When Tim Maczka co-founded Team Financial Group in 2001 with partner Joe Smaby, they went through common growing pains many small businesses endure in their early years—along with a few additional responsibilities that might have been more unique, such as babysitting and mowing lawns.
But over the course of the past 20 years, Team Financial Group has provided more than $600 million in funds with the goal of helping customers grow their businesses. Team Financial Group’s mission has remained the same since Day 1: delivering efficient, flexible financing while applying common-sense lending principles.
Here, we catch up with Tim, who tells us a little more about himself, the early days of Team Financial Group, and what the future holds for the company under CEO, President, and son Matt Maczka.
Tim Maczka has more than 40 years of financial services experience and holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Central Michigan University. As the co-founder and chairman of Team Financial Group, Tim works closely with all aspects of the business, including funding, underwriting, and portfolio risk management.
What can you tell us about your background before you co-founded Team Financial Group?
I was a commercial lender, along with many other hats I wore, at Old Kent Bank during my 26-year career there. When Fifth Third Bank bought Old Kent and I left, I was excited to start Team Financial Group, even though the thought was nerve-wracking at the time because I had three kids in college. But I had a 52-week severance package and convinced my wife that I would know in a year how we were doing, and I would get another job if necessary. Twenty years later, here we are.
Tell us how the founding of Team Financial Group came to be?
There were five of us that started out, and Joe Smaby was my partner. He had worked at Old Kent Bank for 13 years, mostly in sales. I was the underwriter and funder, Joe was the sales guy, and away we went.
We didn’t have anywhere to go yet, so we started in Joe’s basement in May 2001. We quickly knew we had to get out of there, because his wife started using us as a babysitter. Those first few months, we traded Saturdays for who would mow the lawn. We wore every hat and tried to save as much as we could. Some good memories there.
What were the early days like at Team Financial Group?
We were calling on all sorts of vendors and partnering with them to offer equipment financing. We had some really good calls early in our startup days. With one company, Michigan Office Solutions—at that time they were called Commercial Equipment Company—we worked out a program for us to do all of their municipal financing, which was a huge opportunity and boost in the early stages of the company.
What was it like having your son, Matt, rejoin Team Financial Group?
I was 48 years old when we started the company, and one of the first things I wrote on a notebook I kept on my desk was “succession.” Matt was working as a civil engineer in Indianapolis, and I kind of wrote him off as a possibility. But after nine years working in the construction industry, Matt told me he was getting a master’s degree in finance. I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s interesting.” When he was done with school and said he was interested in coming to work with us at Team Financial Group, I remember thinking, “Yes, my prayers have been answered.” It’s been a blessing for all of us. Matt fit right in, came in with an eagerness to learn and a humbleness that made it really nice.
How have you seen Team Financial Group change in the past few years?
System-wise, Matt brought in a lot of operational expertise. We went through a complete conversion of all our systems. I remember at the time Matt joined us, I think we had about $50 million in assets, and he wrote on a whiteboard right away, “What does $100 million look like?” Joe and I got a little nervous about that, but it was good. We always had a lot of hustle, but Matt brought an aggressiveness that we didn’t always have.
What are you most proud of regarding Team Financial Group?
That we’ve been here for 20 years. The failure rate of small businesses is fairly high, so the fact that we’ve built a business that is stable and growing and well capitalized is a compliment to all of us and our customers. We’re pretty proud of that.
When you put the numbers to it, over $500 million in capital to small businesses, not just in West Michigan, but all of Michigan, is pretty exciting. On the employee side, we have employees that started right out of school. (Accounting Manager) Tanya Schulz been with us for 19 years. If you look at the longevity of our employees, it’s pretty exciting too.
What does the future hold for Team Financial Group?
I think we’re just getting started. The management team keeps getting better. I think there’s an old saying that goes, “The first generation starts a business, the second generation grows it.” Matt is definitely poised to take us to the next level, no question about it.
What do you like to do away from office?
My wife and I like to bicycle, golf, and we love our nine grandkids. Our world kind of revolves around that. We’ve been going on these bike tour trips, starting about 10-15 years ago, and we go to great places. We’re going to Yellowstone National Park on a bicycle trip next year. We like outdoor activities. We live on a lake, and that’s a magnet for our grandkids, so we like that. Our church is a big part of our life, too.
For us, it’s all about our customers and employees. We feel strongly about our accomplishments. That’s really the bottom line. Take care of customers and they’ll take care of you.
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