CVF’s Brad Triebsch on how to manage a company through the COVID-19 crisis
As originally written by Mark Anderson and published by the Sacramento Business Journal on April 30, 2020:
Businesses should be preparing now to get out of the Covid-19 slowdown and not just waiting for it to happen, said Brad Triebsch, a managing partner with private equity firm CVF Capital Partners in Davis.
Company leaders should explore new markets that they hadn’t otherwise considered before the pandemic, and if they can pivot to something that is now more relevant, do it, he said. Triebsch was speaking on a conference call for business owners, put on by CVF, accounting firm Moss Adams and law firm Dowling Aaron Inc.
Operators should consider asking vendors and landlords for extended terms or forbearance on payments, Triebsch said. It may not work, but sometimes it does, and every bit helps.
“Don’t be bashful with banks,” Triebsch said. Banks are under orders and authorized by their regulators to be accommodating with potential loan modifications or interest-only payments, but you have to ask for them, he said.
Triebsch also suggested that rather than furloughing salespeople, companies should keep them working and getting new contracts for the changed world.
Triebsch acknowledged that the economic outlook is “grim.” He said he doesn’t anticipate getting back to a fully functioning economy until a vaccine is developed for Covid-19. That could take at least a year to 18 months, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said.
In addition to its effect on the economy, the pandemic also revealed structural weakness for many companies, with about 40% not having access to enough cash to survive 60 days, Triebsch said.
Companies that received potentially forgivable loans under the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program may also have problems in the future. Triebsch said that getting the documentation right is going to be a “big deal” in determining whether the loan is forgiven.
“Draft a narrative now on how you were reacting to the downturn,” he said. Keep records, emails and payment records to illustrate why the money was needed and how it was spent, he said, and keep the money running through a separate bank account just to make it clear exactly where that money went. To be forgiven, at least 75% of a PPP loan must go to payroll. The rest can be for leases, utilities and some other specific costs.
Triebsch praised the performance of community banks in working with customers under the PPP. Under the program, banks make the loans, which are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. Triebsch said that community banks worked with their customers individually to fill out forms and were more available than larger banks for phone conversations.
“Community banks were rock stars, because they know their customers,” he said.
Source: Anderson, Mark. “Businesses Should Ask for Help in All Directions, Not Just Wait for It, Private Equity Manager Says.” Sacramento Business Journal, American City Business Journals, 30 Apr. 2020, www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2020/04/30/businesses-should-ask-for-help-in-all-directions.html