Steve and Andi Rosenstein couldn't get a bank loan when they first started Fitigues Inc., now a $28-million casual-clothing business, in Chicago. So in 1988 they began to cultivate a relationship with a local banker.

The Rosensteins deposited $500 in a checking account at Chicago's LaSalle Bank. They then struck up a relationship with their account officer, who introduced them to a lending officer. Every year, the Rosensteins would ask to sit down with a lending officer. Finally, four years later, LaSalle gave them their first line of credit. Fitigues still banks with LaSalle. "They give us everything we ask for," says Steve Rosenstein.