Dan Convertino, who has been self-employed his whole life, now owns four companies in Las Vegas that have been greatly affected by the economic fallout from COVID-19. Like other business owners, he’s had to adapt quickly to changing conditions in order to survive.

Convertino moved to Las Vegas in 2005 to retire after a career in which he owned several different types of businesses. However, he quickly became bored with retirement and ended up buying a car repair shop. This evolved into a new career with car rentals, shops to repair and service his rental cars, and another shop to service high-end vehicles,

His principal business, Exotic Car Rentals of Las Vegas (dba Fantasy Car Rentals), depended on tourists who wanted to rent Ferraris, Lamborghinis, or other exotic vehicles for their Las Vegas vacation. “After the Governor’s order effectively shut down the Strip in March, I had to immediately cancel $15,000 in rentals,” Convertino said. “My car rental company was dead in the water.”

He also owns Battle Born Collision and Las Vegas Exotic Collision and Repair. Because repair shops were considered essential businesses, they were able to stay open, but business slowed down because people weren’t driving as much. At Benz Tek Performance, which specializes in high-end cars, “If somebody did bring in a car to have work done, they didn’t want to do more than the basics,” he said. “If we said they needed a brake job, they’d ask how long they could go before it became a problem, and they’d put it off until their business improved or until they got a stimulus check.”

Convertino was forced to lay off most of his staff at the rental company, but kept the employees at the other companies, although there wasn’t much work for them. “I sat down with the employees at each of my companies to discuss what to do. I explained I was going to apply for funding and we discussed ways to cut down overhead,” he explained. “Because I didn’t have a big debt load, I figured we could stay open for three or four months, but after that, who knows? My collision and repair people have business cards, so they started going out, trying to drum up customers.”

To deal with these unexpected challenges, Convertino approached the bank where he had had his business accounts for nine years and had always received excellent service. He asked about applying for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from the Small Business Administration to help with payroll and other expenses. “I pay cash for everything and all my companies are pretty much debt-free,” he said. “My banker said they were only taking PPP loan applications from companies that owed them money. That way, they wouldn’t go under and default on their loans. Since I didn’t have business loans with them, they wouldn’t help me.”

Convertino called other local banks, and ended up talking with Karen Tesar, Branch Manager at Nevada State Bank’s Craig/Clayton branch, about applying for a PPP loan. “I sent her the information she asked for, and she was super good about getting back to me, even though I knew she was really busy,” he said. “She even called me once on Sunday afternoon. When the first round of funding dried up, she put me in line for the second round, and I got funded. Everyone I dealt with at NSB has been fantastic! At the Southern Highlands branch near my house, I met Peter Ponce [Business Relationship Manager] and Sujata Passi, Branch Manager. Even the people who helped me set up my accounts and my debit cards were nothing but perfect – I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Like many other small business owners, Convertino has had to rethink his business model in order to meet a changing market. Since there wasn’t much demand anymore for the exotic foreign cars, which were expensive to maintain and repair, he replaced them with classic cars like Mustangs, Cadillacs ​ and Thunderbirds – cheaper to buy, maintain and repair, and they can be rented at a lower price point. He’s also considering franchising his classic car rental business. 

“I’m staying lean until things pick up,” he said. “Here’s what the PPP loan meant to me: My companies have a chance to make it through these crazy times and my workers can feed their families. So far, I’ve told at least 15 people about my experience with NSB and said they should move all their business to Nevada State Bank. I can’t say enough about how helpful they’ve been. I gave Karen’s card to my IT guy and another card to my insurance agent. I told them to go get it taken care of. It’s been stellar – I can’t say enough.”

To see more of our stories, visit www.nsbank.com/cares.

 

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC