Michelle Coffino, Owner & CEO, Queen City Metal Recycling and Salvage: Queen City Metal Recycling is a full metal recycling processing scrap yard. We process ferrous and nonferrous material, as well as electronic scrap.
We have people that come in with their recyclables, whether it’s electronic or metal recycling. We pay per the pound, and then we have industrial accounts that we service like Mecklenburg County.
I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I grew up really poor, and I started out as a hairdresser at 15 years old.
I got sick one time, and I had no cash coming in, and I had three kids to feed. That became the driving factor for me to realize you really have to have multiple flows of income.
Why not scrap metal?
I went with an SBA loan, but it was extremely costly. Rates were going up. The interest rate had doubled in a matter of three months.
Coffino: I had been to six banks with my loan. I have an excellent credit score. I have great relationships with a lot of people in the community. Every single bank said no, and I was really fortunate Chris Underwood went to bat for me, believed in me, and most of all, had the true compassion to understand that just because I was a woman didn’t mean couldn’t run a business.
So when we take a car, we pull out the motor block …
The success of my company has really come from the support of Chris Underwood and Wells Fargo.
Chris Underwood, Wells Fargo Commercial Banking: The loan closing was the big piece, but really, since then we’ve continued to help her out just with anything from day-to-day servicing, providing additional lines of credit and credit cards for her cash flow needs for all of her businesses, and we’ve also helped her out with her 501(c)(3).
Coffino: We do a re-entry program to take men and women out of incarceration and give them a skill set, a trade, and an employment opportunity.
Alice Looney, Garage Supervisor, Queen City Metal Recycling & Salvage: She had faith in me to let me run her garage, to run her equipment, and to run a big department like that, it spoke volumes within itself.
You’ve got to press forward. Like she tells me all the time, “You’re a leader.” Continue to be keep your head up and be a leader. Continue to proceed with what life has for you.
Coffino: In 2017 I was awarded the Small Business Person of the Year for my economic impact and employment opportunities for people coming out of incarceration.
Underwood: It’s really just a testament to her as an operator and owner.
As a banker, you not only need to help people out with their finances but to help them be successful in really whatever that endeavor may be, and really work towards a way to get something done that’s really a win-win for the client and the community.