Mark Hall Cabinetry – Columbia
Mark Hall Cabinetry of Columbia, owned by Mark and Stephanie Hall, has created thousands of custom cabinets since the business was founded in 1995. Those cabinets range from small and simple to sprawling and lavish designs. The firm also designs and creates one-of-a-kind entertainment centers, office pieces, bookcases, bars and furniture pieces.
The Halls offer a reasonably priced alternative to big-box retail designs, and business was good through the 90s. The couple had some advantages entering the business: Stephanie graduated from William Woods University with a degree in art, and Mark, who spent some formative years in Los Angeles and was influenced by its space and light, had a strong background in the industry. His father ran the Jack Hall Cabinet Company.
At first, it was just the two of them. Stephanie served as kitchen designer and Mark as cabinetmaker. Over the years, as their business grew and its reputation for quality work spread, more than a dozen employees were added. The Halls added a CPA, too, to keep their taxes straight. They had mastered the intricacies of business.
Or so they thought.
In 2011, the Halls approached Paul Bateson, business counselor and technology commercialization specialist at the MO SBTDC. The Halls occasionally had to pump their own funds into the firm to keep it running, and accounts payable and receivable didn’t always mesh. The Halls also wanted to double their business, not an easy task under any circumstances and even harder with their financial headaches.
Bateson and other SBTDC counselors got to work analyzing three years of financial records. They also recommended a broad range of strategies: reworking existing debt, re-establishing a working capital account, acquiring a bank consolidation or real estate loan, analyzing the company’s marketing to better target and segment ideal customers, implementing a 15 percent price increase and procuring updated equipment, among other items.
“The major problem we found was a lack of business finance experience or training,” Bateson says. “They create great furniture and great designs. But running a business is more than just great products. It takes financial experience, too.”
The Halls began implementing these strategies, with gratifying results. Much to their relief, raising prices resulted in only a small reduction in bids won. And with their financial data in good shape, meetings with bankers went far more smoothly. The Halls acquired a loan to buy a new molder and extended their line of credit.
By the end of 2012, sales were up to nearly $1.2 million, the Halls had added workers to bring the total number of jobs to 17, accounts payable were down and accounts receivable were up. The Halls also had enough cash on hand to avoid dipping into their personal accounts.
Mark Hall doesn’t stint in praise. He says Bateson saved the firm.
“Without his assistance, we would not be in business now. It’s really that simple. He’s unbelievable.”
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