Recently we had the pleasure of speaking with and learning about OnDeck customers, Emilie and Rory Golden, owners of EF5 Tornado Shelters.
Emilie and Rory Golden were your average corporate employees until five years ago when they recognized a business opportunity, took a leap of faith, quit their jobs, and founded EF5 Tornado Shelters. Since then, they’ve won the Reader’s Choice Award and Best Storm Shelter Company Award in Oklahoma.
The Goldens live in the heart of tornado alley, in Edmond, Oklahoma. Their daughter Emma, now 13, had terrible anxiety about tornados. Tornados, for those of you who were wondering, are extremely dangerous and terrifying to experience—real harm can happen. The Goldens wanted to ease their daughter’s worries and hired someone to build a shelter.
Going through the construction process, they were thoroughly disappointed with the sloppy work, outdated shelter, and poor customer service. After talking it over, Emilie and Rory knew they could do better. With Rory’s construction background and Emilie’s experience as a market manager for a financial institution, they felt ready to go out on their own and be their own boss. More importantly, they were confident they would be as good a team in business as they were in marriage. Check out how they did it in the video below.
The Goldens set out to create a company that placed a lot of value on customer service, quality, and the ability to answer customer’s questions who didn’t know as much about construction as they did. The installation and construction are super important to them—their primary goal is to save someone’s life in the event of a tornado and they take that responsibility very seriously. The Goldens care deeply about keeping people safe, “it’s not just about selling the actual shelter.”
EF5 Tornado Shelter’s mission is simple:
“We want every family to have the best possible chance of surviving when severe weather strikes by taking cover in the best built and securely installed storm shelters in Tornado Alley.”
When the business required financing, the Goldens went to a few different lenders. They wanted to work with a lender that “showed interest in the uniqueness of our business, really listened to where our business was today, and our future plans.” Some lenders were pushing the highest term loan amount they qualified for, even though it was more than they needed, nor did they feel comfortable committing to repay a six-figure loan.
The Goldens became OnDeck customers because, in addition to caring about their unique business, we could meet their need for financing with a combination of a term loan and a business line of credit. This gave their business the immediate capital they needed now along with the ability to access funds in the future, as their business grew.
“As a small business owner, you want someone who does the same thing you do—focus on the customer, ask smart questions, and find out if this is a right fit.” This level of customer care is the type of service EF5 provides for their clients.
Since their financing , EF5 is moving into a bigger showroom and retail space in the spring. Because shelters are very expensive to build, they were also able to put the displays out on the floor. Now, they can give the customers an opportunity to see what they offer both with the new showroom and the models they’ve built. And they expanded the product line to include other types of shelters.
Emilie and Rory Golden are proud their business helps people reduce anxiety about tornados. Their daughter has much less anxiety about the tornados, and they’ve even assigned their daughter her own job when a tornado hits; she gets the flashlight and feels much more in control about tornados because of this shelter.