A Bad “Terms” Breakup Leads to Hope through BankFirst

Misled, hopeless and frustrated. That’s how married Air Force Veterans, Teresa and Michael Downing, felt after their prayerful decision to purchase an almost 40-year-old, Alabama based, light weight, portable cot company along with its loyal, though dwindling, following. But the problem wasn’t with the business, the product, or even the sales—all today are exceeding expectations; rather, the problem was the terms of their small business loan.

It was not until the 2017 business purchase closing when they learned about some terribly impactful changes to the originally agreed upon terms. These changes increased their loan payment significantly above their comfort level. Feeling backed into a corner and already financially committed, they decided to move forward with the loan. After all, they had a plan. They believed in this product and their ability to grow and market the business.

In 2019, after two years of building the brand into an international player and having exported cots to 14 countries, Teresa decided it was time to refinance her loan. The company was doing well, but a majority of its cash flow was being devoured by this disproportionately high loan payment. Equipped with a perfect payment history, a proposal for how the lender could modify the terms, and updated financial worksheets, Teresa went to her lender for relief. She was met with neither a solution nor sympathy.

“I can see you’re going to make it. But the thing is, I just don’t know if you’re going to make it in time,” she was told. No hope—not even from the financial institution’s own Small Business Administration lender.

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Struggling with cash flow, Teresa sought out numerous SBA lenders and registered for a lender match on the SBA website. Institution after institution, months were wasted by mismanagement and a lack of understanding from within about who exactly the decision makers were. Nothing could be done. After months of searching, all were dead ends.

All until one SBA lender called Teresa about her application. That one was Walter Dyminski, Vice President and SBA Manager for BankFirst. Having been rejected and still in limbo, Teresa was admittedly apprehensive about whether anyone could help. On this phone call, Walter asked Teresa for three specific numbers before determining BankFirst could help. By March of 2020, their loan application was approved and funded.

“After all of the rejections, finally someone was able to see our full picture and find a way to help us. Walter was our godsend. From the moment we refinanced and released our cash flow, my business has been thriving,” Teresa explained.

Why is it that no other lender could find a way to help the Downings? Only those lenders can answer that question, but Walter Dyminski can certainly answer your questions about SBA programs that might be suitable for your business. That’s what Walter does every day for small businesses across Alabama and Mississippi. When other lenders determine there’s absolutely nothing that can be done, Walter’s 21-years of SBA lending experience along with his vast knowledge of the complexities around the many programs allows BankFirst to see your company’s full picture and provide the lending options available to you. You can contact Walter at (662) 816-6891 or wdyminski@bankfirstfs.com.


A Preferred Lender with the SBA, BankFirst is a Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender financial institution that offers a full range of financial solutions including commercial loans, consumer banking, mortgage loans, and business services management. Chartered in 1888 in Macon, Mississippi, the $1.8 billion financial institution is locally owned, controlled and operated with 30 branch locations across Addison, Aliceville, Arley, Bear Creek, Carrollton, Curry, Double Springs, Gordo, Haleyville, Lynn, Northport, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Columbus, Flowood, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Macon, Madison, Newton, Starkville, and West Point, Mississippi, including its corporate headquarters in Columbus and corporate operations in Macon. BankFirst also operates a mortgage loan office in Oxford, Mississippi, and a loan production office in Brookhaven, Mississippi. Learn more at bankfirstfs.com.

Teresa Downing has served as President of GO-KOT® since July of 2017, when she purchased the company from the original Jasper, Alabama, owner of nearly 40 years. The company designs, manufactures, and sells the highest quality camping cots made. The brand has been produced in Alabama since 1978 and distributed through an online store, Amazon, and several wholesale export distributors. The company has exported cots to Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Kingdom. Learn more at go-kot.com.

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