Thanks to Fresno CDFI for this story!
Al and Christy Kroell had been serving in the military 20 years when Al had an accident that ended his career. He needed over 52 surgeries in subsequent years to rehabilitate himself. Several years after Al’s accident, Christy sustained a near fatal car crash that left her disabled as well and had no choice but to leave her job at the Navy Credit Union.
In 2004, Al and Christy were no longer affiliated with the military base in Southern California so they decided to move to Squaw Valley. The couple endured years of trying times as Al continued to have multiple corrective surgeries to reach rehabilitation. They hoped that one day, the hard times would end and they would start a new business together.
Over the years, Al always enjoyed making wood engravings as keepsakes for his friends. With his lifelong passion, Al decided to start a business. He sought help at the local Small Business Administration SCORE Chapter. This group of volunteer business experts guided him as he completed his business plan. When he started to look at his financing options, the reality of capitalizing a startup business dawned on him. A laser engraver is an expensive tool and banks typically want to see 2 to 3 years’ experience before lending to a business. After months of planning and preparation, Al and Christy applied and received a $95,000 equipment loan from Fresno CDFI. Thanks to this loan, they were able to purchase the engraver they needed to open their doors and ChristyAl Plaques & Engraving was born!
Starting a new company takes hard work and dedication. There are always ups and downs, but the Kroells maintained a positive outlook through it all! They are doing what they love and hope to grow in the future. Al and Christy received the 2013 Sargent Shriver Veterans Serving America Achievement Award from the National Community Action Partnership.
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