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RPC Select Customer Feature: Power of Perseverance and Partnerships

Perseverance. Along with resiliency, we at Rende Progress Capital [RPC] often mention perseverance as a quality of many of our Excluded Entrepreneur of Color small business loan customers.

I wanted to highlight some examples of new RPC loan customers---and our partners---who demonstrated perseverance in the journey of economic equity and opportunity.

RPC Associate Partner for Lending Opportunity and Administration Elisa Starnes, RPC loan committee, Northern Initiatives and Fortitude Graphic/RJ's Printing along with other financing partners persevered through a very lengthy period of a financing process to equip Fortitude Graphic with a loan----a joint participation loan between RPC, Northern Initiatives and LISC. This loan ensures the acquisition of RJ's Printing by Fortitude Graphic for it to remain an African-American owned business as the retiring founder hands over the business to the new African-American owner that was mentored and nurtured to lead it.

All parties remained committed to the unique process of the deal----and persevered to stay the course amid technical and market changes.

An additional display of perseverance is another example of a new RPC customer, Casa Pintura. First contacting RPC last year for introductions and before pursuing and inquiring about a small business loan, owners Edgar Guerrero and Juan Salmoran were patient to learn about all facets of RPC lending as participants in the RPC Pre-Loan Readiness Incubator. They chose to stay committed to simply learning about lending opportunities, and took the initiative to receive additional loan navigation assistance.

I thank the RPC staff, Fortitude Graphic/RJ's Printing, Casa Pintura and lending partner Northern Initiatives for persevering through challenges to achieve opportunity.


Eric K. Foster

Co-Founder, Chair and Managing Director

Fortitude Graphic

Fortitude Graphic represents a variety of RPC loan milestones, first as this African-American owned business is another joint participation loan with Northern Initiatives. Second, this is a RPC participating loan in broader geographic areas we are continuing to serve in the Lakeshore and Southwest Michigan. Third, this loan is one of our firsts where financing is for the purposes of facilitating new business ownership.

RJ's Printing is managed by Ralph Jones. Located in Kalamazoo, the business was founded in 1995 by Walter Jones and Ralph Jones as the first Black-owned and operating commercial printing company in Kalamazoo.

RJ's Printing provides high-quality commercial printing [press and digital] and professional design services. For 30 years, the company's client base has included customers from South Carolina to Las Vegas, the City of Kalamazoo, Heritage Guitar, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, Community Voices and many others.

Sean Hollins heads Fortitude Graphic. In 1995 Mr. Hollins joined RJ's Printing as a Graphic Designer. He worked at RJ's Printing for 5 years and left RJ's Printing to start a business called Fortitude Graphic Design and Printing.

Now at the helm of the business based on Ralph's mentoring and training to Sean---and his 30 years of experience in the industry---this business looks forward to continued revenue, market and employee growth.

Visit here to learn more about RJ's Printing:

Casa Pintura

Established in 2015 by Edgar Guerrero and Juan Salmoran, and located in Byron Center, MI, Casa Pintura specializes in residential and commercial painting services. It is Casa Pintura's goal to "strive to exceed the expectations of each

and every customer by using the highest quality products and paying attention to all the details" in all their work including specializing in higher-end remodeling projects.

Casa Pintura represents a continued milestone as it is another of the growing family-owned business in our portfolio. As immigrants from Mexico who worked in various jobs for low pay and limited career advancements, Edgar and Juan determined that starting their own business would provide better enjoyment, profit and opportunities for social responsibility. The latter is evident in their planning a skilled labor construction training and apprenticeship program for others.

In addition to RPC's investment being based on their business fundamentals and tenure, RPC chose to invest in Casa Pintura per our racial equity lens which included the business's plans for investing in the professional and personal growth of other immigrants, specifically those who speak Spanish as the first language and the barriers from it as Juan and Edgar persevered through.

The RPC loan will allow Casa Pintura to experience continued growth in revenue, equipment and employees.

Visit here to learn more about Casa Pintura: