Smooth sailing for Red & White Fleet

It takes an entrepreneurial mindset to keep a storied, century-plus-old business afloat. It also takes a bank that believes in the power of relationships, innovation and a “let’s figure it out” attitude.

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San Francisco Bay Area

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While we know a thing or two about multigenerational, family-owned businesses, so too does Red and White Fleet. Since first launching in 1892 off of Thomas Crowley’s $80 savings, the company has grown to a fleet of four majestic ships and big buses and delivered more than a century of service to the Bay Area. Today, it operates all under the care of its third generation of family owners.

A storied local business and a favorite for visitors, Red and White vessels offer sunset and happy hour cruises, special sailings for the Fourth of July and Fleet Week, private charters and more.

A trusted lender, a new relationship

In 2012, at the tail end of the Great Recession, owner Tom Escher approached Fremont Bank about refinancing debt. Alexis Kleinhans, Vice President, Commercial Lending Team Lead, looked to make it happen. 

Several years later, Red and White Fleet came back to see about financing the acquisition of a new vessel. This included bringing the vessel from the Statue of Liberty through the Panama Canal to the San Francisco Bay.

An institution innovates

Clearly, entrepreneurship in the Bay Area doesn’t just mean tech start ups. Red and White Fleet’s leadership encourages innovative thinking and needs a business banking partner with similar vision. Entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for opportunities to grow a business and must capitalize on those ideas quickly. This time, it was the vision to build a hybrid boat.

National banks rarely understand the complexity and nuance of a local business and often move too slowly to make timely financing decisions. Alexis looked to make things happen, saying “I don’t know if we can finance boats but let’s figure that out.”

That vessel, the Enhydra, launched in September 2018. It’s the first 600-passenger hybrid-drive vessel operating not just in San Francisco, but anywhere in the United States.

With a local bank like Fremont Bank, businesses work with a neighbor who truly understands the community served. A relationship manager knows how to collaborate to seize the day by quickly solving financing problems from the simplest to the most complex through a blend of expertise and creativity.

From debt refinancing to asset acquisition and creation, no challenge has been too difficult for Red and White Fleet and Fremont Bank to tackle together.

What to expect when collaborating with a Fremont Bank Relationship Manager:

  • The bank prospers when you prosper, so we are fully invested in — and committed to — your continued success.

  • You will have a personal relationship with your banker, who follows your business closely and becomes a trusted advisor and a friend.

  • You’ll be known. When you visit us, people will recognize and greet you and be genuinely pleased to see you.

  • We get your business and its context, so we are often willing to take risks to help you achieve your goals that bigger banks will not take.

Whether you’re a small business, a mid-sized business, real estate investor or developer, we figure out how to finance deals.

Alexis Kleinhans

From everyday financial needs to those that are unique and complex — and even those never been done before — we work tirelessly to get the financing that is best for you.