By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
“I grew-up in manufacturing,” Randy Marmet says. “My dad had a machine shop, and there were some inventors in the family. I think I was expected to go into business.”
So, at 14 years of age, the Ohio native started his first venture, producing art – airbrushing, he calls it – for cars. “I went downtown and got a business license,” Marmet says, acknowledging that he wasn’t sure he needed a license, but he got it just in case.
After turning 19, he moved to Florida where he founded the first of several enterprises. “I had a number of businesses that flopped,” Marmet admits. One that did not was Auto Trim Express Inc. that he started, based on a faster and improved process Marmet developed to install vinyl graphics on automobiles.
When he sold it in the mid-2000s, the company was manufacturing and selling products across the U.S. and in 14 other countries. Marmet took several years off, bought an RV, and toured the National Parks in the west with his wife. As part of that journey, they put 24,000 miles on a new Harley Davidson motorcycle in a year.
Unhappy with the hot summers in Florida and cold winters in Ohio, the Marmets decided to find a more temperate place to call their next home. “I looked at a map, saw a couple of inviting lakes, and decided to move to White Pine,” he says. For those not familiar with the community, it is located in Jefferson County east of I-81.
“Then, I took three years to build a house with my wife,” Marmet says. And, when he says they built it, they literally did almost totally by themselves.
Now, roughly eight years after moving to East Tennessee, the third-generation manufacturing executive is drawing on his many years of experience growing companies to help business owners achieve their goals and dreams. The vehicle Marmet is using is LEAP Kapital LLC, an enterprise he founded about two years ago.
“We call ourselves brokers, but it is more than that . . . we’re matchmakers,” he says in describing the venture. “We find the right lender for you.”
From his days founding and running businesses in Florida, Marmet says he learned several important lessons.
“When you are a manufacturer, you have your head down getting things done,” he explained. “Yet, you need to be focused on the future.”
To be successful in growing a business, an owner must have access to the right financing.
“My experience was financers don’t understand manufacturing,” Marmet says. “Entrepreneurs see an opportunity to a fault, financers only see risks.”
The approach that he is taking at LEAP Kapital is to bring the two closer together, helping entrepreneurs and owners see the risks while helping lenders understand the opportunity. Marmet’s fee is generally paid by the financial institution. If the client pays, his fee is one percent of the transaction value.
What’s the profile of his ideal client?
“I like companies in the two-year period that are struggling before banks are interested in financing them,” Marmet says. “I do small and mid-size deals up to $15 million.”
The funds are most frequently used to lease equipment, expand a building, or as a line of credit.