June 25, 2017 (Topsham, ME) -– Long-time employee of the Topsham Meineke Car Care Center, Jim Chattley, has purchased the franchise from Melissa and David Eddy. The purchase was made possible by an SBA-backed 7(a) loan through CEI 7(a) Financing of Brunswick, its first such transaction in Maine.
Chattley, an employee of Meineke Car Care Center since its original ownership in 1997, jokes that he “came with the building,” when the Eddys took over the business ten years ago. He first worked as a mechanic and later became a foreman, earning the trust of the owners and customers alike.
When the Eddys began discussing their plans to retire, they approached Chattley about buying the franchise. Eventually he realized the timing was right. The benefits to employees buying out the boss work both ways. For owners looking to retire, employee ownership makes for an ideal succession plan. As with Chattley, as a new owner he already has the skills, understands the operation and has a relationship with the client base.
Chattley originally approached his banker to secure financing, but could not come to an agreement on the terms of a loan. Because of the close relationship he has with the seller, and because of their shared goal of the succession plan, Dave Eddy recommended following a path that he himself had taken 25 years before: getting in touch with CEI to explore his options. CEI is a mission investor and has been a national leader in rural business development for 40 years.
Chattley worked with Brad Swanson, Business Advisor at the Small Business Development Center there. Through dedicated customer business advising, Swanson introduced Chattley to CEI’s subsidiary, C7a, which specializes in SBA-backed loans for small businesses.
“The team at CEI and C7a structured the loan with terms that made sense for me and the future success of this business. They really understood me and my goals for the shop.”
Chattley says one of the great things about buying the established business is that he and the other four long-term employees will stay on, creating a seamless transition. He has plans to hire one more technician so that he has more time to do what he likes the most: work on cars.
C7a makes loans nationally, yet this is its first in Maine. “Maine is our home and we are excited to be supporting small business owners here as they follow their dreams and build their enterprises,” says Rob Wilson, CEO of C7a. “Across the country, from Maine to Montana, the small businesses we work with have common goals and challenges that we understand and help them navigate. When they do well, the benefits radiate beyond their four shop walls and flow into the community.”