ST. LOUIS — For five generations, the Walter Knoll family has provided flowers for St. Louis events, happy and sad, festive and somber.
"My parents are still working every day at age 86," Walter Knoll III, president of Walter Knoll Florist, said. "All of my brothers, their wives and kids work here. We've been in St. Louis 137 years. We were florists in Germany."
The business — with headquarters on Florist Row on LaSalle Street, four retail branches and a landscaping division in Arnold — has all but shut down because of the coronavirus. "We closed the stores. We have 140 employees and laid off 115," he said. "Our business is off 75%. We're bleeding money right now. We have reserves, but we're burning through it fast."
The company has applied for federal aid through the Paycheck Protection Program, and appears to have jumped through all of the hoops successfully with the help of Midwest BankCentre. It has received confirmation that the Small Business Administration has received everything it needs, Knoll said.
"I am indebted to Midwest BankCentre," he said. "Eric Whitford, a bank vice president, worked evenings, Saturdays and Sundays to get this done — thousands of pages of accompanying documentation. There have been changes throughout. We probably had to fill the paperwork out six times."
Knoll outlined the process: "First, we applied on SBA's website for a $10 million emergency grant. Second, you compute what your payroll is for the month, then you apply for a loan that is two-and-a-half times your monthly payroll."
Now the florist is awaiting the money.
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