LaFrances Lead Investors Through Wisconsin's Greenwood's State Bank

by George Waldon  on Monday, May. 12, 2014 12:00 am  

“We’ve shown we have an ability to integrate and fix an organization that may have issues,” McDonald said. “We’ve done a pretty good job of that.”

“We were real lucky to get him,” LaFrance said of McDonald. “Our group got behind him and supported him.”

Greenwoods Pharmacy Financial LLC was envisioned to provide specialized banking services for independent pharmacy owners across the nation.

Dan Strause, who owned the Hometown Pharmacy chain of a dozen stores, was a leader in the GPF effort and remains a sizable investor with a 9.3 percent stake in Greenwoods Financial Group.

“We felt like there was a niche there,” LaFrance said of GPF. “We couldn’t get it off the ground, and we wound up with owners all over the country.”

While GPF floundered amid changes in Small Business Administration lending, Live Oak Bank of Wilmington, N.C., cropped up in 2008 as an independent funding source for pharmacies and other niche borrowers.

The $475 million-asset lender filed an $86.2 million IPO for Live Oak Bancshares Inc. last month after recording a $19.4 million profit during 2013.

Conventional banking suits LaFrance just fine.

“What’s started as a problem is a lot more fun,” he said.

The LaFrance family held a combined 8.15 percent stake in Delta Trust Banking Corp. of Little Rock, which is in the process of selling to Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff.

The transaction is valued at $66 million, making the LaFrance family’s Delta Trust holdings worth about $5.4 million.



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