Sanders & Sons - Buffalo, NY

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 / Published in Featured News, Success Stories
Sanders & Sons - Buffalo, NY

The future was looking bleak for Joseph A. Sanders & Sons in 2013. Construction began plummeting in Buffalo three years earlier, and the third-generation roofer had mounted $1 million in losses during that time. Operations were being funded by a combination of business cash, bank borrowing, retirement funds and shareholder loans, and the bank had moved the business to a high-risk category, a classification that typically signals impending bankruptcy. Wendy Sanders, company president, cut overhead costs by $250,000 and the company began a slow recovery. Then their bonding agent dropped coverage.

“If you don’t have bonding, you don’t have business,” says Sanders, who manages office, bookkeeping and marketing for her family’s commercial roofing company, a certified Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) since 2012. Sanders found someone to write the bonds, but the rate was exorbitant.

Joseph A. Sanders & Sons was on the verge of going out of business—and leaving 40 employees out of work—and so Sanders aggressively pursued a new lending partner. Her search led her to NYBDC and the Bridge to Success loan program.

Bridge to Success, started in 2014, makes at least $20 million available to qualified Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) for short-term bridge loans to execute on state contracts. State contract payment cycles generally extend beyond 60 days, and the delay in payment poses a significant barrier to MWBEs. These revolving loans provide them with the bridge capital they need to hire staff, buy materials, or purchase equipment.

The $200,000 line of credit gave Joseph A. Sanders & Sons the interim funding it needed to cover payroll, materials and other operating expenses while it performed a large roofing project for a public school in Buffalo. The firm also planned to access the revolving loan for a roofing project through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.

“If NYBDC had not funded us, I’m pretty sure we’d be sitting in a much different position,” Sanders says. With funding available to cover operating costs for public projects, Sanders’ husband, Stephen, was securing more contracts. In 2014, the first year the company had access to the revolving loan program, Joseph A. Sanders & Sons turned the largest profit in its 95-year history.

Steve Willard, senior vice president, NYBDC, says access to Bridge to Success allowed the Buffalo roofing company to perform on state contracts and return to profitability. Just as importantly, Joseph A. Sanders & Sons is re-establishing trust and credibility with their longtime lending partner, M&T Bank.

“Now that the borrowers are back in the black, it is anticipated that the line of credit funded by NYBDC under the Bridge to Success loan program will be replaced by conventional bank financing,” Willard says.

Sanders credits the company’s turnaround with a three-pronged approach that included the Bridge to Success program, the $250,00 savings in overhead costs, and a vendor that was willing to term-out $100,000 in receivables into a three-year interest-free note. The company paid off the note in six months.

“I cannot say enough about this program,” Sanders says. She now works alongside NYBDC to promote the Bridge to Success program in western New York State.



Through the cooperative efforts of its lending partners, New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC) promotes and advances the business prosperity and economic welfare of New York State by providing small business loans. Throughout its 60-year history, NYBDC has provided thousands of small businesses, including start-ups, mature businesses, and minority- and women-owned businesses, with access to loans when they do not meet the requirements for traditional financing. Learn more at

Together with affiliates Excelsior Growth Fund ( and The 504 Company (, NYBDC offers small businesses access to suite of financing options that includes SBA 504, 7a and Community Advantage loans, as well as online alternative loans.