Russ: Hi, I’m Russ Capper and welcome to another episode of Green Bank Business Builders. I’m here today with Joe Oller, the founder of RFFC. Joe, welcome to the show.
Joe: Thank you, Russ. I appreciate it very much.
Russ: You bet. Alright, tell us about RFFC.
Joe: RFFC is a direct sales finance company. What it does, we finance all over the United States.
Russ: So, you probably didn’t plan to get in the finance business back in the beginning. Tell me about your career before, right before you started this thing.
Joe: Russ, what I did before I started was I was in the oil field. When I started in the oil field I was doing really good, but my best friend called me up one day and he said, ‘Joe, I gotta show you something.’ I said, ‘What do you got?’ He said, ‘You’re not going to believe this.’ So, he came over to my house and he sat down and showed me a program on fire safety and showed me fire alarms. My family had been through four homes that burned to the ground, so it really interested me.
Russ: This is at the beginning of fire alarms for the home.
Joe: Yeah. And so, what happened was I started part time. Three months later I went full time. What’s so funny about it, was when I went full time, my first year I looked down and I’d made $9,800 the year before, in the oil field. My first year with this company I made $40,000 and it scared me to death, because I thought it was illegal, you know, that much money. It scared me. But it was just because I worked so hard I didn’t think about the money.
Russ: Ok, so how do you go from there to the finance business?
Joe: It’s kind of funny. What happened was, I had financed so much through different offices because I ended up having offices over six states.
Russ: You’re saying you finance it yourself?
Joe: I carried a bunch of paper myself.
Russ: Did you do that from day one when you were selling?
Joe: No. It was probably 10-15 years later I started carrying my own paper.
Russ: You decided you needed to do that, that helped you get more sales?
Joe: That’s exactly what it was.
Russ: And it did.
Joe: It did. It helped me get more sales and it helped me get more referrals from people, too. What happened was it all started from that.
Russ: Ok, I mean if you’re doing that it probably really worked well for a while, but at some point, you are carrying the whole county or the whole state and you run out of capital, right?
Joe: Fast. You run out of it fast. And so, I started seeking capital elsewhere and I thought, I just need to open up my own company.
Russ: Ok, so how did you even know what to do to go find somebody that would finance it? I mean, it sounds like it-
Joe: Russ, I didn’t know what to do, that’s the bad part. So, what happened was, I knew I was not very good at computers at all, but I was a good worker. So, what happened was I started, I was over six states and I decided to quit traveling and open up an office just right here in Conroe. So, I found an office, and what ended up happening was the guy that owned the office, he and I were talking, and I said I want to rent the office, and he said ok, so I rented the office from him. He said, ‘What do you do?’ and so I told him what I did. He said, ‘You know that sounds interesting. Why don’t you and I start a business?’ And I had known him for nothing, you know? I said, ‘Well, we’ll talk about it.’ And he said, ‘No, let’s do it.’ I said, ‘I gotta have somebody that’s a computer person.’ He said, ‘I am.’
Russ: And he’s your partner today?
Joe: And he’s my partner today.
Russ: Well, so did he bring capital to the table, too? Or did the two of you together look more substantial and you could go get, go to the bank, or wherever, to keep growing?
Joe: What we did is we got friends and relatives to put money with us. And then we started getting big enough, bigger and bigger, until we had to go to banks. My job was to go raise capital and get more business. And so, I went out and started calling on banks, and it was not real successful because every one of them they wanted this, ‘Oh no, you’re a non-traditional lender and we need traditional lending.’ And I thought, what is traditional lending, you know? And then one of the bankers told me, he said, ‘It’s real estate.’ And right after that the real estate market went wham! and our business went way up. So, we were really excited about that. So, I’m proud we’re a non-traditional company.
Russ: To get non-traditional lending, is that considered inferior by most people that lend?
Joe: Yes, it is.
Russ: Ok, alright.
Joe: We were able to meet Green Bank, and Green Bank has been a godsend to us. They have really helped us tremendously. In fact, we’ve become very good partners and it’s really helped us grow our company to bigger than most people can think.
Russ: What did they do that was different than everybody else?
Joe: They came in and sat down and talked to us eyeball to eyeball and just sat down and visited with us and let us show them our plans, our goals, for five years. They saw our goals and they liked them.
Russ: Well, I kind of get this feeling that you kind of like what you’re doing, too. Is that right?
Joe: I really love what I do. I love it.
Russ: Well, Joe, I really appreciate you sharing your story with us.
Joe: Russ, I appreciate it very much. Thank you.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps up my discussion with Joe Oller, the founder of RFFC. And that wraps up this episode of Green Bank Business Builders.
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