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Banking People

Delaware SBA is breaking records with affable directors

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By Kathy Canavan

Delaware’s Small Business Administration office broke records in the number of loans guaranteed in 2012, 2013, and 2014, but the weekly total for the last week of May was still surprising.

Even after totals of $57.7million in 2012, $57.8 million in 2013, and $45.7 million in 2014, the May 25 weekly total stood out – $7 million in a week, mostly chicken-house loans.

The records started breaking just after John F. Fleming took over as office director and his longtime friend John L. Banks moved into the deputy district director’s job. The two had worked together for 20 years in Philadelphia. Staffers say they make the office fun.

“I always tell people Delaware is my easy state,” said SBA Regional Administrator Natalia Olson. “It runs well. They’ve done a great job. They’ve been really good friends for a very, very long time.”

Olson said Fleming and Banks have kept up morale despite years of low raises or no raises for federal employees.

John Banks, Natalia Olson and John Fleming.

John Banks, Natalia Olson and John Fleming.

“The positive energy between them helps the morale in the office,” she said. “When you have a good aura, you always attract good people. We have about nine people in that office, and we have our resource partners. It’s a large number of personnel if you think about it, so it’s important that folks know they’re part of a family.”

The 2015 fiscal year, which ends in October, is likely to break even those records. The total at the end of May was already $70.3 million. M&T produced the most loans so far this year, with 39. They’re followed by WSFS, with 19. Newtek Small Business Finance led the way in dollars financed by generating $10.1 million in loans. First Financial Banks was close behind with $9.9 million.

Fleming said the success was partly because of timing and to the improving economy, but it’s also due to staff getting out and visiting the lenders: “We’ve basically knocked on everybody’s door in the banking world, and we’ll be out knocking on doors again,” he said.

“It’s been a great ride. It’s been a nice year. I’m worried about next year because I probably won’t be able to break this year’s record.”

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