Faced with losing small business customers due to regulatory requirements, Tom Depping yielded Main Street Bank's charter in 2011 and launched Ascentium Capital, an independent finance company that caters to the needs of its small business clients.
After five years in business, Ascentium has surpassed Depping's initial goal for the company and achieved 56% year-over-year growth in new business volume last year.
If small businesses have a true friend in the financial industry, it's Tom Depping
In 2011, providing financing to small businesses was so important to Depping
, then chairman of Main Street Bank
decided to opt out of the banking industry.
did something unusual: he
surrendered Main Street's
banking charter and sold the bank's four branches.
Depping believed small businesses in the U.S. needed financing options, so with the backing of Vulcan Capital and LKCM Capital Group, he launched Ascentium Capital, an independent finance company specifically designed to provide small businesses with an effortless financing process.
"We designed everything we do for speed and ease of doing business," Depping
"It's a very difficult process for these small businesses to head down to the bank and try to get financing."
When Depping created Ascentium in 2011, he told the Journal that his ultimate goal was to grow the company's loan portfolio to $500 million.
"We're extremely easy to do business with," Depping
"Our culture is to treat the sales person like a customer," Depping
"Technology is the key," Depping
"We essentially have end-to-end automation from entry to booking.
We have significant customization technology from automated online apps to our vendor and partner portal that allow our vendors to enter transactions, view real-time transaction statuses, as well as providing access to in-depth reporting and portfolio statistics."
can approve transactions instantaneously, which has improved operating efficiency.
"If you think about small businesses, it's a large market and extremely fragmented," Depping
"You can be dealing with a doctor one day and a truck driver the next.
It's all over the place, and you have to be able to deal with all this diversity efficiently."
The Team, The Team, The Team
Another essential component of Ascentium's success is its management team.
Most of the team has been with Depping
time with First Sierra
, a de novo smallticket equipment finance business he
formed in 1994 and led until 2001.
Many stuck with Depping
moved to Main Street and then Ascentium.
"There are only a couple of people that haven't been here the entire time, but they have at some point in their careers done business with Tom
or worked with or for Tom
," Baccaro says.
I think Richard and I have been together, off and on, for 18 years," Depping
says the team's transition from Main Street
demonstrates its ability to stick together no matter what.
"It was extremely difficult, but we were able to pull ourselves up from the ashes and create a truly great company," Depping
Aiming for the Sky
Ascentium's short-term goals include continually improving efficiency and customer experience, while expanding the vendor business long term.
"We're working very hard on our direct business and the actual chemistry between the vendor business and the direct business," Depping
says, "The opportunity is enormous because, for the most part, banks just don't want to do it.
Looking at the industry as a whole, Depping
biggest concerns are the economy and the capital markets.
"As an independent finance company, capital markets matter a lot to us," Depping
"There have been a lot of problems around the globe.
"The capital markets have been very friendly to us for the past few years," Depping
"I think that 2016 is going to be a great year," Depping