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Kalamazoo’s RJ’s Printing legacy grows with new chapter and new owner

Sean Hollins sits at a computer keyboardImagine being perfectly suited to take over a well-established, highly respected small business but you must first get over two big hurdles: arrange financing worth roughly a half-million dollars and deal with the restrictions of the COVID pandemic. 

A story in Second Wave SW Michigan talks about Sean Hollins and the long road to him buying RJ’s Printing.

Sean Hollins of Kalamazoo got it done with help from financial organizations that exist for just this purpose — four such organizations in Hollins’ case.

The Small Business Development Center at Western Michigan University got him started on the road. Northern Initiatives, LISC, Rende Progress Capital, and the City of Kalamazoo also got on board.

“It was a collaboration of all these entities that helped me because I never bought a business before–and also the owner never sold a business before. Those community resources were very instrumental in helping us get through this process,” says Hollins.

Hollins continues, “And then it was all happening during COVID. People were pulling back at that point and weren’t lending. I’m like, ‘I guess this is over.’ But both Northern Initiatives and LISC helped navigate through that space. So it was a great partnership.”

Dealing with COVID required sharp focusing, according to Venard Roberson, a commercial lender for Northern Initiatives. “Sonja and I and LISC and Northern Initiatives all understood the importance of making such a transaction possible, especially for one minority business owner selling to another one,” he says. “During COVID we kinda put our ducks in a row. We continuously had meetings and in those meetings, we just discussed what was needed to get this done — how do we move from one step to the next.”

Read the full story in Second Wave

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