What “ON SIGHT” Due Diligence Means for Infrastructure Projects

From our 40-years of international banking and development, here are our thoughts, comments, and experiences concerning the “Proper” due diligence.

CREF Inc. at a glance

  • An international banking group that directly provides equity infusion, tailor made debt vehicles and Green Energy Grants for ground up construction projects in Smart Cities and Energy Development projects.
  • All financing is designed on a tailor made basis for each project, and the company works in the range from $15 million to $900 million US dollars per project.
  • In 2018, the company is celebrating its 18th year of international banking and development.
  • It’s based in Sewickley, PA and have offices in Cameroon, Africa, and are opening three more offices in New York, Bucharest, Romania; and Berlin, Germany.
  • It has 13 employees and is looking to expand to 20 employees by the end of this year.

If we could write a book, no one would believe us. However, those of you who are in the finance and development world, will be able to greatly appreciate our experiences along the way!!!

Words of wisdom from my boss on Day One of my career, “Get to know the people first, and you will then understand the paperwork”. “It is the people that you will be lending the money to and not the paperwork”! Paperwork is a tool to use as part of the “entire picture” of the project!

Terry L Smith, CEO and President of CREF Inc., an international banking group that finances smart city projects.

I have followed this advise since day one, and it has served me quite well!

We have established our international banking group using these principals to guide and assist our clients to a successful project, beginning with face-to-face conversations and strategic planning, and then progressing to my favorite part of the project “HANDS ON DUE DILIGENCE.”

Being “ON SIGHT” gives a much clearer understanding of the design of the State-of-the-Art Infrastructure, proper site locations for the structures, parking facilities, ingress and egress, along with so many other critical factors in order to reduce down time, change orders and frustrations that will come with every project!

Those of us that have been around a while will appreciate reviewing drawings on the hood of your vehicle, tolerating the noise and dust from the movement of heavy equipment, better known as “Yellow Iron” cold coffee that was warm when the conversations started, and all the nuances that go along with being “ON SIGHT”.

Most people have the impression that the work is done in the office, and at social events, while pressing palms of everyone in the room, and those of us with a little “Snow on the Roof” know better!

It is on the job site, where the real work is done, corrections are made and quality results are obtained from getting your hands and shoes dirty.  We at CREF, Inc., call these “Dirty Shoe Days”…  I keep my hard hat, safety vest and steel toed shoes in the trunk of my car at all times, and people always get quite a kick watching me change from the suit and tie of the office to my “ON SIGHT” attire!!!  Armani does not make construction clothing in case you were wondering!!

One of the most asked questions from clients is “Why is so much emphasis placed on due diligence, we have a Letter of Intent from this group and that group already”!  And they have never come to see us once, and have not come to the site”!

If I had a nickle for every time I have heard this, I would be on a 60-foot yacht, and enjoying some 50-year old Scotch instead of writing this article!!

My reply is always the same, “How can you trust any financing offer from any group that has never sat down and had face-to-face conversations with you, and has never visited the site”!   What bothers and concerns me the most is, the results are always the same! Now the frustrations have set in from such wasted time and money, along with not having one single teaspoon of dirt being turned, reality sets in!

Shortcuts never work, and this is quite a hard lesson learned by far to many people!

Computer generated offers are exactly that!!  Computer generated, and nothing will ever match the Face-to-Face conversations, ON SIGHT DUE DILIGENCE and a firm hand shake!!

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