A Heavy-duty Partnership
Buck Eckholm, owner of Quality Custom Metal Fabrication (QCMF) in Neenah, Wisconsin, knows a bit about quality — namely, that it stands the test of time.
QCMF creates custom metal fabrications with cold rolled, galvanized, stainless, and aluminum sheet metal. The company still employs its very first hire, and Buck has partnered with the same banker for more than 25 years — Rick Schabo, now one of Horicon’s commercial lenders.
“We started in ‘92,” Buck said. “And for the first five years, we didn’t need financing. My banker Rick came into the picture when we needed financing for a new, nearly 20,000 square foot building in 2007.”
That project marked a turning point in the business. Quality Custom Metal Fabrication was growing quickly, doubling its employee count soon after moving into the new structure. Buck built a diverse, national client base that comprises clients across the manufacturing, chemical, marine, food and beverage industries, among others.
“From the beginning, I recognized Buck as a good manager and business owner,” Rick said. “Our relationship grew over time as we discussed the challenges and decisions he has to make to expand his business.”
In addition to the building project, Rick has helped QCMF secure equipment financing and working capital lines of credit and provided deposit accounts, online banking, and some treasury management services.
The 2008 financial crisis shook Buck’s business, like many others across the nation. During this time, Rick worked with Buck to arrange additional working capital and restructure loans to ease QCMF through the downturn.
Rick had come to Horicon by the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he was proactive in reaching out to Buck amid unprecedented uncertainty.
“I don’t care how big you are, if you’re a business owner, you were scared,” Buck said. “But Rick reached out to us and let us know he was the source to help get assistance. Our office staff is small and their expertise isn’t in that kind of work, so he really stepped up. The paperwork went smoothly and the money came quickly.”
As the dust cleared around the pandemic, many businesses struggled to tighten their belts and weather the storm, while many others were challenged to scale and meet a rush of demand. QCMF found itself in the latter camp.
“We went from sad to happy in about two hours because client emails started pouring in and our guys knew they still had a job,” Buck said. “Of course, everyone took their turn getting COVID, and we were able to pay everyone when they were out sick, which was good for everyone.”
Through the years, Buck has been pleased with Horicon Bank’s speed. He has come to appreciate having a bank that understands the community QCMF operates in. As the business continues to grow and improve by adopting the latest machinery and techniques, Buck and Rick continue to work together to build momentum for the future.
“There are three people you gotta have who you trust and can count on to return your phone calls — an accountant, a lawyer, and a banker,” Buck said. “Running a business, there are times when you have to pull the pin. Anytime I get something major going, whether it’s future planning or a machine I need right away, I can bring Rick in to help get it done. And he always does.”
Rick and Buck’s relationship began while Rick was with another bank. Since arriving at Horicon in 2015, Rick feels like he’s found a bank that encourages the type of banker he’s always tried to be.
“We operate as a family here, rather than a corporation, which allows us to act as a real partner, rather than just have a transactional relationship,” Rick said. “And everyone, from our loan processors to our treasury management team, goes above and beyond to help our clients and give us the edge that allows us to compete with anyone.”