Larry Newton: Paying It Forward One Person at a Time
By Cheryl Hentz
Larry “Lorenzo” Newton got his first job in the pharmaceutical industry at Proctor & Gamble in 1988, having met Paul Hedgeman, a P&G rep, a year earlier at a job fair. Hedgeman was so impressed by Newton that he not only remembered him, but when the company was hiring a year later, reached out to him and took him under his wing, mentoring him to help him get into the pharmaceutical industry. Hedgeman told him that someday he hoped Newton would help others, just as he had helped him.
Newton stayed with P&G for four-and-a-half years, working his way up to territory manager. Then over the next 18 years or so, he had a successful biopharmaceutical career, serving in various sales leadership roles with Eli Lilly, Gilead Sciences, Horizon Pharma, Eisai and Melinta Therapeutics. Part of Newton’s responsibilities included hiring and developing high-performing sales professionals, ensuring effective sales and marketing strategies, and successfully launching multiple drug therapies, while earning multiple Director of the Year honors.
Newton never forgot what Hedgeman did for him and, at last count, had helped some 52 people get into the biopharmaceutical industry.
In the last year, he has founded and is CEO of WCK Financial Lending, LLC. Based in downtown Los Angeles, WCK Financial was created to serve the financial needs of business owners and commercial real estate investors, including ground-up construction, business/franchise acquisition, equipment financing, business start-ups or expansions, bridge lending, lines of credit, real estate fix & flip, and SBA loans (Small Business Administration), with loans ranging from $250,000 to $5 billion-plus.
Though he still helps people get into the biopharmaceutical industry, by starting his own financing company, he can help people, minorities in particular, find financing for whatever they believe to be their professional calling.
Provided they’ve done their homework and are serious about their chosen career path, Newton’s willing and quite likely able to help them. “With WCK I’m able to help even more people and do it in a more profound way,” he said.
The idea was born during isolation during COVID. Throughout the last two years, people have had a lot more time to sit and truly reflect on what they want to do with their lives, including Newton.
“I was thinking about the next chapter of my life and what I wanted to do. I had thought about possibly getting into a franchise opportunity, but then I started looking at the world of financing. I found this one company that gives you training, ongoing support, and so on, and it made a lot of sense to me,” he said. “And this gives me an opportunity to help more people on a bigger scale, and to be able to monetize my network. People need money for what they want to do, but they may not always know where to go to get it. If they go to traditional banks, they’re going to be met with very stringent lending criteria.”
Newton has access to lenders who are not as conventional as companies like Chase or U.S. Bank; but, instead, are willing to take on more risk. Wells Fargo is his only conventional lender, mainly because they are the number one SBA lender in the U.S., by far.
“Obviously with unconventional lenders, things still have to make sense to a certain degree; they’re not just throwing money away. But they’re willing to look at opportunities that conventional banks won’t. It could be anything: it could be a line of credit because maybe they need more inventory for an existing business; maybe they just need some money to get through COVID; it could be an SBA loan, anything really,” Newton said. “Maybe someone wants to build a hotel, build a school, add onto a hospital, or something big like that. I’ve got lenders who will go up as high as $5 billion, or even past that, if an idea makes sense. I have another client who wants to buy or develop income property in the Caribbean. There aren’t any conventional banks I know of that would touch a project like that, but I’ve got lenders who will. And I can get it done quickly for people; not have them waiting around for two or three weeks just to get a term sheet.”
WCK has recently partnered with Eric Gantt and associated subsidiaries. They’re already vetting several multi-million-dollar opportunities. Helping people realize their dreams every single day of his life is what gets Newton fired up about his work.
Helping make a difference for people is nothing new for Newton. That’s how he was raised, so it’s in his DNA. The Washington, D.C. native earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics at Hampton University, and after college he not only helped fundraise money for different nonprofits but helped guide some younger students’ careers.
One way he did this was to put together an event in the ballroom of a local hotel where he invited professionals from the area who were in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) come in to meet students. They sat around at tables and talked with each other, giving the students a sense of what kind of careers they could pursue, what the job market was for those positions, and so forth. “The feedback I got was ‘it was the best thing ever’ because it gave students at least some guidance as to what they might want to pursue outside of college, where a lot of people had no clue.”
He and some of his peers also did a lot of tutoring of high school students on weekends. When he got to L.A., he coached a lot of youth sports. Once he got to L.A., Newton began getting parts in TV sitcoms, dramas, and commercials (under his stage name of Lorenzo Newton). He remains a member of the Screen Actors Guild, in case something else comes along.
Through his work as an actor, he did a stint at the L.A. County Jail where some of the kids in jail were introduced to the arts. “So many people thought they were just bad kids, when really many of them were just unfortunate kids who were the victim of unfortunate circumstances. We coached them through a play that the kids actually wrote. They also acted in the different roles and performed it in front of the other inmates. It was great experience for them – and for us. It was phenomenal.”
He credits much of who he is to his parents and grandparents. “But my grandparents were my favorite people on the planet. There lived in North Carolina, but my grandfather was very much about education first. He never drank, never smoked, he never took a vacation, he never even left the state of North Carolina. He was just one of those who talked about working hard, saving all your money, and not wasting it on things you don’t need. Of all the people in my life, I think he has influenced me the most. He also taught me about giving back and helping where you can,” as well as being the best you can be at what you do in life. It wasn’t about doing things in a half-hearted way, but rather giving something your all.
Romie Burt, Sr. lived in a very small area just outside of Raleigh, NC, known as Fuquay-Varina. He was an employee of Mitchell Chevrolet for many years. When the company was sold in 1987, Burt remained with the Mitchener Chevrolet Company for three more years, finally retiring at the age 87.
But unlike most laborers, his grandfather was well-known and well-respected by everyone in town, from his co-workers to his family and friends, all the way up to the mayor, who would stop by to sit on the porch and talk “about everything under the sun.”
Romie Burt, Sr., died on Christmas Day, 2006 at the age of 103. “I just happened to be home to visit him, so I was grateful to be there. He was one of my greatest role models and we always shared some very special moments, even during that last visit,” Newton said, adding that he still carries his grandfather’s obituary with him to this day, wherever he goes.
WCK Financial will work with anyone, but he sees a strong need to help minorities because they often tend to feel that there’s not people out there who can help them; they feel marginalized. Therefore, they may not even try to put their dreams or goals into action. “We’re committed to helping them ultimately, not only find the money that they need, but make sure that money gets secured to help them make their dreams come true. That’s what we’re here to do.”
He also has a desire to put together a program where recent college graduates who have a business idea that they’d like to get behind or perhaps they’ve built a business that they may want to expand can get the help they need to make those things happen. It’s really hard for these people to get start-up money to do anything. But I do have lenders who have tolerance for that, depending on what the business idea is.”
Anyone who wants to talk with Newton or see about getting a loan through one of his lender-partners should visit the website and contact him through it. firstname.lastname@example.org I wckfinancial.com.
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