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West & Busman Partner Up, Creating Equitrade Atlanta

Equitrade International, launched by Jim West a year ago, has completed its merger with Barter Consultants International (BCI), launched by Lee Anne Busman in 1999, creating one of the largest barter exchanges in the Southeast. The principal partners head up the new Georgia-based company, Equitrade Atlanta, headquartered in Alpharetta off Windward Parkway.

Together, they have more than 50 years of combined experience in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, barter, real estate and accounting. The merger also brings the client list for Equitrade Atlanta to more than 3,500 members.

�In a down economy, bartering makes good sense,� West said. �It is an excellent alternative for businesses that have excess capacity, surplus inventory or downtime.� West launched Equitrade International, a barter exchange for the commercial real estate industry, a year ago with the focus on bartering leases for office, restaurant, retail, and warehouse space.

�Our approach to commercial barter is unique in that we accept barter deposits, giving clients total control over their account balance,� West explained. �We are also the only barter exchange in the area with a commercial leasing program. Empty space is a perishable commodity for commercial landlords. Every month it stands empty is a loss.

�But if you can fill that space with a tenant who has something you need or can barter with other clients, it�s a win-win. It can get a new business up and running, and provide a landlord with traffic in an otherwise empty commercial property.

�Our entire business model is banking related, rather than club membership related,� West affirmed. Their office is in a banking building formerly used by a credit union, and they rent it through barter.

Busman said barter allows businesses to use their products like currency. �The liquidity comes from the large number of members who could use their product. And every new client, adds to that liquidity,� she pointed out. �Although sales are taxable, your bartered item is tax deductible. In addition, the exchange acts as record keeper for the IRS � similar to what any bank does.�

Members in the barter exchange use gift certificates that provide liquidity for those who qualify for the program. Those certificates are �banked� as credits, which deposits them in a larger pool of goods and services from other exchange members.

Equitrade Atlanta receives a fee of 10% from only the �seller� in a transaction, while the �buyer�s� gain is the gross margin of the product being traded. Members can buy and sell online using, like eBay or Craig's List, by using their barter certificates.

�That,� revealed West, �is the power of Equitrade � turning idle assets around to work for clients.�

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