An entrepreneurial future shaped by a legacy of military values

When U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Chris Dambach returned home after serving in Iraq in 2010, he wanted to find a way to meaningfully re-enter civilian life while continuing to live the military values of dedication to service and duty that he learned in the Corps.

That’s when he was inspired to launch Industry Standard USA, LLC, a facility maintenance company based in Liverpool, NY, focused on serving military bases and National Cemeteries.

Chris Dambach

In December 2018, Chris obtained a loan from the Bank of America Veteran Entrepreneur Lending Program. The loan—administered through the Excelsior Growth Fund, a community development financial institution (CDFI) affiliated with the New York Business Development Corporation—wasn’t the only benefit Chris received. As part of the program, he also gained access to technical training at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, which not only provided him with strategies to grow his operation but also helped connect him to additional lenders to seed his business.

Black truck

“We are proud to support veteran entrepreneurs like Chris,” said Steven Cohen, president of Excelsior Growth Fund. “He had a clear vision and need, and with the support of Bank of America, we were able to provide the capital he required to take advantage of several substantial business opportunities.”

Bank of America’s $20 million Veteran Entrepreneur Lending Program connects U.S. military veteran business owners with affordable capital to help kick-start and grow their organizations. Loans are administered through select CDFI partners—which provide capital to individuals who may not qualify for traditional loan products—across seven states. Since the program launched in June 2018, $9 million in small business loans have already been extended to more than 100 veterans, military spouses, active military personnel and/or caretakers.

Industry standard team

“Of the more than 200,000 U.S. service members who transition to civilian life each year, many are entrepreneurially minded, interested in running and growing their own businesses,” said Michael J. Winter, ESG Executive at Bank of America. “Through our Veteran Entrepreneur Lending Program and our CDFI partners, we’re helping connect veteran-owned businesses to the affordable capital they need to succeed.”

Recently, Industry Standard USA, LLC was awarded a five-year contract to care for the Long Island National VA Cemetery in Farmingdale, with a special charge to raise and realign all the veteran headstones—more than 350,000 memorials in total. With funding from the Excelsior Growth Fund, Chris was able to hire the 13 new employees he needed to complete the large and meaningful contract.

“Having the opportunity to fulfill contracts like Farmingdale and honor my brothers and sisters-in-arms is why I was inspired to start Industry Standard,” said Chris. “I really am so grateful to Bank of America and Excelsior Growth Fund—not only for their financial support that allowed us to scale Industry Standard, which is now a five million dollar company, but also for their commitment to creating opportunities for veteran entrepreneurs like me.”

Originally published 10/28/2019