|L'Nique Specialty Linen Rental
Valley View, OH
|Words of Wisdom|
"Follow your heart; go with your gut. Starting a business can be scary, but if you love your business, clients and employees, you will absolutely succeed."
Deidre Dockman and Angela Klodnick
"PNC helps us grow by proactively recommending new products and services. We rarely have to call our banker because she's already anticipated our need."
Party Partners Practice What They Preach
Deidre Dockman and Angela Klodnick know how to throw a great party. Co-owners of L'Nique, a rental company specializing in table linens and chair covers, they advise corporate and individual clients on putting just the right touches on their weddings, business events, themed birthday parties and other festive get-togethers.
And when it comes to building their own business, Deidre and Angela follow suit - by throwing elaborate "appreciation" parties for 500 or so guests that showcase not only L'Nique's gorgeous linens and broad-ranging event planning expertise but also the food, flowers and accoutrements of companies they collaborate with in the events industry.
"We've been hosting appreciation parties since our first year in business because we genuinely treasure the support we get from clients and other business associates, friends and family," explains Deidre. The exposure the parties attract generates growth for L'Nique, too, so when the recession hit, the owners turned to their party strategy once again. "We organized a speed networking event to support current and potential business partners, and we attracted almost 500 guests," she adds. "Since spouses weren't invited, we lowered our cost per business contact considerably. It was a huge success."
Gaining the Financial Edge
The phenomenal growth of their networks is only one aspect of the success Angela and Deidre have shared. Since the chance meeting in the mid-'90s that led them to establish L'Nique in 1998, the two have transformed their business into an industry leader in Northeast Ohio.
Focused on stringent quality control and long-term relationship-building, the owners led L'Nique to double-digit growth annually until the recession began. Even during the down economy, they've continued to generate modest growth rates. The 20- to 30-employee firm has been operating since 2004 from a 16,000-square-foot facility, which includes a 3,000-square-foot showroom and offices - a far cry from the garage at Angela's home where the "party" began.
Strategic financial planning has fueled L'Nique's growth. "When we started out, we charged our equipment, linens and supplies to our personal credit cards," Angela shares. "With my husband, a CPA, we developed a five-year business plan that included various financing alternatives. We've since taken out and paid back a number of loans, including Small Business Administration (SBA) and Economic Development Loans as well as conventional bank financing." L'Nique has also creatively financed the friendly acquisition of a competitor, paying the owner in monthly installments over five years.
"Making capital investments is vital to your company's health," says Deidre. "Sometimes you have to take a risk to grow to the next level. We carefully research the alternatives and choose the option that best aligns with our objectives."
PNC was instrumental in creating the financing package that enabled L'Nique to buy its current facility. "We began working with the bank in 2004 and have had great relationships with every representative," says Deidre. "PNC helps us grow by proactively recommending new products and services. We rarely have to call our banker because she's already anticipated our need."
Adds Angela, "It's a relationship worth celebrating!"