Cindy and Tom Hyland were casting about last year for a business to run together as they lived out the second act of their lives in the White Mountains. Tom had worked at Loon Mountain for 30 years and Cindy worked in health care for 20 years. “We figured if we were going to work this hard, we were going to do it for ourselves,” Cindy explains.
When fate put the couple in touch with a long-time business owner in the region who was interested in selling his Great American Ski Renting Company on Main Street in Lincoln, they took the plunge. They decided in about June of 2014 that the popular business would become theirs. Then they set about finding the financing they would need.
“It turns out we didn’t know what we didn’t know,” Cindy says. It was Bob Walker at the Grafton County Development Center who put them in touch with Sally Holder, the NH SBDC business advisor who works out of the Belknap and Grafton Counties office.
“We began working on our business plan with Sally and she has just evolved into a permanent staple with us on this journey,” Cindy says. In fact, the business relationship that began in fall 2014 inspired Sally to attend the couple’s wedding this March.
Cindy explains that Sally showed them the finer points of Excel to build the plan, and “she gave us really great ideas and sheets and sheets of paper with the notes from our meetings together,” Cindy said. I’d go home and peck away on the laptop and after about a month, we had our plan.”
“Sally just did everything for us; she could turn over every stone to get us to think about things—things like making sure we were paying ourselves an annual salary for life,” Cindy said.
Local banks were not interested in commercial lending at the time, Cindy says, but they ultimately succeeded in obtaining an SBA-guaranteed loan from the Service Credit Union. In addition to the cost of buying the business, the couple needed to purchase $50,000 worth of new ski equipment to be ready for the rental season.
The loan made all that possible and now, just after a very successful season of ski renting—in part due to the cooperation of Mother Nature in providing a snowy winter—Tom and Cindy are solidifying plans for their business in the warmer months. The previous owner kept the business open only during ski season.
Sally is with them at this part of the planning as well. They’ll collaborate with the popular Pemi Valley Moose Tours right next door, and they’ll probably concentrate on selling all the things the many tourists forget when they come on vacation.
Tom agrees. “She helps us keep on top of the financial statements and the costs of goods sold,” he said. “She’s keeping us on point, reminding us of things. I think she sincerely takes an interest in what she does and doesn’t treat it like a job.”
Cindy continues, “She’s upbeat and excited for us, yet very honest and realistic,” Cindy says. “She’s our cheerleader and now we are hers. We couldn’t say enough good things about the experience.”