An injury forced Richard Nauman to forge a new career path – but after two years of unemployment he couldn’t get the startup funds he needed to make his dream a reality. Rising Tide helped him get started and provided guidance as his business transformed.
Heavy highway laborer Richard Nauman was working on a gas pipeline when severe heat stroke and complications related to the experience cost him his job. When his workers’ compensation claim was denied, he was worried. But that initial concern was nothing compared to the level of desperation he had reached two years later. Without a single unemployment check or a penny of workers’ compensation support, Nauman was still unable to find permanent work.
He was a union laborer used to jackhammering on highways but he couldn’t go back to that line of work without risking a relapse. And there were no local contractors he could approach to go on light duty; the vast majority of heavy highway projects were being bid on by—and awarded to—out-of-state contractors who hired heavy laborers as needed.
Nauman had been plowing snow on the side for years and had amassed enough savings—and seasonal contracts—to just keep him from drowning while he searched for a new career path. But he didn’t know what else to do.
Until he got tipped off to what sounded like the opportunity of a lifetime.
Grabbing Opportunity by the Horns
A huge dredging project along the Delaware was in the planning stages that would open up the river to allow larger barges to pass through to Philadelphia ports. Nauman had connections working on the plan and they were estimating the project would result in regular work 7 days a week for almost 25 years.
“I knew if I could just get a triaxle dump truck, I could get in on the job doing hauling,” Nauman said. “But my credit was in the toilet and I couldn’t show income for two years. I knew there wasn’t a bank in the world that would touch me. Still, I tried.”
Nauman approached a number of banks for a traditional loan and, as expected, was turned away. He was just too much of a liability. That’s when he heard about Rising Tide Community Loan Fund—from one of the loan officers. He figured he had nothing to lose and reached out to see what Rising Tide had to offer.
Rising Tide helped Nauman write up his business plan, including anticipated revenue and details related to how the envisioned the business working. He had a ton of ideas for remaining competitive—what he could do better than the competition—and a realistic understanding of the pros and cons of the business he was trying to start. Rising Tide helped him organize his concepts, build the supporting research and documentation, and finally present his case to the Rising Tide Loan Committee. His application for a small business loan was approved and he was able to purchase his first dump truck.
“I was going to do whatever I needed to do at that point, because I know you only get out what you put into something,” recalls Nauman. “But the application process wasn’t anywhere near as long as I expected. You still have to show up and do your part—and a lot of paperwork—but Rising Tide was there to walk me through every step of the way.”
Although the initial dredging project Nauman was hoping for fell through, he had established a solid enough plan and connections in the industry to keep him more than busy hauling for other projects with his new equipment. When the recession hit and the hauling business turned cut-throat, Nauman sold his dump truck and transitioned into formal landscaping and snow removal services, landing a number of large contracts with housing corporations. Through it all, Nauman continued to turn to Rising Tide for things such as help incorporating into an LLC and getting loans for a number of small equipment purchases—even after his credit had recovered and he had consistent revenue.
Today, in addition to running AFab Hauling, Nauman also manages Lehigh Valley Community Benefit, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for area families affected by tragedy, first responders, active duty and military veterans, as well as animals in need. Giving back to the community and staying involved in Rising Tide’s efforts to reach new small business owners and entrepreneurs in need is Nauman’s way of paying it forward.
“If it weren’t for Rising Tide, I’d be living on the street. I couldn’t have done any of this without them,” Nauman said. “But you can’t just put your hand out. You have to work for it.”