This is the second edition of our new “Ten Questions” series. We are interviewing local leaders in the public and private sector to explore their views on manufacturing and leadership. The first edition featured John Leland of UDRI and there are several more to come.
Steve Naas is President of CountyCorp. CountyCorp was established as a non-profit corporation in 1979. Their mission is focused on small business finance and affordable housing development across the Dayton region. In 2010, they issued nearly $3.5 million in small business loans and helped create 79 new jobs. Steve has a finance degree from Wright State University and over 20 years of business experience.
1. How would you describe your current position in your organization?
As President of CountyCorp, I get lots of credit due to the excellent work of my staff, and in fairness, I get to worry about things that most of them probably don’t.
2. How did you get started in your field?
It all started with an interview with Bank One, Dayton while I was at college. While I was not selected for that position, Roger Furrer suggested that I consider working for a Dayton not-for-profit named CityWide Development Corporation, which actually is very similar to CountyCorp. After 9 years there and then 5 with National City Bank, the founding President of CountyCorp retired and I was hired to fill those shoes.
3. How would you describe the current state of manufacturing in the Dayton region?
From our position, looking in from the outside, there appears to be many bright spots, yet there still are just as many struggling. I continue to be amazed at the number of firms that are doing very well.
4. What are some emerging trends or opportunities for the industry in Dayton?
A huge amount of the existing workforce is going to be retiring out of the industry in a short number of years. There will be shops experiencing an ownership change, and some will just see significant additional need for skilled labor.
5. What is the most important challenge facing the manufacturing industry today?
My take is that it is the workforce first, and access to financing second.
6. How can the manufacturing industry attract more young workers?
Efforts must continue to bring the shop floor to the young people of today. Ensure the very young are aware of just what happens in manufacturing by scheduling plant tours with students younger then high schoolers. If young people knew about the real opportunities both from what can be done in manufacturing and with the retirement out of the workforce of a significant amount of the skilled workforce, they would go into the industry.
7. How can your organization help manufacturing companies?
CountyCorp and its sister company CountyCorp Development can assist manufacturing companies in Ohio access very low interest rate financing. Through our BizCap brand of small business loan products, we help small businesses acquire real estate and/or equipment for their growth and expansion. We’re talking 2.35% fixed, for loan terms that can reach 20 years depending on the program. BizCap has excellent funding sources to be paired up with loans from conventional lenders such as area banks and credit unions that can help companies buy and/or build. BizCap’s maximum loan amount available is $5,500,000. The interest expense and cash flow savings from bringing BizCap in to the project are tremendous.
8. What are the keys to your professional success?
The professional staff at CountyCorp and the great work they do!
9. What is the best leadership advice you can offer to the business community?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to hire the person that can replace you. And listen.
10. Finally, if you could say just one thing to the manufacturing industry, what would it be?
Don’t leave any stone unturned as you are looking for revenue opportunities or cost savings.
Please let us know what you think, and give us your suggestions for the next edition of our “Ten Questions” interview.