In Guaynabo, Puerto Rico Axis Studios, LLC survived Hurricane Maria and the owners are especially fortunate that (1) they had a generator and cell hotspots for some Internet access; and (2) they have a responsive financing partner willing to extend lease payment timing.
We spoke to the audio engineer and co-partner Frey Fernandez who said the metro areas are getting back to normal, but the countryside in Puerto Rico still lacks essential services such as running water. He’s been through major weather events before, but nothing like this.
Fernandez said he feels fortunate because other businesses were shut down for months, whereas his firm suffered power grid outages for four to six weeks.
In December BusinessWeek reported that roughly two-thirds of Puerto Rico’s 45,000 small and midsize businesses had closed temporarily following Maria, and said by one estimate as many as 10,000 weren’t likely to re-open.
The same article reported that the Small Business Administration was offering low-interest loans of up to $2 million to owners affected by
Maria, but of the 3,533 applications received as of Dec. 5, the agency had approved only 50 loans totaling $6.2 million.
A month is a long time for a company that is doing post-production audio and video editing for such brand-name companies as Pepsi, Heineken and T Mobile for time-sensitive commercials to lose Internet connection.
“We were in touch with all of our customers affected ask if they were okay and if they needed/wanted a few months of lower payments while recovering from the storm damage, and Frey responded to our email,” said Nancy Pistorio, Madison Capital’s president.
The independent studio has four employees, established freelancers, and sophisticated media broadcast equipment to conduct their business. Fortunately, nothing inside their studio was damaged by the storm.
Their financing relationship with Madison Capital began in 2016 when Axis Studios needed a new air-conditioning system. Local banks turned them down for a loan. Their experience with Madison was positive, so they returned to Madison in 2016 to lease an expensive Sony HDR monitor, and the engagement was consistent and the business relationship now more established.
Fernandez found Madison Capital in a web search and was impressed that funding followed his initial conversation with Pistorio within just a couple of days. When asked if he would recommend this equipment and transportation financing company, he said “Absolutely! They are
honest, responsive and what they did for us in re-arranging our whole lease to extend the payment time, helped us to get back on our feet.”
He said the banks demanded more of a credit history than he could provide. However, he said he has gained a bank line of credit since then. Fernandez had also approached a government agency for funding, but the paperwork was overwhelming.
Many Axis clients are major advertising firms based in Puerto Rico, but others are stateside. He says he is proud of the fact that his company has maintained a number of its clients since the doors first opened five years ago.
“It’s all about service; there are competitors doing what we do, but we go the extra mile, every time, “he said. In discussion about the firm’s success, he added that Axis doesn’t typically advertise. It uses social media and relies on business referrals.
Among their future goals is to do more documentaries and original television series. Fernandez has been interested in broadcasting since he was young, but now has nearly 30 years of experience. He previously worked at two local studios, Ochoa and Digitec, moving up in his career from his entry position as an assistant. Today he works closely with his partner, Robert Negron, who specializes in video production, and the two are managing this successful small company with big clients and big growth plans.