Casey Mitchell's interview with Restaurant Finance Monitor:
“When I got into the industry, I realized I loved it from the start,” said Casey Mitchell, CLFP, SVP of Sales for Amur Equipment Finance. Mitchell, a 25-year industry veteran, owned his own loan brokerage company, and became familiar with Amur in 2004, then Axis Capital. At the time, they were a “common sense-type lender,” funding hard assets for manufacturing, construction, transportation and agriculture.
“Fast forward through the Great Recession, and the company was still doing business, when a lot of other lenders headed to the sidelines,” Mitchell recalled. “They came to me in 2010 and told me they were expanding.” Those conversations continued and in 2012, they acquired Mitchell’s company, and he joined the management team.
Amur continued to grow, and as he described it, they were intent on taking it from a small boutique lending company to one with larger aspirations. “The company has grown to $1 billion in annual originations,” he said. “And we have no intention of slowing down.”
Franchise finance is a big focus for Amur. “Over the last couple of years, we have become more and more active in the franchise space, listening and learning about the nuance of lending here,” said Mitchell. “And now it might be underserved due to the constraints other lenders may be under. We are excited to fill the need.”
Amur finances construction, FF&E, soft costs, franchise fees and all other things that go into a site, with the exception of the real estate. “At our core,” he explained, “we’re best at a project that has some FF&E component— new kitchen equipment, technology upgrades, redoing the signage, reimaging, remodeling.”
And, he said they can finance up to two times the equipment. “So, we can include that install cost, the permitting, the franchise fee,” he added. “Those costs are real to the franchisee, so we want to be as helpful as we can be.”
Amur is currently targeting 150 brands. Top-tier brands, to Amur, are those that own both corporate and franchised locations, and are going to help support locations that struggle, either by corporate operating them, or replacing them with a successful franchisee.
For Amur, Tier 1 brands have at least 150 locations, are present in a cross section of U.S. markets, have a less than-5% closure rate, and have shown positive same store sales growth. Tier-two brands have at least 75 locations, and are growing.
Their application-only process funds transactions from $500,000 on up to $3 million for any one tax I.D. “From a growth perspective, we can take a small operator and continue to go up to that $3 million,” Mitchell said. “We’ll do a store this year, and the next, and the next.
As they become more marketable for the broader lending space, we do have the full-service syndication desk that can manage that process and can create dry powder for the borrower.”
Amur’s program is built to help franchisees and franchisors alike, he said. They can build a program around a franchisor’s objectives, and partner with them to help market it to the franchisees at conventions and trade shows, for example. “We can really be an extension of the brand,” said Mitchell.
He’s excited about the growth opportunities for Amur, adding that they are still hiring sales origination and underwriting positions for their franchise efforts.
“We have a great opportunity here, because there is a void in the marketplace,” said Mitchell. “Capital has become constrained. We are not going anywhere. We can provide some much-needed help.” For more information, contact Casey Mitchell at CMitchell@amuref.com, or at 914-346-4152.
Read the full interview on page 4 and more by clicking the link below:
Restaurant Finance Monitor - July 17th, 2023