Shop Profile: CorTrust Bank

January 4, 2018 No Comments
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Building a Future for Die Concepts

by Melissa DeBilzan

toc_features50pxWhen Fred Trapp decided to purchase a building for his growing manufacturing company, the last thing he wanted was a dilapidated structure on the outskirts of town. But the more he looked around, the more he realized the value he could generate for the cost. 

Trapp started Die Concepts nearly 20 years ago out of his laundry room. Eventually, he added a partner, Mike Tracey, and set up shop in a modest garage. A few months later, they decided to rent building space in the northwest suburbs where they remained as tenants for the next 15 years.

In 2016, they ran out of room for additional equipment and people. Trapp began looking at move-in ready properties a little further west in Elk River. One of the first he came across was a blighted structure across the street from a residential neighborhood.

The exterior siding was loose and punctured with holes. The roof sagged over one part of the building and the garage doors didn’t function. Inside, Trapp noticed standing water from a recent storm and exposed electrical lines. Outside, the parking lot was cracked, crumbling, and littered with old pallets and containers. The entire property, he was told, had become an eyesore to the community.

“When I first saw it, I didn’t think it was an option,” Trapp said. “It was so run down.”

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A shabby construct hardly reflected Die Concept’s reputation as a master of precision, progressive dies.
Over the next few weeks, however, Trapp began considering what it would take for a complete overhaul. After meeting with a few banks to discuss conventional financing options, a friend suggested he meet with Barry Sorensen at CorTrust Bank for more personalized advice. The other banks he interviewed seemed to offer canned information and guidance.

“Barry’s approach was different from the very beginning,” Trapp said. “He didn’t start telling me everything I needed to do or all the information I needed to get to him. I was under enough stress at the time. He was willing to take charge of the process so I could concentrate on my day job.”

Knowing Trapp had never owned a building before, let alone renovated one, Sorensen rolled up his sleeves and began researching more than just financing options. With a firm understanding of Trapp’s vision for the building, he identified all the moving parts, requirements, and deadlines – from ground soil testing to sprinkler systems. He also led Trapp through the process of getting quotes from dozens of contractors and professionals.

Even more significant was the research that went into financing the project. Beyond the options available through CorTrust, Sorensen discovered that the city offered a sizeable financial incentive to companies seeking to renovate blighted properties. There were federal loans available, too.

“No one else even looked into these options on our behalf,” Trapp said. “CorTrust was creative. The financing package that was recommended to us saved a significant amount of money, especially up front.”

In exchange for creating 12 full-time positions over the next five years, Die Concepts was able to qualify for a $75,000 forgivable loan through the city of Elk River. The company also qualified for a substantial federal microloan with a 2 percent interest rate. The remainder was secured by a conventional loan through CorTrust Bank, with a favorable interest rate and terms.

Thanks to the financing package developed, Die Concepts was able to put enough money down to start on the project right away.

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The shop continued to lease space while constructing the new building, making operation costs higher than usual. To ease the burden, CorTrust offered the option of making interest-only payments. Traditional financing offered by bigger banks would have required the shop to make double payments.

Over the next year, the building was stripped down to the cement floor and steel frame. The floors were smoothed, the walls were rebuilt, and the tin roof was replaced. New lighting, plumbing and ventilation systems were installed and brought up to code. Outside, the parking lot was resurfaced and new trees and shrubs were planted.

Throughout the process, Sorensen helped ensure the project was on track by communicating regularly with the shop’s accountant, attorney, and other professionals.

In May of 2017, Die Concepts revealed its new space; bright, open, and complete with a large, temperature-controlled Wire EDM room. With nearly double the square footage, the shop has room to grow all three of its departments – engineering, electrical discharge machining, and toolmaking.

“We now have room for quite a bit more equipment and workers,” Trapp said. “And it’s nice being on the edge of the city where we can go outside and see trees and wildlife instead of another building.”

Looking back, Trapp said he was fortunate to have a trusted advisor in CorTrust Bank.

“Barry asked a lot of good questions and did a lot of research on our behalf,” Trapp said. “He dealt with issues directly so that I could focus on running the shop, not this project.” pm_endmarkblue-e1320337140493

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MELISSA DEBILZAN is a writer for Precision Manufacturing Journal. She can be reached at

Copyright © 2018 Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association. For permission to use or reprint this article please contact Nancy Huddleston, publications manager for Precision Manufacturing Journal.


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