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The (Almost) Never-Ending Search for the Right Building

Vol. 24 Issue 6

Post Categories: Real Estate

After 18 months of searching, Kathy Peterson didn’t think she and her husband, Brad, were ever going to find the right building for their company, Heartland Seating.

But earlier this year, they located the perfect spot at 11222 Johnson Drive in downtown Shawnee. Heartland—which sells and installs bleachers, auditorium chairs and other spectator seating in four states—moved into the one-story brick building that previously was home to
a flooring business.

Why They Wanted to Buy

Simply put, Heartland needed more room. For the past several years, the company had rented office space that it was quickly outgrowing. Meanwhile, it also had to pay for separate storage space for its materials and samples.

Locating the right kind of building was tricky, though. The Petersons needed a place that was divided almost evenly between
office and warehouse space. In most buildings they saw, the division was closer to 20 percent office, 80 percent warehouse.

The search became so difficult that Kathy Peterson wondered if it would be easier to simply build from scratch somewhere else.

But then she spotted the empty building at 11222 Johnson Drive and asked her bankers if they knew anything about it. As a matter of fact, the building belonged to a customer of theirs. It had been on the market only a couple of days.

“It was freaky how it came together,” Kathy Peterson said.

Where They Found Help

Heartland Seating is financing the project with an SBA-backed 504 loan through Central Bank of the Midwest and Heartland Business Capital, an SBA-licensed company that specializes in 504 loans.

“I liked the idea of a 30-year loan with the ability to pay it down after 20,” Kathy Peterson said.

The Petersons got a little extra boost from the Shawnee Economic Development Council, which wanted to keep Heartland Seating in the city. Through an existing grant program, the EDC paid off the upfront SBA loan fees associated with the company’s 504 loan.

Lessons Learned

The Petersons spent about a year and a half looking for a building, but that wasn’t wasted time. In fact, it was kind of a hidden blessing.

For one thing, it gave them time to fully consider all the implications of buying a building and what qualities were most
important for picking their site.

In Heartland Seating’s case, location was a big factor. The new building is close to major interstates—perfect for when one of their sales reps needs to get on the road and visit an out-of-town client. And most employees live around Shawnee, so it keeps their commute time down.

The 18 months also allowed the Petersons to continue putting away money for all the costs associated with the purchase. Their new building, for example, needed a complete renovation that required them to pay “more than I wanted to, but not as bad what I thought I would have to,” Kathy Peterson said.

That new space looks beautiful and is optimized for workflow. Peterson is particularly proud of the big, barn-style doors that lead into the conference room. They’re made from wood taken from former bleachers at a high school in St. Louis. “They’ve got all the character in the world.”

While there’s been a lot of work associated with the new building, it’s also been a proud milestone for Heartland Seating.

“It’s an investment in yourself, where you say, ‘OK, I’m here to stay,’” Peterson said. “It’s roots and wings at the same time.”