In January 2016 we purchased a beautiful historic downtown Bozeman home, on Lindley Place, with the intent to completely renovate it and run it as a Bed & Breakfast. When we purchased the home, we used seller financing, which allowed us to begin renovating right away. This was done with the goal of being ready for guest reservations for the upcoming summer season. It also gave us time to sell our existing home that we had built in Baxter Meadows (which ended up getting an offer five days after we listed it). After the closing, we moved into the top room with our youngest daughter (who attends MSU) in what felt like a college dorm situation and immediately began demolition. Doing it this way required an enormous amount of optimism since we were counting on eventually finding the right lender to help with our final permanent financing.
At a whirlwind pace, with long evenings/weekends around Jordan’s regular full-time job at Lexis Nexis, we worked our way through the renovation. How did people do things like this without YouTube? Our experience put us in touch with some wonderful craftsmen of various fields (wood flooring,tape/texturing over wallpapered plaster walls, trim work, staircases and tile). We learned to use tools we had never heard of and gained a few more gray hairs. Our first guests arrived at The Lindley House on June 5 th and that first summer we had 98.6 % occupancy seven days a week! We continued to work on completing the remaining areas of renovation while learning how to run a new business. I served breakfast in the morning, cleaned lots of bathrooms, did loads of laundry and then put on my renovation work clothes. It was a very busy, tiring, exciting time for us.
During all of this, we felt some anxiety about finding the right person to help us figure out our permanent loan. We knew we needed someone that would recognize and feel the passion we felt for how much effort we had put into this home and the changes we had made. We needed someone that would understand/recognize the Bozeman market and catch the vision for our new B&B with only six months under our belt.
We needn’t have worried because when we were introduced to Mark Gannon at Bank of Bozeman, things just fell into place. From that first meeting at our dining room table, he made us feel like we could trust him. He asked questions, walked through every part of the home, listened to what we had done, looked at our projections/results and explained the process. He was professional, calm mannered, matter of fact and upfront about our options. No matter how many questions we asked – he always found the answers. As things required adjusting, he was willing to explore what was needed to help us continue the process. He was willing to go to bat for us. It was so reassuring to feel complete confidence in him.
The day we went into his office to sign the initial loan agreement he walked us all around the bank, introducing us to everyone. We met various people who had been part of the process, had read our B&B reviews, looked at our website and participated in approving our loan. We met Laura Benson, our commercial loan administrator, who was absolutely wonderful to work with. We also met Susan Hillyerd, our Financial Services Representative, who helped us get our business and personal accounts opened as we moved everything over from our previous bank. Everyone was friendly, shook our hands and made us feel welcome.
This local bank experience has been completely different for us! As a new business owner, this could have been so stressful, overwhelming and much less personal. Instead we feel like we’ve been welcomed into the Bank of Bozeman family. As we continue to work at our new B&B business, we know we can count on them and have confidence that they will help guide us through any future financial decisions. We now understand, in a very personal way, the difference a local community bank can make.