Client Story - Global Railroad Materials
Client Name: Paulo Monaco
Business Name: Global Railroad Materials
Location: Londonderry, NH
SBDC Advisor: Andrea O’Brien
Meeting the demands of the global railroad industry in the 21st century is the genesis of Global Railroad Materials, founded in 2017 by partners Paulo Monaco and Joaquim Santos.
The company is the distributor of railroad materials - rails and components needed to keep the industry on track. The two men, investing $100 each, founded the company in 2017, connecting with companies here in the US, as well as internationally, in a very competitive sector.
“We had no sales in 2017 - it was all about investing and learning about the market,” Monaco said.
There was a lot to learn about the industry and how the company could meet the demand. Their first sale came in 2018 and the company began picking up steam in 2019, recording sales of about a half-million dollars.
The outlook for 2020 was even better, Monaco said, as the company projected tripling its sales.
But then came the global pandemic, and while millions of tons of freight still had to be transported via rail, Monaco and Santos were concerned COVID-19 and its ramifications could derail their fledgling business.
Monaco reached out to the NH Small Business Development Center for assistance in navigating the uncharted course of running a business as the world was locking down.
“We knew the railroads would keep running; if the trains stopped, the country would be in trouble,” Monaco said.
The brunt of the COVID-19 impact came in the early days, March and April 2020. While the partners had been working remotely since the inception of the business, the projects on which they were working and the orders for which they were waiting slowed precipitously.
“Things were taking longer to happen,” Monaco said. “Supply chains were shutting down and it was difficult at first to communicate with clients.”
It also grounded the partners from traveling themselves, getting out to meet clients and potential investors.
With such uncertainty, the NH SBDC became a lifeline for the partners. They connected with business advisor Andrea O’Brien, who quickly came up to speed on the global railroad industry and, using her business acumen, helped them make important connections with potential investors.
Starting with a continuity plan, Andrea helped the partners obtain some financing to keep them going.
“She set us up with a bank that gave us a line of credit on the spot and later on, a secondary line of credit, which really helped us keep things moving,” Monaco said.
O’Brien also lined them up with the US Commercial Service, which produced a lead with a potential partner in Monaco’s native Brazil.
“She was right on top of everything,” he said.
As the world starts to return to a new normal, Monaco and Santos continue to grow their business. Not only were they able to keep the clients they had before the pandemic, but new doors are also starting to open globally.
“Every time I was stuck on something and didn’t know what to do, Andrea was there,” Monaco said. “She answered questions I didn’t even know to ask and provided resources I needed if there was a challenge I couldn’t. Andrea went out of her way to connect with someone to leverage ideas.”
The pandemic may have slowed growth a little bit, but the partners are emerging from it stronger than before. They remain in contact with O’Brien, knowing that guidance and assistance is merely a phone call away.
“You should know when you need help - you can’t refuse business help,” Monaco said.