Susan Rescigno worked in fundraising for 10 years when she had an entrepreneurial idea.
“I was working with large universities that had over 30,000 alumni and a very important direct mail component. However, mail houses in Chicago had clients who sent millions of pieces. What I found is that the facilities we were using didn’t think we were that important. I thought ‘There’s a niche for this’”.
A true startup, Rescigno’s Marketing Connections was launched with personal savings and literally began running out of the Rescigno’s garage. Susan’s husband Ron and her mother chipped in to help. “We handled the fulfillment end – sorting mail and bringing it to the post office,” she remembers. As the company grew, customers started asking about related services like printing, design and layout and Rescigno’s added designers to their staff.
Continuing to evolve, Susan realized that she could get paid for her knowledge of fundraising. Rescigno’s became a thought leader in the industry and helped clients create content and calendars, fund raising programs and establish best practices. When equipment was needed, Susan approached the local bank. “I worked at a bank as teller in the neighborhood so I knew a bunch of bankers. They funded every piece of our equipment as we grew. Back then, the banks were very helpful. They saw a young business and wanted to work with us.”
The economic recession hit Rescigno’s hard in ‘09. Susan was put into a stressful situation regarding the commercial real estate mortgage on their 7000 sq. foot facility. “The bank that held our loan went under. Another bank came in and decided that this was not the type of loan they were interested in carrying and said that we needed to find other funding.” In addition to loan issues, direct mail became less important to businesses as email took over. “The industry itself got hit,” says Susan. “Budgets were cut and our clients stopped marketing. We were holding our own but not growing.”
Meanwhile, the bank holding their mortgage charged them thousands of dollars every six months. “It was a ridiculous amount. My husband Ron and I stopped taking a paycheck so our workers could stay employed. The banks frowned on that saying that we weren’t making any money so we were a risk. It weighs so heavily on your mind and kept us from concentrating on work.”
Susan reports that they were finally lucky enough to have their mortgage refinanced privately. “That was a relief but we still needed funds to grow.”
Shortly after, Susan attended a conference in Chicago and heard a speaker discussing small business funding. Through that speaker, she was connected with SmartBiz Loans and in early 2015 received an SBA working capital loan for $150,000.
Still looking for reinvention, Susan researched recession proof industries and discovered that the only ones not affected by an economic downturn are funerals and weddings. With help from her SBA loan, Rescigno’s launched a new wedding invitation division, The Stationery Shoppe.
Doug Kilroy, a SmartBiz Commercial Real Estate Senior Relationship Manager, explains how Susan came to work with SmartBiz a second time. “Susan initially came to us for a working capital loan. We noticed she owned her current business location and had a good rate, however the term was short and had a balloon payment coming due. SmartBiz was able to help her get a 25-year fully amortizing loan so she could focus on running her successful business and not deal with the risk, time and cost of having to refinance the property again.”
Susan says, “My relationship manager was wonderful and right on top of everything. He answered any questions I had. I’m now able to concentrate on the business. I’ve been able to put in so much more energy so we’re growing again. It’s a big relief. ”
Susan is now focused on attracting new clients. “We’re doing more speaking engagements with national associations on topics like direct mail and annual funds. Growth is coming and our new wedding invitation division is starting to gain traction.”
Like many other entrepreneurs, she says that the hardest part of owning a business is that you don’t get a break. “The company is on my mind 25 hours a day. Overall though, I feel very, very fortunate – I’m just happy. The best part of it all is that I’ve been able to create my own lifestyle. I’m in charge of my own destiny and I really enjoy helping others.”
Recently, Rescigno’s has been celebrating their 25th anniversary. “We’re making it all about the customers. It’s a huge year of ‘thank yous’. I’m proud to say that we still work with our first client.” The garage is just a distant memory and the company now operates with 10 full-time and 5 part-time employees.
Susan posted this review on the SmartBizLoans page of the independent review site TrustPilot:
“I was very happy with my experience with SmartBiz Loans. After receiving my first loan for growing my business I went back to them when I needed to get our mortgage refinanced. They are very helpful and knowledgeable and I will continue to work with them to grow my business.”
Susan’s company website sums up their entrepreneurial journey well:
“Great things happen when passion, experience and expertise come together at the just the right moment. Rescigno’s is a story of humbling beginnings, growth, and reinvention.”
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