Converters Unlimited | Kinston, NC
Q: What’s your story?
Converter’s Unlimited started up 30 years ago buying scrap converters and stripping them for their precious metals. They gradually moved away from scrap and began re-building converters and selling directly to consumers out of trucks. As the company and market continued to evolve, the owner of Converters Unlimited recognized the need to move away from this type of sales and into the wholesale market. This is where I came in. The owner knew my reputation in the industry and called me for an interview. Honestly, I only agreed in order to spy on the enemy, but they ended up making me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I became the Sales Manager and moved Converters Unlimited out of the peddler market and into the world of wholesale. We began making appointments and selling to auto shops.
About two years ago, I decided to make an offer to purchase the company. I knew with the right staff, we could make some necessary changes to Converters Unlimited. It was a long process but I’ve owned the company for about a year now and we are already seeing growth.
Q: How did you hear about the SBTDC?
After the previous owner agreed to sell me the company, I started looking into procuring a loan. I was discussing with a small group at church about what I wanted to do about buying the business when someone referred me to the SBTDC where I met my business counselor, Debbie Hathaway.
Q: How has the SBTDC been able to help?
Getting a loan seemed simple enough, but without Debbie’s knowledge of the system I never would have received the funding to purchase Converters Unlimited. Between waiting for answers and jumping through hoops, the first loan fell through and we had to start over. It took close to a year before I finally got the funding and there were several times I came close to giving up. It was like being in the Wild West with outlaws shooting at my feet telling me to dance. I was nervous that the owner would change his mind, that the next loan might fall through, that the paper work would just keep piling up but a lot of patience and endurance mixed with Debbie’s encouragement and knowledge of the system finally got us through.
Q: Have you been able to see any growth?
Well, we were able to retain 19 employees, which was really important to me. I have a responsibility to them since they’re the ones that helped make it all possible. I have also been able to bring my son, Kyle, on board, something I never would have done if the company wasn’t where it is now. Our revenue has increased by 2% in this first year, and we are selling to six states with plans to expand soon. Just recently we were one of six companies in the US to be honored as a Distributor Council Member.
Story originally featured in the SBTDC’s 2013-2014 Annual Report.
More Success Stories
Barringer Moving and Storage
When we found the right building, our first call was to our SBTDC counselor, Byron. He was a tremendous help. He educated us on what the bankers needed and asked us all the questions that the bankers would ask. The banks loved it. They didn’t have to ask the questions, because we had the packet ready and we looked like a professional company. Honestly, without that assistance, no banker would have even looked at us to find out our story, and we never would have gotten this building.
Goat Lady Dairy
By 2015, they had made it. The business was profitable enough to put the dairy up for sale. There was interest from many prospective buyers, but eventually, they chose to sell to long-time employees Bobby and Carrie Routh Bradds in May, 2017. Now Steve is technically retired, though he is still invested through owner financing and helps with sales and marketing. Steve says he cannot overemphasize the role that Andy and the SBTDC played in getting to this point. “I think we would have had just to stop and then all those jobs and everything we built would have been lost. It was crucial to our success.”