Tommy Padilla does not have a lot of time on his hands. He works full time for the state Livestock Board and owns a 2,000-acre cattle ranch near Quemado (population 781). But he saw an opportunity to provide a needed service to the traveling public.
Quemado is on Route 60 in rural western New Mexico. For decades, the community supported five gas stations and four restaurants, serving travelers heading to and from Arizona and California. But after east-west Interstates 10 and 40 were built in the 1960s, Quemado experienced a slow decline.
In recent years, however, Tommy noticed that people were avoiding the interstates “due to the heavy volume of truck traffic and high speeds. Our traffic counts now are the same or a little more than when I-40 was built.” He calculated that the growth in traffic meant a greater demand for motorist services. The nearest gas station with a convenience store is 30 miles away.
With $150,000 of his own money, Tommy bought, cleared and cleaned an abandoned property with an existing building, hooked up power, water and sewer lines, laid down a cement pad for a parking lot, and installed an ATM machine. But he needed to make a substantial additional investment to purchase gas pumps and create a well-stocked, spacious and attractive 3,000 sq-ft. convenience store. That’s when The Loan Fund became involved.
We awarded Tommy a $350,000 SBA 504 loan, which is specifically designed to help a business purchase buildings and equipment. It was one of the first (and very successful) 504 loans we made. Now employing five people, Quemado Rito grossed $1.8 million in its first 18 months of operation and serves an average of 250-450 people each day. The ATM machine alone receives 400-600 “hits” each month.
Tommy feels he’s made a positive impact. “People are feeling better about Quemado. But I didn’t do it all by myself.” He credits his family and The Loan Fund: “They take on riskier loans, including start-ups.”