“Everything is 100% on me. I don’t have partners I can draw from or investors, so to have a line of credit from American Express® Business Line of Credit is really helpful.”
Chandra Franklin Womack
*Real American Express® Business Line of Credit customer who was aware that her testimonial may be featured by American Express.
American Express® Business Line of Credit Helps Gulf Coast Business Capitalize on Unexpected Opportunity
For Chandra Franklin Womack, Owner and CEO of Aran+Franklin Engineering Inc. (A+F), preparing for the unexpected is the name of the game. That’s because her Texas-based firm specializes in the design and engineering of buildings to withstand unusually destructive wind and weather, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and the like.
But Chandra isn’t your usual engineer, either. “I don’t fit the normal engineer mold. I’m a woman in a male-dominated industry.” And as the firm’s sole owner, she feels closely connected to her employees, too. “I believe it’s my responsibility to be financially responsible and make sure things run as smoothly as possible because my employees don’t need those worries.”
The nature of A+F’s work is one of ups and downs, however.
“I know my business’s cashflow cycles. Some months are fantastic where we have plenty of income and lots of work and then some months, it’s like ‘where’d all the work go?’”
Along with an unpredictable workflow, an uneven cashflow is part and parcel of her project- based business.
“We usually get a deposit at the beginning of design engineering and then we get the remainder at the end when we build it. But if we get stuck in some part of the engineering— whether it’s on our end or we’re waiting on something from the client—we’re just stuck. We know the money is there and that it’s coming…but we can’t collect.”
Historically, when cash flow was problematic, Chandra had to draw from her own funds or let valued employees go, as was the case after Hurricane Harvey wiped out a segment of her business. “It was heartbreaking,” she recalls.
Extra Funds, Just in Case
A+F was already an active American Express® Business Card customer since 2018, so when Chandra’s American Express account rep told her about American Express® Business Line of Credit, she thought, “…it could be a good back-up for those times I need something in my back pocket, if something were to happen, to make sure I can cover all the bills.”
American Express® Business Line of Credit responded quickly. “I was approved the same day; it was not a lot of time” Chandra says.
But then the unexpected happened. With funds drawn from Chandra’s American Express Business Line of Credit, she was able to acquire a smaller engineering firm in Florida.
After that acquisition, Chandra says it was a “fantastic decision” and A+F has gained 189 new projects.
“Had someone approached me and I didn’t have that capital available, I would have been like, ‘Well, I have to pass because I can’t afford it,’ but with a line of credit from American Express® Business Line of Credit it was possible.”
The best part, Chandra was able to use the available funds from her American Express Business Line of Credit to cover other simultaneous needs. “I also used it to pad our cash flow to cover payroll and things like that. American Express® Business Line of Credit really helped us cover our cashflow cycles of ups and downs.”
What does the future hold for A+F? “I definitely plan to keep my American Express® Business Line of Credit open because it’s really, really beneficial when my only other resources to draw from are my personal assets…there are just too many circumstances that you can’t predict.”
“Indeed, A+F seems to be on a roll — they have since begun to consider opening a completely new civil engineering division.” Says Chandra, “We’re going to blow it out of the water, so watch out!”
Year established: 1998
Location: Texas and Florida
Number of Offices: 5
Number of employees: 40
Number of projects: Approximately 4,000
Annual revenue: $3.2 million
American Express Member Since: 2018