Stimulus Phase 4 – After surviving 4 floods, a fire, and a hurricane Congress needs to talk to this small family business about what is needed in the next package

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Bobby and Janice Jucker, co-owners of Three Brothers Bakery in Houston, TX, call themselves the King and Queen of Disasters. While they are thrilled with the C.A.R.E.S. Act, there is more needed. They want to see 6 additional pieces added in Stimulus Bill #4 and offer a warning of what is to come as small businesses try to recover.

View of Three Brothers Bakery surrounded by water during Hurricane Harvey

The owners of Three Brothers Bakery are experts at small business disaster recovery proven by reopening after 4 floods, a fire and a hurricane.

“Disaster areas are financially devastated and require revenue from outside their area, but the problem with this disaster is that the entire world is a disaster zone,” said Janice Jucker, co-owner Three Brothers Bakery

The Juckers say it is official that they are the King and Queen of Disasters, having won national recognition from the Small Business Administration (SBA) with the Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery in 2018 - earned because of coming back from Hurricane Harvey. “It is an award for which you never want to qualify,” said Janice Jucker. But after going through so many disasters as a small business, the Juckers know what needs to be included in the next stimulus bill.

  •     6 Months of Debt Forgiveness for Previous SBA Disaster Loans
  •     Provide Monies for the Required 2 Weeks of Sick Pay and FMLA Paid Time Off
  •     Let Businesses Use both the PPP and the Employee Tax Retention Credit but not at the same time
  •     Expand the time period of use for the PPP loan from 8 weeks to 12 or even 16 weeks
  •     Use previous period employee counts vs year over year when determining proper use to qualify for PPP loan forgiveness
  •     Lower the interest rate for the EIDL loan

And they also warn insurance premiums could be dropped when monies are tight.

6 Months of Debt Forgiveness for Previous SBA Disaster Loans

In the C.A.R.E.S. Act debt forgiveness was given to businesses owing on SBA 504 and 7a loans. The federal government is paying all principal and interest payments for 6 months. “While we are happy for the small businesses that are getting the extra grant, we feel the same should be given to the businesses still struggling to recover from previous disasters. Those businesses took the 504 and 7a loans for growth; while we took our disaster loans to survive. So why wouldn’t the government also help previous disaster burdened businesses?” said Janice Jucker.

Provide Monies for the Required 2 Weeks of Sick Pay and FMLA Paid Time Off

While, conceptually, the small business is reimbursed through tax credits for mandated time off, many small businesses with less than 100 employees will not have the money. The law also states if you get the PPP loan, you cannot apply for the tax credit, so the Juckers are wondering where will the money come from outside of the 8 week period? The law also mandates that only businesses where revenues dipped 50% or more can use the credit , and the Juckers ask why? A 20% reduction can also cause big losses. Additionally, if people are required to stay home and be paid, the small business most likely will have to pay people overtime to backfill the jobs of the absent employee. The overtime is another added burden which needs to be considered and the Juckers suggest amending the law so businesses could apply for a tax credit for the overtime dollars spent.

“The government can legislate all they want, but if the cash is not in the bank, the people cannot be paid,” said Janice Jucker.

Let Businesses Use both the PPP and the Employee Tax Retention Credit but Not at the Same Time

The PPP loan can be used for 8 weeks of payroll, rent/mortgage interest and utilities. Many businesses are already having to pay the two weeks of paid time off and FMLA, but because they are looking at loan forgiveness through the PPP loan, they are not eligible for the Employee Retention Tax Credit. The Juckers suggest the law could be amended to allow for both, just not at the same time.

Expand the time period of use for the PPP loan from 8 weeks to 12 or 16 weeks

The Juckers always experience a slow rise of revenue after a small business disaster. They explained it takes them about 18 months to see any real difference. Full recovery can take 3, 5, or 8 years. “Disaster areas are financially devastated and require revenue from outside their area, but the problem with this disaster is that the entire world is a disaster zone,” said Jucker.

Use previous period employee counts vs year over year when determining proper use of PPP loans

For PPP loan forgiveness there are thresholds to meet, which includes year over year employment. The Juckers think the previous period would be more relevant. You could have hired seasonal help in 2019 to get you through Easter, Passover and Mother's Day and those people moved on after the season.

Jucker feels eight months will not be enough to save small margin businesses, ie., restaurants, bars, retail, and analyzing them for loan forgiveness after eight weeks, when many may still not be open, would be counterproductive.

Lower the interest rate for the EIDL loan

The EIDL loan rate is too high based on the Fed rate. Jucker stated,” When we took out our Harvey loan the interest rate we received was 3.305% and the Fed rate was 1.25%. Now the Fed rate is less than .25%, so shouldn't the EIDL rate be 2.305%?”

One more problem to be considered – insurance

Small businesses try to cut big expenses when times are tough. Insurance is usually a big line item and falls victim to the cuts. “On March 13, 2020, we had to pay our flood insurance in one lump sum. It was $25,000,” said Jucker. Choosing to cut insurance is a problem coming down the pipe. ‘We’re getting ready to move into the season of natural disasters, and if the government generously gives small businesses money to keep them going, and then the small business cuts their insurance, when the next natural disaster strikes, - fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake or other- and the business does not have the coverage, they will close their doors for good. Just something to think about,” ended Jucker.

About Three Brothers Bakery

The traditions of Three Brothers Bakery began in Chrzanow, Poland circa 1825, and were preserved despite the family’s concentration camp imprisonment during the Holocaust. Their miraculous liberation, and subsequent move to Houston, brought Eastern European scratch baking traditions to 4036 S. Braeswood Blvd, 12393 Kingsride Lane, and 4606 Washington Ave where the owners are now proud to call themselves “memory makers who happen to be bakers®.” Perfecting the process for almost 200 years, each day the fifth generation scratch bakers produce mostly dairy-free breads and pastries, cookies, a full line of specialty dessert cakes and pies, as well as custom birthday, special occasion, wedding and groom’s cakes using only the highest quality ingredients.

The Three Brothers Bakery pecan pie was named “the Best Mail Order Pecan Pie America has to offer” by Country Living magazine multiple times; bakery owner, Bobby Jucker, competed in the popular ‘Food Network Challenge’ and has been seen on Food Network’s Outrageous Food and other national food shows. Three Brothers Bakery won “Best Mail-Order Pies 2012” from Bon Appetit, as well as Modern Baking’s “2013 Retail Bakery of the Year” and was part of The Knot’s “2010-2013 Best of Weddings” and “Hall of Fame” picks. In 2019, the bakery won the SBA’s Family-Owned Small Business of the Year by the Houston division. Three Brothers Bakery was named one of “America’s 20 Best Bakeries” by The Daily Meal in 2016 and in 2017 blue ribbon champion at the American Pie Council’s National Pie Championship for their key lime pie in that category, and in 2018, the bakery’s Pumpecapple Pie Cake was featured on BuzzFeed’s ‘Worth It’ web series.

In 2018, Three Brothers Bakery received the SBA Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery and encourages everyone to “shop disaster zones” to help small businesses recover after natural disasters.

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Janice Jucker
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