To this day my 86 year old Uncle, Gene Kazan continues to run a multi-million dollar multifaceted manufacturing business.
But in the early 1960's, his business was just six months old when his bank called in its $17,000 loan, demanding that it be paid off immediately.
Like most startup businesses today, my Uncle Gene's business didn't have the money to pay-off the loan and it appeared he would go broke.
In desperation, he tried to raise money but he was turned away everywhere he went.
Aaron Solomon photo, January of 2014: Gene Kazan
He went to one customer that owned him $15,000 and asked for payment. But that customer offered him just $10,000 as payment in full. "You're desperate for money," he was told. "Take it or leave it."
Uncle Gene's last hope was a Mr. Spendlow, an official of United California Bank, located right across the street from his manufacturing business.
After listening to Uncle Gene, Mr. Spendlow asked questions about how well his new business was doing and about his many years of experience in that field.
At the end of the meeting there was a stunning response. Mr. Spendlow said, "I'll loan you $50,000."
In the early 1960's, $50,000 was lot of money, and today it would be worth about $500,000.
Uncle Gene was deeply grateful. He paid off the other bank, and used the rest of the money to expand his business into the success it would subsequently become.
Many years later, he asked Mr. Spendlow, "Why did you risk $50,000 on a new and unproven business?"
"I was a bachelor," Mr. Spendlow replied. "I had no other life outside the bank and I worked very long hours. Well into each night, I saw you still there running a busy manufacturing operation and loading trucks.
"I knew of your success in working for others and I saw your commitment to the business. I thought you could become very successful. I had the authority to approve loans up to $50,000 and that is what I approved for you."
That loan paid dividends many times over for Mr. Spendlow as the manufacturing business grew and my Uncle Gene needed bigger lines of credit from United California Bank.
Uncle Gene's business ultimately employed many people and provided products for numerous companies across the U.S. and elsewhere.
But this success never could have happened without the foresight and courage of a banker who witnessed a desperate young man determined to accomplish his dream.