“We had been struggling with other banks we had worked with to get a larger line of credit,” said Clifton Phelps, JCP Construction vice president of business development. Clifton is one-third of the ownership of JCP Construction of Milwaukee. His business partners are also his brothers, James and Jalin.
Established in 2008, JCP Construction grew slowly over the years, first as a multi-family home renovation company, evolving into commercial and large residential construction. While the growth was steady, the company knew they needed capital to be able to bid on larger projects.
“It was told to us as someone that I respect as a peer, but he said, ‘we’re a new company, and being of color are not things going in our favor for having a line of credit extended to us,’ ” said James Phelps, JCP Construction president. “Construction is a low-margin industry with a lot of risks.”
Those things held JCP Construction back from growing beyond small- to mid-size projects. “It’s the difference between being able to have real growth versus incremental growth,” said James Phelps.
Peoples State Bank’s Jose Pimienta, Jr., a commercial banking officer in our West Allis location, knew James from working with him previously. He introduced James to Peoples State Bank’s Southeastern Market President Jeff Musa. They discussed a larger line of credit while attending a basketball game. A couple of weeks later, James went on vacation. His brothers were shocked to get a call about finalizing the loan while James was still out of the office.
“Once we got the phone call from Peoples, we realized this is about to happen,” said Clifton Phelps. “One of the things that companies of color struggle with is access to capital. Jeff Musa actually broke down that barrier.”
“JCP Construction started with just the three of us,” said Jalin Phelps, JCP Construction vice president of field operations. “Now, with our growth, at any time we’ll have 30 people in the field, and another 12 in the office.”
While the initial line of credit was important to JCP’s growth, the relationship they built with Peoples has grown beyond that loan. “Looking at our growth plan, Peoples has helped us with other products and advice,” said Jalin Phelps.
“They’re relationship-driven people who buy into your dream,” said James Phelps.