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Steel River Case Study
A $50 million, cash-intensive project with just a $1 million line of credit seemed like an impossible task for one scaling business. Here’s how Steel River got “paid faster” and secured the working capital to meet payroll, pay expenses, and preserve positive relationships with their subcontractors and suppliers.
Traditional banks were always a step behind when it came to funding the growth of Steel River. In this discussion, the company explains how a brief encounter on an invoice software platform created a trusting relationship that has given his company the money it needs to take on new projects of any size.
Started in May 2017, Steel River Group is a leading Indigenous owned and operated construction and service management firm specializing in the oil and gas sector.
Based in Alberta, Canada, the firm’s subsidiaries specialize in general contracting, construction management, water management, and equipment leasing and operating. Its operations center on an Indigenous inclusion ecosystem model that aims to build long-term support to these communities.
By 2019, the company had grown to the point that it could accept large projects from a single client.
In February of that year, its subsidiary, Steel River Solutions, was named as the Prime Contractor for a massive natural gas infrastructure project that would employ upwards of 300 people. However, they quickly realized that one change in customer payment policies can turn a ripple into a tsunami across their entire supply chain.
With banks too slow to help them scale, they would need to overcome a cash flow challenge they hadn’t expected before accepting a $50 million project.
Steel River was working on its first very large project – a $50 million one to be exact.
At the onset of the project, the large customer had agreed to pay within 15 days. This would make it possible for Steel River to continually purchase supplies, pay subcontractors, and meet payroll and other ordinary and unexpected expenses.
Things went as planned until one day they did not.
The client suddenly stopped paying on 15-day terms.
Suddenly, Steel River was facing waits lasting “months and months and months” for payment.
As a startup, Steel River didn’t have a significant amount of cash on hand. They also didn’t have an extensive track record to help bolster their credit line with the bank. “Executing a $50 million project on a $1 million line of credit will place a lot of financial stress on the organization,” said Steel River’s Finance Lead Kevan Mikkelsen.
While $1 million is a lot of money, such a credit line wasn’t enough to meet this project’s needs. And, the bank wasn’t willing to lend more money or extend more credit.
In addition to owing money to their suppliers, they also faced a $1.2 million payroll hit just four days out.
They weighed their options. Naturally, with the client extending payment terms, they could have stretched their own payments out just as far to suppliers. However, they recognized that similar actions would have had a very negative impact on their relationship with vendors and suppliers.
When the expected payment wasn’t hitting their account, they had a second option.
The Steel River team decided to “get paid faster.”
Two months before the project, Steel River discovered FundThrough through CORTEX, a provider of automated e-invoicing solutions. They had previously recognized FundThrough’s “Get Paid Faster” button on OpenInvoice as well.
The firm’s leadership was intrigued by the simplicity of FundThrough’s messaging – the idea that companies could quickly receive cash for their outstanding invoices.
Even though they weren’t in financial stress at the time, they recognized that FundThrough had a partnership with Cortex. This provided a sense of trust and legitimacy.
Weeks later, with their new, massive project creating cash flow headaches, their bank remained two steps behind on financing options. At the same time, Steel River was ramping up its operations. This included the hiring of labor, the procurement of equipment, and the establishment of biweekly payment terms for everyone involved. While exploring their different funding options, they remembered FundThrough.
After working with the FundThrough team, Steel River factored existing invoices and had money in the firm’s account within 48 hours.
Steel River’s leadership had a lot of questions about the factoring practice. But FundThrough proved that invoice factoring wasn’t just a simple way to get funding, but it was also a vital tool to help boost and better manage company cash flow. And given Steel River’s positive relationship with its client, FundThrough was able to work with both teams to ensure the invoices were ultimately paid.
Today, Steel River regularly works to FundThrough to mitigate and short-term financial stress
Its leaders find their ability to meet its mission to be highly rewarding. Today, Steel River succeeds in helping indigenous-owned firms operate efficiently and make money without payment delays.
Call Out Quotes
A TRUSTED PARTNERSHIP BRINGS TWO CREDIBLE COMPANIES TOGETHER
“I thought, “Well, they have a partnership with CORTEX. They must be pretty legit.”
PEACE OF MIND KNOWING YOUR MONEY WILL ARRIVE
“There is definitely a sense of peace of mind knowing that if the client doesn’t pay the invoice, we can factor it, and we can make our payments. There is definitely peace of mind when we think about FundThrough.”
FAST, EASY FUNDING WITHOUT THE HASSLE OF A BANK
“We were able to complete jobs solely through the support of FundThrough. [It was great] to be able to find a lender — without meeting you guys and instead working over the phone and through email – who would have lent us that much money. From my experience dealing with banks and other mezzanine financing groups, that wouldn’t have happened. We couldn’t have done it without you.”
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