Our Clients

Discount Oil, LLC

Warming Homes and Hearts

If you had asked Katie Warne five years ago if she’d be running a home heating service, she would’ve laughed. Her husband Chuck had suggested they buy an oil delivery truck and enter into the business in which he worked part-time. Intent on dissuading him, Katie ran the numbers to show how risky a proposition it was, but Chuck wouldn’t budge.

“He believed we could do it,” she said. “So we crossed our fingers and jumped in with both feet.”

With help from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the pair developed a business plan for their company, Discount Oil, LLC and went shopping for a loan.

“We didn’t have any trouble qualifying for a loan to buy the truck,” Katie said. “But the oil allocation was another story.” At the SBDC’s suggestion, the Warnes approached First State Community Loan Fund, who agreed to a loan to cover the delivery truck and some working capital to purchase oil.

Four years later, the woman-owned business employs three full-time employees and serves thousands of customers with hundreds of deliveries each week during the season. In the off months, Chuck works as a pipefitter with the Local 74 Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, while Katie manages Discount Oil’s operations and marketing.

The Newark-based couple shares their success with their community, supporting non-profit organizations and annually awarding free oil to local families in need. “We’re so fortunate to be as successful as we’ve been,” Katie said. “Giving back to the community that raised us is just the right thing to do.”

Garnet Valley Farm, LLC

Growing a Family Business

To say that Pat and Diana McCusker are family-oriented would be an understatement. Their family home just over the state line in Garnet Valley, PA, borders homes belonging to Pat’s parents and uncle – an arrangement that makes good business sense, as well.

Garnet Valley Farms, LLC, which specializes in landscape solutions for both residential and commercial clients, also incorporates hardscape recommendations – courtesy of Pat’s uncle next door, who runs a stone business.

“The compound works for us,” Diana laughs. The ample acreage also provides plenty of room for the equipment and supplies needed to support four crews.

Pat, who ran a successful landscaping business after graduating college, returned to the industry after a short stint in the financial services business. He credits that experience for his ability to read between the lines – something that came in handy when researching business loans.

“I knew First State Community Loan Fund was in it for the right reasons,” Pat says. Through a referral from the Small Business Development Center, the McCuskers secured a Community Advantage loan, which they’ve used to consolidate business debt, purchase equipment and hire an additional crew, expanding the company to four full-time and 12-16 seasonal positions.

For Pat and Diana, also the parents of two young sons, growing this business is truly a family affair.

JNW Trucking

In it for the Long Haul

“I know I drove them crazy,” laughs Michael Jones, Sr., when he talks about the team at First State Community Loan Fund (CLF). The owner of JNW Trucking, LLC isn’t shy about admitting that when it came to securing business financing, he wasn’t prepared for the process.

The Magnolia, Delaware resident spent years working for others before he decided to go into business himself. Driving trucks for commercial and private haulers, Michael learned what to do — and not to do — both as a driver and business owner. When the time came, he thought the money he saved would be enough to put down for a truck of his own.

Little did he know that his poor credit score would hold him back, and Michael realized that securing the financing he needed would be a stretch. That’s where SCORE and First State CLF came in.

Working with his SCORE advisor, Michael developed a business plan for JNW Trucking and began the sometimes-frustrating process of repairing his damaged credit. “It was educational,” he admits, “and ultimately, it was worth it.”

Once Michael had done the heavy lifting rebuilding his credit, First State CLF came to the table with a Micro Loan to help purchase the truck and provide some working capital.

Today, JNW Trucking hauls sand, gravel and stone in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania for commercial and private clients. With the support of his wife and daughters and the ongoing technical assistance he receives from First State CLF, Michael is on the road to success.

PolarStar Engineering and Machine, LLC

Shooting for the Stars

When Steve Hague left DaimlerChrysler in 2007, he wasn’t worried about his next move. As a certified manufacturing technologist, Steve had put his mechanical and engineering skills to work plenty in his free time over the past ten years, building and restoring historic race cars, among other things, out of his garage machine shop.

“I worked on everything I could get my hands on,” he laughs.

Through PolarStar Engineering and Machine, LLC, Steve continued to serve the auto racing industry by both designing and engineering systems and components – “from art to part,” as he says.

When he met now-business partner Ben Noji, the pair saw an opportunity to introduce PolarStar to a new industry: the growing airsoft business. With Ben’s industry knowledge and Steve’s technical expertise, PolarStar Precision Airsoft Components just needed an infusion of capital to shoot the company to a new level.

“This business is capital-intensive,” Steve explains. “Manufacturing equipment is big, heavy and very expensive.” At his Small Business Development Center counselor’s suggestion, Steve approached First State Community Loan Fund for a Community Advantage loan to expand the facility; purchase equipment; and ramp up working capital.

Today, PolarStar employs a team of 10 and has continued to evolve, distributing its flagship Fusion Engine™ components to airsoft dealers nationwide. Two new products are in the pipeline for release, and Steve is confident that PolarStar will continue to grow, upholding its proud tradition of “Made in the USA” – right here in Newark, Delaware.