Member Story: Bear Essentials Embroidery
A Transition from Employee to Owner with Support from Adirondack Regional FCU
In her five years working at Bear Essentials, an apparel and embroidery business, Christina Karl had been involved with almost every part of the operation.
Accounting, purchasing, sales, management—she’d done it all. So when its owners were ready to sell, buying Bear Essentials was a logical next step.
And it’s one Karl was able to take with the help of Adirondack Regional FCU, which earlier this year provided her a loan to buy the business.
Karl, a first-time business owner, acknowledges she had a lot to learn during the purchase process. And considering she was buying a business with three locations—one in Saranac Lake and two in Lake Placid—the sale was a little more complicated than most.
One of the most important lessons Christine Karl, owner of Bear Essentials Embroidery says she learned, is that the credit union is more than just a lender. It’s a partner. “Adirondack Regional is willing to work with me—they want me to succeed,” she says.
Karl closed on the purchase in February, which, as any Adirondacker knows, can be a slow time for business. But the staff at the credit union was clear: They’re ready to help her through those ups and downs. “If I needed to pay only interest for a little bit, or if I’m running into tough times, call,” they told her. “There are ways we can work with you, especially during hard seasons, because we do have them up here.”
And when mud season arrived, Karl says, they were true to their word. “Payments weren’t exactly on time, but they got them,” she says. “As long as you communicate, they’re more than willing to help out.”
As a lifelong Adirondacker, she’d always appreciated the personal touch that comes from working with hometown institutions. “I don’t like calling and getting somebody in a call center who-knows-where, and they have to go through three different channels to get account information,” she says. “I want to call up and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’”
Bear Essentials is a local fixture, too. Now in business for 17 years, Karl recognizes what it means to take over an institution that’s part of the community. And while she gets a kick from seeing her company’s T-shirts and designs walking around town, it’s also a lot of pressure. “Big shoes to fill,” she says.
But she’s not going it alone.
"I knew that relationship between banks and business existed,” she says. “I just didn’t know how close it could be.”