SELCO Community Credit Union Backs Local Entrepreneur

It all starts with a vision. That’s been true for many business owners and has been the case for Rob Lawler, owner of Willow Creek Self Storage in Eugene.

It began in 2005, when Lawler sat at his computer and drew out the plans for his dream business. “You start with an idea that seems to make sense, and then it becomes almost a nagging presence that you feel you have to explore,” he recounts. With a list of the characteristics he wanted and a long-term goal to have a facility designed to benefit his future customers, he set to work.

“Everything about this facility is designed to save people money and provide services to them that they can’t find anywhere else,” he says. He explains that the facility was created with a 35-foot wide road to accommodate trucks, 24-hour access, a forklift for customer use, ample lighting in every unit, no long-term leases, and pro-rated rent with no 30-day notice required. If that’s not enough, every unit starts with a free month of rent. Upon first glance, it’s the containers that seem different—but the way Lawler has structured his business operations is what makes Willow Creek Self Storage unique.

Work began to turn Lawler’s vision into reality when, sadly, his mentor and financier passed away. With a half-built project, he scoured the area looking for a financial partner.

“It was so ‘non-conforming’ that no one would touch it,” he recalls, adding that, “it was 2011, in the bottom of the market where money was next to impossible to get.”

That’s when Lawler, a SELCO Community Credit Union member since the age of 11, came to SELCO’s Member Business Services team. He met with Vice President Business Loan Officers Eric Lind and, recently retired, Pat Costello; both of whom, he says, took a personal interest in his project—despite the denials from other financial institutions all over town. He adds, “Those two refused to let this drop, and we all pushed through a very long process.”

SELCO has been able to help with multiple phases of this project, using a variety of U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs.

“My family and I will always be grateful for Pat and Eric being so determined to make that loan happen,” he says. Now, a mere three years later, Lawler has begun another phase to expand his facility with SELCO’s Member Business Services by his side.

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