A Pilsen-based company that provides customized loans to small businesses and whose growth includes a surge in financing due to the coronavirus is moving to Fulton Market, where it plans to triple its employee headcount by 2022.
LQD Business Finance has leased from developer Sterling Bay the 10,000-square-foot building at 370 N. Carpenter St. Sterling Bay and financial partner J.P. Morgan Asset Management have used the building, a block from Google’s Midwest headquarters, as an incubator to launch local operations of companies such as Uber, Glassdoor and Flexport.
“We’re still a young company, maybe right on the cusp from being a startup to going more on the growth side,” said John Stanfield, chief financial officer of LQD. Founded in 2014, the company began making loans in 2015 and to date has provided financing worth about $160 million, he said.
LQD has been based at 329 W. 18th St. but needs more space. Stanfield said the company has just under 40 employees but hopes to have 120 by early 2022. He projects that annual revenues of $13 million in 2019 will grow to $30 million this year.
The company has proprietary software it uses to create customized financing for businesses with annual revenue of $5 million to $50 million. Compared with bank loans, its financing carries higher interest rates but is delivered faster and with terms structured for each borrower, Stanfield said.
Many companies LQD targets otherwise have to bounce among providers of only a specific loan type, such as those tied to accounts receivable or inventory. “We’ve set ourselves up as a one-stop shop,” Stanfield said, a service that’s unique in the Chicago market.
While many companies have sustained losses due to the virus-related economic shutdown, the pandemic has produced opportunity for LQD. Smaller banks around the country have hired it to manage a burgeoning portfolio of Small Business Administration loans.
“It’s a new sideline. We’re lucky enough to be built for this business,” Stanfield said.
LQD hopes to be in the new space in July, but that depends on any extension of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s order closing offices deemed nonessential. Stanfield said LQD has had little difficulty operating with staff working from home.
“For obvious reasons, the business lending services that LQD provides are now more vital to Chicago’s economy than ever,” Andy Gloor, CEO of Sterling Bay, said in a written statement. “We’re excited to bring their business into the tech-driven environment that Fulton Market is known for and are confident that the relocation will enable sustained growth and continued opportunity for this hometown operation.”