Kevin McKee has been a proud San Francisco business owner since 1986. He followed all the rules, paid all the taxes, reported every dime of income, survived a couple recessions and has always been upfront and honest with his employees and customers.
McKee is the owner of Okell’s Fireplace, a full-service fireplace shop that has been keeping California homes warm for 70 years. Up until covid reared its ugly head, McKee had never laid off a single employee.
“I’m proud of my small business. I’m proud to be an American small business owner who hasn’t ever laid a single person off in 34 years. The coronavirus hit us hard. We NEEDED help, TMC Financing is the only place that gave it to us.”
TMC Financing, a provider of SBA 504 Commercial Real Estate Loans, was allocated funds to disperse under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). However, their funds were limited so they restricted their PPP loans to clients/past borrowers. Luckily this included McKee, who worked with TMC in 2012 to obtain financing to purchase a warehouse for the business.
“The initial email we received from Kevin wasn’t pleasant,” admits Barbara Morrison, President of TMC Financing. “But I don’t blame him at all! He came to us after a very frustrating experience with his bank and at a very stressful time. Tensions were high. Once he realized TMC was different and that we would actually respond to him, he did a 180.”
“I applied through Bank of America, who I’ve banked with for twenty five years, within the first hour of the start of the program,” explains McKee. “To this day, I have not heard one thing from them other than my application was complete. The CARES funding was intended to help small businesses so when I read the news that organizations like Shake Shack, the Lakers, and other larger companies received the first round of funding, I was ready to throw in the towel.”
Thankfully, TMC was able to process, approve, and fund a PPP loan to McKee during the second wave of PPP funding. McKee will use the funds to help cover payroll and occupancy costs.
“I’m not embarrassed to say that the PPP approval email I received from TMC had me sobbing. To be told I can’t work and to sit and watch my business die has been emotionally exhausting and super frustrating. The TMC team is the best and made this happen for me. This loan will help save my business and I am so thankful.”
This experience has been eye opening for McKee and has motivated him to be more of an advocate for small businesses.
“We are hardworking people with very little voice since we’re often too busy working,” says McKee. “But we deserve to be heard.”