Becoming a business owner was never a goal for Brenda Borders.
But when she began working for a drug testing company in 2005, her perspective started to change. With little to no experience in the industry, she was thrown into her job and forced to train herself. As time went on and she gained experience, she found herself working long hours and doing significant work for the company. Two and half years later, she began to consider starting a business of her own. She has never looked back…
“When I started in this industry, I had to learn all the regulations and how to do drug testing all by myself. I was working over 12 hours a day, which wasn’t easy, but it helped me gain the experience and training that I needed. Before I knew it, I was the one my coworkers were looking to for help and answers.”
Brenda started Northern Testing in 2007 and rented a small office suite in Minot, ND to operate out of.
She began with cold calling and worked to slowly grow her business, eventually adding one full time employee, one half time employee, and several other services for her customers. From background checks, drug pool consortiums, criminal histories, driver qualifications files, and more, Northern Testing soon became a one-stop shop for pre-employment throughout in North Dakota.
Several years later, Brenda began to feel the pains of her small office as her business continued to grow. She had rented out a second office suite in the same building to give the business more space, but she knew she would need something bigger and better if she really wanted to take her business to the next level. That’s when she found a new building that would fit her needs.
“I was telling my husband over supper one night how much I needed more space,” Brenda shared. “On the way home, we came across a building for sale that he challenged me to outgrow. I knew that this would be the perfect space for Northern Testing to grow.”
Before she knew it, she was reaching out to the real estate agent and her lender to see how she can make that building her own.
It was at this time that her lender, Town and Country Credit Union, introduced Brenda to Dakota Business Lending and the SBA 504 business loan. Through this program, Brenda was able to purchase the new building in fall of 2019 with a low down payment and at a low interest rate and a longer term. “This was a relatively big loan for a small business like mine, but the SBA 504 loan was a creative way to make it possible and affordable. Both Dakota Business Lending and Town and Country Credit Union were great to work with and made the process a lot easier than I thought it would be.” The Bank of North Dakota also did an interest buy-down on the project, giving Brenda an even better deal for her expansion.
Northern Testing’s new building has not only given her and her 9 employees more space to grow and better serve their customers but has allowed her a unique opportunity to give back to her community. Brenda has been able to rent out some of her office’s downstairs to local therapists and non-profits and 3-4 nights per week, she donates the use of a large conference room to several non-profit organizations. The space also gave room for one of her employees to bring her dog to work, who has not been certified as a Therapy Dog and now works with some of the therapists downstairs.
“It’s so nice to have breathing room instead of being packed on top of each other at our old office. Being able to use this space to give back to my community that has shown so much support over the years is very rewarding.”
Brenda has seen the industry shift throughout her career from a paper-based model to electronic testing. Because of these capabilities, Northern Testing is now able to serve 20,000+ customers from all across the country. She looks back at how her business has grown with nothing but pride.
“It’s hard to put into words. I’m so proud of the fact that I’ve started a business from scratch, learned it, and build everything from the ground up. I’m able to support nine different families in Minot and do something that I am good at and proud of. I’m very happy with how Northern Testing has grown.”
For more information on Northern Testing or to utilize their services, visit their website.
This article was written by Dakota Business Lending with permission from Northern Testing and is not to be edited or redistributed without permission.