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PPP Loan Brings Sweet Relief to Local Bakery

Robbie Coblentz is a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur

PPP Loan Brings Sweet Relief to Local Bakery

Baked goods at Proof BakeryWhen a local bakery opened its doors in early August 2019, the owner never could have imagined what his inaugural year in business would hold.


Robbie Coblentz is a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur. He owns a video production company, a small commercial property management company and co-owns an ad agency.


“I enjoy starting businesses,” Coblentz said. “I’d say I’m an entrepreneur before anything else.”


That’s why his wife of 24 years was not surprised when he came home one day and asked what she thought about starting a bakery. A local bakery owner announced he was closing up shop to return to his first career as a web designer. Coblentz had done video work for him over the years and asked what the bakery owner was going to do with his assets. The owner didn’t have a plan but hoped someone would purchase the business so Starkville would continue to have a local bakery.


Coblentz had always been intrigued by the food industry and his youngest son is a rising culinary talent, finishing as a Top 10 Finalist on Master Chef Junior and a finalist on the first ever episode of Chopped Junior. Coblentz even produced a culinary show – Making a Chef – in which his son learned to make new dishes from various chefs and artisans.


So, he decided to purchase the bakery’s assets, hired an amazing local baker who had appeared on Making a Chef, and opened Proof: A Bakery in a matter of months. Cadence provided the initial financing for the bakery, which enjoyed a very successful fall and winter.


“We thought we were really starting to hit our stride coming into first quarter,” Coblentz said, “then COVID happened.”


Drawing on his digital background, Coblentz was able to pivot quickly to an online ordering system that would allow for contactless carryout and curbside delivery. Still, the bakery lost 35% in sales almost immediately.


“It was a somewhat stressful March and April,” Coblentz acknowledged. “As Congress started to negotiate the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program, it definitely piqued our interest.”


He reached out to Mike Cayson, EVP, Community Banking Market Executive, who kept him informed as the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) took shape and helped him through the application process once the program went live.


“We’re a fairly small business, so our PPP loan was under $50,000,” Coblentz said. “There were some challenges on the front end with the application system for our smaller loan, but Mike stayed in contact every step of the way. He would email at all hours of the day and night to keep us updated. Thanks to Cadence, we got in early and were one of the first in Starkville to receive funding.”


That funding enabled Proof to retain its entire staff: two full-time and four part-time employees. By the end of July, they were starting to see better numbers and were hopeful to get back to a baseline of where they were last fall. From there, they’ll again focus on growth.


“We were fortunate to have a pretty small infrastructure, and we were operating on a shoestring budget as a startup anyway,” Coblentz noted. “Still, that PPP loan was the difference between our bakery staying open and going out of business. There is no way we could have made it and kept all of our employees without Cadence.”


Since early April, Cadence has supported more than 4,000 businesses through the PPP with loans valued at over $1 billion.


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