Weathering the Business Storm in Detroit

Jul 16, 2012

In the 1920s, the rapid growth of the automobile industry in Detroit caused a boom in housing due to the large number of people moving to the region. This, in turn, created a demand for wholesale contractors selling materials to facilitate the development of real estate in the area.

In 1928, the Stephenson family, recognizing the many opportunities offered by the growth of the auto industry in Detroit, relocated from Virginia and established Virginia Tile, a provider of ceramic tile and natural stone for both residential and commercial development. 

Over the next 80 years, Virginia Tile experienced highs and lows, successes and failures. Reflecting on the company’s evolution, Bill Stephenson, president and third-generation owner, and Mark Ott, senior vice president and CFO, both recognize and emphasize the importance of their bank being a true colleague and partner in business. That’s why they made a decision in 2004 to move their business to Bank of America.

“There are many banks in the Detroit area that are very competent and competitive,” said Mark Ott, Senior Vice President of Virginia Tile. “But the real issue is, who are the people behind the financial reports and loan documents? That is where Bank of America stands apart. That’s why we chose to go into a partnership with them.”

Several years after Virginia Tile moved its business to Bank of America, the 2008 financial crisis occurred. The construction business was significantly affected by the financial downturn and slowed greatly. Understandably, these economic conditions impacted Virginia Tile’s business.

Yet Bank of America’s partnership with Virginia Tile allowed the company to weather the storm. The bank’s deep understanding of Virginia Tile’s business, as well as the company’s values, allowed it to provide sound advice on how to run the company profitably.

“Our relationship with Bank of America and our client manager, Greg Castle, has become one where I consider Greg a colleague and consultant, as well as a banker,” said Stephenson. “Our relationship with Bank of America has been very good for Virginia Tile. They have helped us grow through a very difficult period.”   

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