for sale earlier than expected.

“Wes had everything in place to move quickly because he knew what he wanted and was very proactive,” Matthews said.

Benninger was also already in talks with an attorney about the business acquisition process.

“As Wes was talking with a local attorney about the process, that attorney referred him to Regions Commercial Banking relationship banker and Louisville market executive Mark Mick,” said Matthews. “Mark and I met with Wes to begin the SBA loan application process, but with the foundation laid months earlier, it was a pretty seamless next step.”

Among the tangible assets that Benninger was purchasing were equipment, inventory, and accounts receivable, along with some vehicles. Among the intangibles were the company’s tenured leadership and installation team and their stellar reputation, in addition to the successful and long-standing history of the business in the market.

“I love these types of SBA transactions – the acquisition loans – because this will absolutely change Wes and Laura’s life, from a financial perspective,” shared Matthews. “I like the fact that we were able to help ensure that the transaction was properly documented so that they were getting what they expected when signing that purchase agreement.”

With the financial strength of Regions, Matthews was able to help Benninger acquire the business, but also secure the cash needed to operate starting on day one. The primary loan was an SBA 7(a) loan for an asset purchase that included the real estate where the business operations are based. Regions also provided a companion loan in the form of an SBA express line of credit for a working capital infusion.