It is Celebration time at the Steck household! For on January 4th 2018 God did something amazing in our business, Southwest Metal Systems. We have marked that day Independence Day and decided each year we will commemorate by throwing a shindig to remember!
I had dinner with a friend the day before the Celebration, and told her this story I’m about to share. At one point she said, “Why have I not heard this before?” I told her it wasn’t a story I told often, because number one, it’s so long and involved, number two it takes a lot of energy to share, and number three until January 4th of 2018 it really wasn’t worth telling! It was just a bunch of hard stuff we had to walk through. And who really wants to hear that?!
By God’s grace I finally had the time and energy to sit down and write it all out. I’d love for you to come and see all God’s done in our lives and in the lives of the people who work at Southwest Metal.
It’s a story of God’s amazing love and faithfulness and a real life example of how He parted the Red Sea for us and allowed us to walk on dry ground to the other side. I’m still amazed and humbled at His strength and power that He displayed on our behalf.
This will span over the course of a few blog posts, so I hope you’ll stay tuned.
Here we go-
One year ago anxiety hung heavy in the air of our home. We tried to pin it up. Tried to pop it. We prayed and trusted and knew God had a plan, but just didn’t know what that plan looked like. We weren’t scared, just holding our breath. Waiting. Wondering what would happen.
Back in 2013, our business lost a significant amount of money. As an obvious result, our cash flow slowed to a trickle and at times flat dried up. We fell further and further behind in paying many of our bills.
The biggest of them being our coil supplier. Finally after many hard conversation, our supplier gracefully allowed us to in a sense wad up our past due balance, set it aside and commit to pay it out over the next few years.
This allowed us to continue buying coil, the bread and butter of our business, so we could keep our doors open. (This is miracle #1, because they didn’t have to do this! They had every right to call our account due immediately. So we thank God for that!)
Over the subsequent years, we paid the balance down as much as we could. Adam stayed in very honest, open communication with the owners. He answered when they called and never painted a prettier picture than what was reality. If he said the check was in the mail, it really was, and in the amount he said he would send.
The fact was, we needed them to continue supplying us with steel so we could continue in business. If we shut down, there was no hope for paying them!
Well about 2 years ago, this company was bought out by another steel company. And in that sale, our outstanding debt was assumed.
This had Adam on edge for months. The biggest concern was would they call the balance due now? And would they understand how we need good pricing to stay competitive so we can fully pay them back?
Adam talked with his banker and other friends with financial knowledge, playing the “what if” game and strategizing possible scenarios.
Let me state plainly: Our goal from the beginning was to pay the debt off completely. We had no desire for anything less.
The new owners finally called Adam and made an appointment to come see our business in person and talk about how to pay our balance down. It sounded promising and peaceful.
Adam walked away from that meeting somewhat encouraged. It seemed like they were interested in helping us pay down the balance AND stay in business. Good news for us!
Different options were thrown on the table to accomplish both purposes and a later date set to reconvene and decide the next steps. Several months later, we struck a deal that made both parties happy.
Life went on as usual for about a year. Usual meaning there’s still this weight hanging over heads financially. Every free minute of the day, whether at work or on walks, out on a date, or before falling asleep at night, we tried to figure out the best way to pay this balance off and finally be free of the debt so we could have money for other things, like growth and investing in our Team.
In late spring of 2017 things began to shift. It started out subtle like a gentle breeze but grew overtime to tornado speed winds.
Our supplier kept changing the rules of the agreement. The agreement we were in full compliance of. All of a sudden we weren’t paying off our balance fast enough even though we paid every dime that was due. They continued to ask us to pay more. And more.
One of the agreements between us and said coil supplier was a consignment program. All the consignment program means is we were billed for shipments once we tipped each coil and started manufacturing it, rather than paying for the whole shipment upon delivery.
One day we received invoices for the entire consignment program, which was several months worth of inventory, due NOW! Thinking this must be an accident we called the company and asked. We were told there was no mistake. They meant the invoices. They had decided to cancel the consignment program, without informing us and called all balances due immediately.
Let’s just say that didn’t sit right.