Micro loans help plumbers prosper
MARION -- Scott Blake had a good job as a licensed plumber at Biltmore Estate, but he wanted what a lot of guys with in-demand skills want: more responsibility, more career freedom and less answering to the boss.
In 2002 he took the plunge and opened Father and Son Enterprises, his own plumbing operation. Local banks, though, didn’t share Blake’s faith in the new business. He couldn’t secure a loan.
So Blake turned to the Rural Center and borrowed $1,500 through the N.C. Microenterprise Loan Program to purchase a band saw. That tiny amount helped kick-start the business.
“We couldn’t be where we are without the help,” Blake said.
After paying off that first loan, the company took out others. Blake and his son, Levi, scoured the Internet for good deals on work trucks, even flying to California to pick up a used truck from the Los Angeles County water department. The pair have since traveled to Ohio, West Virginia and New Hampshire to retrieve trucks and equipment, each piece financed by a microenterprise loan.
The company has grown enough for the Blake men to hire a full-time employee.
“When we first started out, we didn’t even have a truck,” said Lynne Blake, who serves the company in three capacities: wife, mom and business manager. “He worked out of the back of an old Jeep Wagoneer. It’s funny to think back to those days.”