Flexible funding fuels innovation for Oak Ridge manufacturer
Jeff Bohanan always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and used his years of engineering experience at Y-12 to start a consulting business. From there, Bohanan moved into component manufacturing after winning a contract with Mercedes Benz – to the tune of a million parts within five years.
“It was that first project that gave us our wings,” says Bohanan. Twenty years later Protomet has grown to a full-service engineering, manufacturing, and technology corporation serving the automotive, commercial aerospace, marine, military, and scientific sectors.
While starting a business presented one set of challenges, growing presented another. By 2009, Protomet’s work in the marine industry represented a large portion of their portfolio. They received unexpected news when the aluminum finishing company they’d been using announced it was closing. With continuity of service in mind, Bohanan made the decision to acquire that company. Bringing new services in house allowed Protomet to expand its capabilities and focus on innovation across all their product lines, which can be seen today in their award-winning optic grade boat mirrors sold under the PTM Edge Watersports label.
Growth brings a unique set of challenges, including cash flow constraints, which can bring to a halt years of progress. Not content to let that happen, Bohanan came to Pathway Lending to finance equipment to take on new orders and expand his products.
“For a startup company, flexible funding is critical to the life cycle of your business,” says Bohanan. “Longer terms give you more runway to work with. Pathway has been a critical component of our business trajectory.”
Working with Pathway Lending has given Bohanan the flexible funding he needed to grow. Since starting their relationship with Pathway Lending in 2012, Protomet has grown from 40 to 110 employees, expanded their facility and has seen revenue increase.
“We’re not looking to get a bigger piece of the pie,” says Bohanan. “We’re using innovation to grow the pie.” That commitment to innovation has created a stable, thriving business that provides long-term employment and ongoing skills development for their East Tennessee community.
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