SANBORN, NY – The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for many businesses. Niagara County-based Original Pizza Logs was one of them.
“Things got out of hand pretty quickly once the pandemic started,” owner Jason Cordova said. “We had no orders for about six weeks, and when the phone started ringing again, people called to cancel the orders.”
Cordova said that a significant part of the company’s business is distributing its products to restaurants and as an official supplier to arenas and stadiums.
“Once the restaurants and stadiums closed, Original Pizza Logs did that for a while,” he said.
Cordova employs around 50 people. He said that even though business was slowing down, he was able to keep them all at work in part because he launched a new product and focused on retail.
The other saving benefit, Cordova said, was that a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program eventually became a grant.
“The PPP was a lifeline for our business and many other businesses in western New York, and across the country for that matter,” he said.
Original Pizza Logs is one of nearly 60,000 companies Buffalo-based M&T Bank claims to have helped secure approximately $ 10 billion in PPP loans in its eight states as one of the largest lenders in the Small Business Association of the country. This includes more than 9,200 companies that employ approximately 11,000 people in western New York City alone.
The average loan amount was $ 165,000.
“Sixty-six percent of the loans were made to businesses with 10 or fewer employees, and 92% were businesses that employed 50 or fewer people, so we really tried to focus on small businesses,” said Christina Berozyna. , Senior Vice President and Director of Sales of M&T. and business banking, said.
The bank said it was helping businesses navigate regulations, with the vast majority of loans being canceled entirely. Berozyna said the money was not being used just to keep people working, but for things like keeping the lights on and even growing businesses.
“It’s had a big impact on the small businesses, and they’ve been able to leverage the funding to grow the business, reinvest in the business and retain the employees, and it’s really exciting,” she said. .
In fact, Cordova said that once his company got the loan, he was able to invest some of that money in hiring five new employees at a time when other companies were taking time off or laid off people.
“Basically two and a half months was free work for us,” he said. “That was, I think, the whole point of PPP. Using it with employees, to retain the people you had. But if the opportunity arose, you can grow. And that’s what we do. chose to do it, and I think we were rewarded for it. “
Now, hopefully through the worst, Original Pizza Logs is looking to the future, preparing to launch a new product, the Original Buffalo-Style Chicken Logs, and Cordova said she was very excited at the idea to continue to develop.