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Greek-American William Spell Talks to TNH about Spell Capital, SBIC of the Year

October 6, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The Small Business Investor Alliance (SBIA), the leading association for lower middle market private equity funds and investors, recognized Spell Capital of Minneapolis for being named 2020 Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  

As an SBA licensed SBIC, Spell Capital provides subordinated debt and non-control equity to businesses in a variety of industries across the United States. The firm, an industry leader, was honored in a virtual event on September 22, as part of National Small Business Week. 

"We are extremely proud that Spell Capital is being recognized for its long-standing commitment to investing in American jobs," said SBIA President Brett Palmer. "The SBIC program has a history of success helping small U.S. businesses access long-term, patient capital, which is going to be especially critical for growth and job creation as our country recovers from the economic stoppage caused by the pandemic." 

Greek-American William Spell, the Founder and President of Spell Capital, spoke with The National Herald about the company and about his Greek heritage. 

He told TNH that the company is doing well, “we’ve got 95 active investments, we manage a little over a billion dollars in capital. Things are good. Our portfolio of investments have actually withstood the economic downturn as a consequence of COVID, we’re doing extremely well. I have to add that the government’s PPP, payroll protection program, was instrumental in helping a lot of our businesses because most of them are industrial manufacturing or service businesses and that was an outstanding program which helped our businesses. They’re all doing well, we’re hanging in there, people are working, and so we’re very blessed and pleased of where we are now.” 

When asked about the future of the company, Spell told TNH, “we’re going to see what happens in the presidential election here in the States, because different outcomes will have different consequences, and then we’ll act accordingly, but generally speaking, we’re looking to continue to grow, grow our businesses, and go from there.” 

Spell’s advice for those starting out is that “overnight success” takes years to achieve. He said, “I like to tell people, as somebody once told me that ‘she was an overnight success, it just took 20 years.’ The key I tell young people is get a good education and then get in the game. Whether you’re in a profession like medicine, health care, government, or in the private sector, in my case in the investment business in the private sector, get in, work hard, play by the rules, and do the right thing and success will come over time – and it always does. There’s no such thing as an overnight success, it just takes time. I tell people just to stick with it, and the frustrating part of it is that many people put the time in, and after a year or two they don’t feel like they’re progressing like they should. But it takes time, and if you stick with it, things work out in the long run. Life’s a marathon, not a sprint.” 

Spell, an Archon of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and a member of the Leadership 100, is a third-generation Greek American and the past president of his parish, St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis. Three of Spell’s grandparents were from Peloponnesos, and another was from northwest of Athens. His grandparents immigrated to America between 1904 and 1910. The family name, originally Speliopoulos, was shortened by his father and uncle during their military service in World War II. When asked how his Greek heritage informs his life and work, he told TNH that his Greek heritage and the values his family instilled in him, hard work and education, were an instrumental part of his success. 

As an Archon and member of Leadership 100, Spell noted that being involved is very important to him, being able to support the Church and becoming more involved in the goings on of the Greek Orthodox Church. He told TNH that “our family, our life, revolves around our church community and we’re very blessed to have a very large, established Greek-American community in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.” 

When asked if he gets to visit Greece often, Spell said, “we love going to Greece. We try to get there every three years or so. We were there back in 2016 and we were supposed to go twice this year in May and September, but we had to postpone those plans because of COVID. We love going there and we really enjoy everything about Greece, the food, the culture, the people, everything.” 

Spell Capital Senior Managing Director Stacy Harmsen, the rising Midwest President of SBIA, said, "SBICs invest exclusively in domestic small business, providing long-term capital to U.S. companies with real staying power and real growth potential. At Spell Capital, we have been particularly focused on investing in underserved areas where job creation can make a major community impact." 

More information about Spell Capital is available online: https://spellcapital.com/ and about this year’s National Small Business Week virtual event: www.sba.gov/nsbw

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