Most banks are one-size-fits-all—you need money, they decide whether to lend it to you, end of story. But Live Oak Bank, based in Santa Rosa, Calif., has built a team with the craft beverage industry and its specific needs in mind.

“Live Oak isn’t your traditional bank,” explains Tracy Sheppard, vice president of the wine and craft beverage lending division. “Our team specializes in the craft beverage business. We know how to work one-on-one with beverage business owners so they can get the money they need, reach their goals, and avoid costly mistakes.”

“Often, our best referrals to new businesses are existing or past customers.” — Tracy Sheppard, Live Oak Bank

Most producers approach Live Oak, Sheppard explains, for loans on equipment, real estate, improvements, and general working capital. But instead of just rubber-stamping the approval or denial process, bankers meet with their clients to streamline loans and business plans to best leverage a producer’s inventory and support future sales. Live Oak looks at companies holistically and considers the implications of a loan on equipment for tentative plans in a few years to increase production capacity or launch a new product line.

“Our team only lends in the craft industry, so we’ve created deep relationships in that space,” Sheppard says. “That resonates with owners and, often, our best referrals to new businesses are existing or past customers.

“We would like to extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone who voted for us. Having our customers and peers recognize Live Oak Bank as the best lender in the craft beverage industry is the greatest compliment.”