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<March 2015>



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Out-of-the-Box Commercial Lending Solution For Universal Institute’s Growth

By Robert A. Vandenbergh

Screen-Shot-2012-05-29-at-4-28-21-PM.pngThinking outside-the-box was the deal maker for Livingston-based Universal Institute when seeking a bank to help them expand their facilities and services for individuals who have traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. At Universal, the focus is on abilities and resources, rather than disabilities and the status quo. So when they began looking for a new bank, they wanted a partner that shared and appreciated their point of view.

Universal Institute was founded in 1989 by the late Jerry Lasso, and his wife, Lisa after Jerry was paralyzed at age 25 during surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. The two shared a vision of providing rehabilitation programs that were anything but cookie-cutter. Their idea was to offer an individualized program of therapies and activities in an exciting environment.

When it was time to take the business to the next level, Adam Steinberg, Universal Institute’s president and CEO, says loan committees at large banks just couldn’t understand their model. After a friend suggested he contact Lakeland Bank, he assumed his experience would “just be more of the same.” He quickly learned otherwise when Beth Johns, Vice President of Commercial Lending and President and CEO, Thomas Shara went to Universal to learn firsthand what the company was all about.

Recognizing the value and potential of the business, we worked closely as a partner to help Universal with innovative lending structured to help the business expand. Financial solutions were provided for the Institute’s 20,000-square-foot flagship rehab services facility in Livingston, and the acquisition of a similar company in Michigan as well as the purchase of two additional homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Read the full story to see why Lisa Lasso, Universal Institute’s vice president and CFO, says Lakeland Bank’s service has been invaluable. And if you need a banking partner for your business financial needs, we’re here to help. Visit lakelandbank.com, call 866-224-1379 or stop by any of our office locations.

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