Answers courtesy of Christopher Doyle
Most contractors can obtain bank lines at attractive rates, but banks typically require blanket liens on assets that become cumbersome to secure additional financing for down the road (bank terms often require “permission” for the company to take on additional debt as a condition).
Factoring is always an option but has such a negative connotation that if the general contractor or supplier discovers a contractor is factoring, they assess the business to be in financial distress.
Billd was founded to solve this problem and removes the challenges contractors face purchasing construction material by partnering with suppliers to offer an integrated payment solution with flexible terms for the contractor. Suppliers get paid how they want, when they want, while providing their customers a financing solution to purchase today, and pay over time.
Christopher Doyle, president and CEO of Billd, provides more insight into why he started his business, the benefits to contractors, and his outlook for 2021 in the following Q&A.
How did you get your start in the construction industry? What inspired your career path?
I started framing residential houses when I was 16 years old. I always joke that it’s a great job because you get to be outside and get a nice tan while lifting a lot of lumber, so you get a great workout, and it pays cash every week. It’s a great high school and summer job. When I graduated, I wasn’t sure what to do next. So, I thought, “What do I know?” Well, I knew construction. So that inspired my next career moves.
What did working in the construction industry teach you about being an entrepreneur? How did Billd come to fruition?
Working in construction taught me that there are a lot of challenges when starting a new business. When you work for a company, it looks so easy sometimes. You might look at the company founders and say hey, I could do that—you’re inspired to be an entrepreneur.
However, you can’t expect to know everything when you’re 24 years old. You have to get some good experience and find the right people to work under who can teach you a lot. I also learned that when you go out on your own, a lot of things will go wrong—but that’s ok. Starting a new business is risky. But seeing others do it gave me the courage to do it, too—especially once I had a plan in place.
Billd came to fruition because I’ve been in construction for 20 years, and it’s a well-known problem that the construction supply chain is dysfunctional and subcontractors feel this problem the most. There are a lot of players that are trying to solve this problem from the top down (property owner to GC), but no one is trying to solve it from the bottom up (supplier and subcontractor)—to actually help the folks who are bearing the brunt of the burden.
That’s where Billd comes in. I spent 20-plus years working with small businesses in the construction space from residential to commercial, renewable energy, and government contracting. This is a space I know extremely well and can relate to their challenges, outside of just cash flow.
What is Billd and what does the company provide for general contractors?
Billd is a new payment solution for both contractors and suppliers in the construction industry. For commercial contractors, Billd offers terms that align with existing construction payment cycles by paying their supplier upfront and extending them 120-day terms. Contractors typically aren’t paid for their work for at least 90 days, resulting in a wide gap from when they need to buy materials to when they’re paid. Material financing offers a pay when paid solution, helping contractors drastically improve cash flow, so they can focus on building and growing their business. For suppliers, Billd pays upfront, reducing their credit risk and allowing them to widen their customer base, as well as sell more to existing customers.
Why can Billd offer products to contractors with fewer other options?
Billd is in a unique position to support construction businesses, who typically have few limited credit options, because of our deep domain expertise in the construction industry and knowing their specific pain points.
Our understanding of construction payment cycles, relationships involved in construction, mechanic’s lien rights, and the intricacies of the construction projects allows us to view these businesses through a much different lens than traditional credit providers.
How Billd is supporting its customers during COVID-19?
During this unprecedented time, many developers and property owners have slowed down new commercial construction starts as well as halted projects that were in-progress.
Billd has been supporting customers during COVID-19 in many ways, primarily through our understanding of construction project delays throughout the country and our flexibility in offering extended terms on material purchases.
Also, many traditional lenders and suppliers have tightened available terms—but we’ve made the choice to go even further to support our customers during this time.
What is your outlook for 2021?
Billd is excited for 2021, even after the turbulent year of 2020. We’re becoming a household name in the construction industry with more and more subcontractors as well as suppliers and general contractors becoming aware of the benefits of material financing. We have some new, innovative products in the works to help our customers solve their cashflow pain points and improve their ability to take on more challenging and more profitable commercial projects.
Billd is 100-percent committed to its customers and solving many of the challenges and pain points around supply chain finance and the dysfunctional payment cycle in the $1.3 trillion construction industry.
About the author:
Christopher Doyle is the president and CEO of Billd (billd.com), a construction finance company that partners with regional and national suppliers across the U.S. to offer project-based financing to contractors. The short-term financing solutions facilitate immediate payment to suppliers while providing contractors the flexibility to pay back material purchases over time.
Modern Contractor Solutions, February 2021
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