San Francisco Small Business Owner Ready to Throw in the Towel

okell's fireplace logoKevin McKee has been a proud San Francisco business owner since 1986. He followed all the rules, paid all the taxes, reported every dime of income, survived a couple recessions and has always been upfront and honest with his employees and customers.

McKee is the owner of Okell’s Fireplace, a full-service fireplace shop that has been keeping California homes warm for 70 years. Up until Covid reared its ugly head, McKee had never laid off a single employee.

“I’m proud of my small business. I’m proud to be an American small business owner who hasn’t ever laid a single person off in 34 years. The coronavirus hit us hard. We NEEDED help, TMC Financing is the only place that gave it to us.”

Small business financing

TMC Financing, a provider of SBA 504 Commercial Real Estate Loans, was allocated funds to disperse under the Paycheck Protection Program. However, their funds were limited so they restricted their PPP loans to their clients/past borrowers. Luckily this included McKee, who worked with TMC in 2012 to obtain financing to purchase a warehouse for the business.

“The initial email we received from Kevin wasn’t pleasant,” admits Barbara Morrison, President of TMC Financing. “But I don’t blame him at all! He came to us after a very frustrating experience with his bank and at a very stressful time. Tensions were high. Once he realized TMC was different and that we would actually respond to him, he did a 180.”

“I applied through Bank of America, who I’ve banked with for twenty-five years, within the first hour of the start of the program,” explains McKee. “To this day, I have not heard one thing from them other than my application was complete. The CARES funding was intended to help small businesses. So, when I read the news that organizations like Shake Shack, the Lakers, and other larger companies received the first round of funding, I was ready to throw in the towel.”

Light at the end of the long tunnel

Thankfully, TMC was able to process, approve, and fund a PPP loan to McKee and Okell’s Fireplace during the second wave of PPP funding. McKee will use the funds to help cover payroll and occupancy costs.

“I’m not embarrassed to say that the PPP approval email I received from TMC had me sobbing. To be told I can’t work and to sit and watch my business die has been emotionally exhausting and super frustrating. This loan will help save my business and I am so thankful.”

This experience has been eye-opening for McKee. It has also motivated him to be more of an advocate for small businesses.

“We are hardworking people with very little voice since we’re often too busy working,” says McKee. “But we deserve to be heard.”

About TMC Financing

TMC Financing is the number one SBA 504 Lender in the nation. TMC has nearly 40 years of experience. They have also helped nearly 6,000 businesses throughout California and Nevada obtain financing to grow their business. Contact a TMC loan expert to find out more about the SBA 504 Program loans and also how to get started with a prequalification

Got more questions about your project?

  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpeg, jpg, gif, png, pdf, Max. file size: 50 MB.
      Allowed formats: jpeg, jpg, gif, png, pdf
    • How would you like us to respond?

    • Note: Some questions will be published anonymously with their answers at the end of this story to share with other readers.