BUCKHANNON - Upshur County's Atlas Supply Co. owner, KJ Woody, lives vacuum mogul James Dyson's adage, "Business is constantly changing. Business is constantly evolving." Woody, who has degrees in engineering and business, started his entrepreneurship career by owning a collision parts company.
The business grew quickly and was doing well; however, through the work he was doing with collision parts, he saw a need in the chemical supply industry and was ready to evolve his company to meet that need. Woody knew this evolution would take capital to be successful. Having a good relationship with his local bank, he didn't anticipate any issues getting additional funds to evolve his business. He quickly found out that lending environment was changing. His company was viewed more as a start-up instead of an established business looking to evolve.
Woody reached out to Stephen Foster, the executive director of the Upshur County Development Authority, for advice. Foster referred Woody to Robert Hinton with the Small Business Development Center, a resource partner of the SBA. Through counseling Woody received from the SBDC, he was connected with Tim James from First Microloan of West Virginia to discuss SBA's microloan program.
James made the microloan process easy, taking time to walk Woody through everything and ensured that he understood it. However, Woody said the best part was "I didn't even have to leave my office. For a very busy small business there is value in that - I promise."
James noted, "The microloan process requires a lot of information, but Woody was on top of it and had everything I asked for."
Woody used the funds from the microloan as working capital and to increase his inventory.Receiving the loan allowed him to bring on another manufacturer, which is now used as the company's primary supplier. The microloan also enabled the company to buy products in bulk and package the merchandise to the customer's needs and requirements.
Now employing up to seven employees, Woody is evolving Atlas Supply Co. once more to carry a full line of oil and gas products; although, he'll continue the chemical supply operations. When asked if he would recommend the SBA microloan to others in similar situations, he says, "Absolutely! The programs and services being offered by the SBA are what keeps small businesses alive and operating."