Mobile Version 2020 - Volume 28 - Issue 2
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AACFB President's Message

By Cindy Downs

If you are one who believes in “living in the moment,” you may find yourself overwhelmed with the uncertainty of our times. I have been thinking about life and how it has changed in the past few months. As difficult as it may seem, instead of thinking of negatives, I have chosen to focus on what remains positive. I recently read a news story of a gentleman who pulled a female driver to safety after her van crashed into a parked car. To keep her from going into shock, he asked her to list positives she could take away from the accident. I can’t imagine what she was thinking. For one, she must have thought that was an odd question given the circumstances. However, after a little thought, the lady identified that the car she crashed into was empty and thankfully, no others were injured.

What positives can you identify? What you are thankful for? Awhile back, I was asked to speak at a Thanksgiving service for our church. For me, this was a time in my life filled with challenges…a time when most things were anything but good! I found it difficult to identify what I could be thankful for. Before I could say no, my pastor reminded me of my many positive life experiences. I sat down to write my speech. My pastor was right, I had positives, both big and small, that I could be grateful for…it just involved focus. It required that I think positively to avoid falling back into a state of “mental shock.”

I am now again in a place where I have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful to have been elected to lead the AACFB as President, and I feel positively about our industry’s ability to adapt to this new world. We have a wonderful association filled with people ready to help each other. Additionally, we are in a great position to help our customers…especially in times where they may be experiencing the “shock” of current business challenges. Reach out to others. Rely on your peers. Learn new ideas and expand your network. Utilize our forum to ask questions, gather ideas and give back by sharing your own successes. “Shock Proof” your business, your delivery style, and your approach. Our brokers offer a great service. Membership in our organization will strengthen your business by exposing new ideas, lending a helping hand, and providing a sounding board for new ideas or concepts.    

Now it is your turn. What are you thankful for? 

Sincerely, 


Cindy Downs
AACFB President
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2020 Annual Conference

 
Hopefully you have heard that the 2020 AACFB Annual Conference has been rescheduled for September 1-3 in Washington, D.C. at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. This is a beautiful property in an amazing city. As the states start to reopen we are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will provide an update should our plans be required to change but for now we are moving forward and hope to have a successful event that will move business forward.

EXHIBITOR LIST

1st Commercial Credit, LLC
4 Hour Funding
360 Equipment Finance
American Lease Insurance Agency
Amur Equipment Finance
Ascentium Capital, LLC
Bankers Capital
BankFinancial Equipment Finance
Banleaco
Baystone Government Finance/KS StateBank
Bryn Mawr Funding
C.H. Brown Co., LLC
Celtic Bank
Channel Partners Capital
CLFP Foundation
Commercial Funding Partners LLC
ConnectedFi
Dedicated Funding, LLC
Equipment Leasing Group of America, LLC (ELGA)
Financial Pacific Leasing, Inc.
First Business Growth Funding
First Federal Leasing
Fora Financial LLC
Fundation Group, LLC
Global Financial & Leasing Services
Gulf Coast Business Credit
instaCOVER
LenderKiosk by Tamarack
Marlin Capital Solutions
Maxim Commercial Capital LLC
Navitas Credit Corp
NCMIC/Professional Solutions
NewLane Finance
North Mill Equipment Finance, LLC
North Star Leasing
Northwind Financial
Orange Commercial Credit
Providence Equipment Finance, a Division of Providence Bank & Trust
Q2 Business Capital
Quality Leasing Co., Inc.
Rapid Finance
Ready Capital
SLIM Capital LLC
Stenn International Ltd.
Sterling National Bank - Transportation Finance
TBS Capital Funding
TEAM Funding Solutions
The Hamilton Group
The Monitor
TradeRiver USA
VFI Corporate Finance
 
 
 
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AACFB Welcomes New Members

 

A big welcome goes out to all of our new members. Anyone wishing to contact a member can locate their information in the AACFB online directory.


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AACFB Benefit Spotlight

  


Visit the Members Only Section at www.aacfb.org under Savings to sign up.
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100 Putts to Sales Success - It Takes What It Takes

By John Chapin

 
 
From the title, you might think this article is about networking on the golf course and having a successful business. It’s not. It actually refers to something I heard Phil Mickelson say on a recent podcast by Ed Mylett. Ed asked Phil the difference between the top golfers in the world that play on the PGA Tour week in and week out, and those that never quite make it. They’re good enough to still be pros and they do ‘okay,’ but they never break into that top 130 or so that you constantly see on the Tour. Phil told a quick story. He said that a golfer, similar to the caliber Ed was talking about, told Phil he was having trouble with short putts and asked for his advice. Phil, who had a similar problem at one point in his career, relayed some advice he had gotten from one of his mentors years earlier. He said, “Go out and hit 100 putts in a row from about three feet. They have to be 100 straight putts. If you miss one, you have to start over.” On the podcast Phil mentioned that when he did it, it took him two days to hit the 100 straight. In fact, in one attempt he hit 99 in a row and missed the last one, so he had to start over. Luckily for him, he hit the 100 in a row on his next attempt. But you know if he hadn’t, he would have kept going. Phil said he ran into the golfer he had given the advice to a couple weeks later and asked how it went with the 100 putts in a row. The golfer said something along the lines of, “Well, I managed to get to about 50 straight, but that was it.” And, of course, Phil said he doesn’t see him on the tour. On the podcast Phil also talked about visualization and some other factors, but that “100 putt” example gives an idea as to the dedication and hard work necessary for top achievement in anything you do. I suggest you watch the podcast on YouTube.
 
Coincidentally, the podcast also tied in with a book I recently read: It Takes What It Takes by Trevor Moawad. In his book, one of the concepts Trevor talks about is the concept that if you want to be successful you really don’t have a choice when it comes to certain behaviors. For example, the great players know they don’t have a choice as to whether or not they can go out drinking at night. They don’t have a choice about what kind of foods they eat or how much work they put in. They don’t have a choice when it comes to anything that will lead to their success and give them that edge. The mediocre and poor players treat the same decisions as if they have a choice and typically, they make the wrong one. They go out into the wee hours, eat whatever they feel like eating, and they usually only do the work that they’re required to do by coaches and others, and don’t put in any extra work. Using Phil’s example, Phil knew he had to follow through on the advice of his mentor to hit 100 3-foot putts in a row. It wasn’t a choice; it was a requirement. The guy who Phil gave the advice to treated it like a choice, and that’s why he’s not among the best. 
 
Trevor goes on to say, “A habit has no way of hiding in sports. Good or bad. The film will be watched. You will be graded. Your competency is forced on you. You can’t hide behind ignorance. You can’t say “I didn’t know,” because the team also has video of the coach telling you the thing you were supposed to know. And… if you think you’re hiding behind ignorance in your non-sports job, you’re not. You may not have a ‘tell-the-truth Monday’ with video in your office, but that doesn’t make the reality any different. It takes what it takes in every walk of life. In your relationships—it takes what it takes. With your health—it takes what it takes. To get promoted—it takes what it takes. Average people become average by doing average [sh*t]. It takes a specific set of behaviors (or lack of them) to be average. No one is born that way. People can behave themselves into mediocrity. They can also behave themselves out of it… This isn’t about an outcome… It’s about creating the opportunity to win by behaving like people who win. Rarely do I recommend a book, but I recommend this one, again, it’s called: It Takes What It Takes by Trevor Moawad. 
 
The title of the book also reminds me of a conversation I once had with a business owner about some young salespeople he had recently hired. He was frustrated because they weren’t making much progress. To make a long story bearable, even though they were brand new to the industry and fairly new to sales, they were only working about 45 hours a week. I told him, “Look, in order to be successful, they’re going to have to put in about 70 hours a week.” 
 
To which he responded, “You can’t expect this generation to put in that many hours.”   
 
“Well, they basically have two or more full-time jobs between learning the industry, learning the sales profession, and learning how your company does things. How many hours do you think they should put in?”   
 
“Hmm, I guess you’re right, probably around 70, but you can’t expect that.”     
 
“It sounds like the reason you’re frustrated with their progress is because you’re expecting 70-hour results in 45 hours. You have one of two options: either adjust their expectations and require them to put in more time, effort, and energy, or, adjust your expectations to what you should expect for an investment of 45 hours by a newbie. Oh, and you’ll want to adjust their pay too if you go the second route.”  
 
He kept them around for a couple more years, really didn’t change anything, and they both failed, and he wasted a ton of money. 
 
Overall sales success is pretty simple, it’s not advanced math at MIT, calculus, or even algebra. It’s simple addition and subtraction. Once you have the right person, there are several key activities that determine success or failure. People either do those things and succeed, or they don’t, and they fail. It takes what it takes.  
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to: www.completeselling.com  John has over 31 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. 
Contact John at 508-243-7359 or johnchapin@completeselling.com 
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Maintaining Morale During a Pandemic

By Rob Misheloff


 
Employee morale can make (or break) a sales organization. 
 
Morale can be tough to maintain in hard times. Employees in equipment leasing companies are currently enduring: 
 
  • A never-ending (and unavoidable) torrent of bad news
  • Working from home (potentially with bored and/or hyper children in the background)
  • Massive disruption to daily life and leisure
 
What makes it worse is lost deals. We lose deals when lenders pull out of a specific market (or shut down completely) and see an approval die. Similarly, customers are losing contracts or getting cold feet more than ever. 
 
Salespeople must work harder than ever to close transactions. This can be challenging when also dealing with a barrage of bad news and negativity.  
 
Bad morale can hurt an equipment finance company in two ways. First, de-motivated employees will be less willing and/or able to pick up the phone and make business happen. Secondly, vendors and prospects can feel that negative energy over the phone – thus impacting success rates. 
 
Here are some of the strategies we have employed to keep the troops happy during lockdown:
 
Daily Virtual Meetings

Every morning at 8:00 a.m. sharp all employees meet over ZOOM for a 15-minute conference. While the meetings do cover essential information (such as changes in lender credit appetites), we are cognizant of the fact that this meeting may be the only “face-to-face” interaction our people have outside of their families that day. We try to make at least half of the call “fun.” 
 
Some of the things we do during calls:
 
  • Talk about what television shows people are binge-watching
  • Ask if anyone left the house last weekend (and what they did)
  • Friday is “comedy day” – one salesperson used to moonlight as a stand-up comic and does a set every Friday
  • Call out whoever funded a deal the prior day (and clap!) 
 
By lightening the mood at the beginning of the workday, we feel (hope) that we are helping our people get started on the right foot ready to close business. 
 
Fun Contests
 
We are currently running a contest. We have split the company into two teams, “Wicked” and “Coffee’s for Closers.” The contest was started on the day of the NFL draft. Each week is a quarter and the winning team each week gets to stop work two hours early on Friday. 
 
The members of the winning team overall (most points scored by the end of week four) will each get dinner for two delivered to their home from Ruth’s Chris. 
 
Points are scored as follows:
 
  • The team that makes the most calls each day receives 3 points
  • Docs in on a deal – 3 points
  • Funded deal – 6 points
  • The team that received the most vendor applications for the week gets 6 points
  • Daily head-to-head contests – 3 points
 
The head-to-head contests are all fun, and we heavily weight operations (credit and funding) so that they are participating too. 
 
The head-to-head contests have included:
 
  • “Name that tune”
  • Pop-culture trivia
  • Who can draw the best dinosaur on a surfboard
 
While these are silly things to do, there have been zero complaints, and much appreciation from staff for making the environment as fun as possible during this challenging environment.
 
As a result, even though employees are working from home, we’ve not seen a dip in call volume from our sales team, and our operations staff is as laser-focused as ever.
 
Many of our salespeople are producing at or near where they were before the pandemic hit, and I doubt we would be seeing the same results had we not prioritized morale-boosting activities. 
 
In tough times, keeping employees engaged is critical. 
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR 
 
Rob Misheloff is the President and Founder of Smarter Finance USA and Co-founder/Co-Owner of Smarter Equipment Finance based out of Las Vegas, NV. He annoys his wife daily by practicing heavy metal guitar playing in their bedroom, which has only gotten worse since COVID-19. Rob is reachable at rob@smarterfinanceusa.com and is available to talk strategies on keeping employees engaged.
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How Equipment Financing Can Help Revitalize the Economy Post COVID-19

By Dean Oliver


 
The days when we can freely attend concerts in a large, packed stadium, host a barbecue with family and friends, or even go out to dinner with a large group, feel as if they are a thing of the past. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, there is no definitive method to determine how far into the future days like that truly are and what a return to “normal” will look like when we get there. Will things go back to the way they were before, or will there be significant changes throughout public businesses? 
 
Only time will tell what the new normal will look like when it is all said and done. The only certainty is that the revitalization of the economy will be a collective effort. Each industry will have their role to play as the nation (and the world) gradually rebuilds. The equipment finance industry can play a key role, and many of those efforts have already begun. 
 
Finance Equipment in Sectors of the Economy Growing Due to COVID-19

Although the economy has taken a significant blow since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are specific sectors that are thriving. Medical equipment has certainly seen increased volumes as hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, and clinical research centers have been tasked to keep up with the high level of demand. To sustain this new level of demand, those seeking medical equipment will look for alternative methods of financing.  Equipment financing can be a perfect avenue to attain the necessary capital for the equipment as that alternative method of financing.
 
Other industries such as supply chain and computer-based technologies are growing as well. Supermarkets and online retailers are experiencing an unprecedented level of demands now (beyond the ever important toilet paper), and the supply chain is tasked with ensuring supplies the public needs to maintain normal stock is on shelves across the nation. 
 
Meanwhile, businesses of all sorts have needed to adjust to remote working, new methods of communication, and doing business digitally. It is a necessity now that employers keep their systems up to date so that there is no interruption in the level of productivity when shifting to working remotely. 
 
Finance Equipment for New Lines of Business

The pandemic has increased demand in many lines of businesses. Toilet paper, hand sanitizer disinfectants and face masks have all experienced an unanticipated level of demand that current players cannot keep up with. This means new competition will quickly be entering the industry to take a chunk of market share.
 
There are equipment finance solutions for every industry regardless of size, credit, and years in business. For example, certain companies are looking to capitalize on this increased consumer demand by expanding into those new lines of business.  Many companies are now looking to begin manufacturing masks or producing hand sanitizer, that previously had not. The expansion into new lines of business can require significant start-up expenses.  However, equipment financing can help reduce those up-front costs and spread them out over a length of time.  In addition, entering into a new line of business can be risky and it may be hard to find equipment financing companies willing to partner on such a venture. Finding an equipment financer willing to take on these risks to accelerate the growth opportunity is key. This process will make it easier for companies to enter the new lines of business and get started on operations sooner rather than later.
 
Provide for Acquisition of Remote Workplace Equipment 
 
As it was mentioned above, more and more employees have begun to work remotely. In fact, over half of all employed Americans are currently estimated to be working from home now. For many businesses, this may be a new and unique situation that they were unprepared for. This means the need to acquire remote work equipment to fully meet the demands to support their employees.
 
Businesses will have to provide their employees with the necessary equipment such as new laptops, monitors for a work-from-home station, and modems and routers for increased Wi-Fi capacity to ensure that work is not interrupted by children playing online video games. Some companies will not be able to afford this type of equipment for hundreds of employees and will be turning to equipment financers for appropriate solutions.
Support Innovation Through Automation, R&D, and Technology Investments
 
It is tough to look at our current situation in a positive light as every day there are more and more tragedies from loved ones passing to business owners losing their livelihood. However, as we together battle through this, there are going to be incredible innovations in the way we operate our businesses. Automation, R&D, and technology can all mitigate our current adversity and help us come through the other side stronger than before.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to do things differently, and often when looking at something from a different angle, fresh ideas can emerge. New ideas are always tough to implement as they require new equipment, retraining employees, and of course, capital. Equipment financing can provide the necessary funding to get these innovations off the ground and put into action. Supporting businesses by funding their increased productivity is great for both parties and will lead to future success. 
 
Provide Liquidity Through Sale Leaseback of Existing Assets

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a lot of pressure on businesses’ bottom lines and many are struggling to find ways to keep a consistent cash flow until the pandemic is over. Equipment financing can help these businesses maintain liquidity through a sale leaseback of their existing assets. 
 
When companies need cash flow, a sale leaseback can be initiated to monetize the equity of existing, owned assets. This can provide the businesses facing liquidity difficulties as a result of the pandemic with more support so that they can continue to pay their employees, their rent, and any other bills to help them through the crisis, until business operations can return to normal. The inability to pay bills may raise flags to some banks and traditional lenders. However, there are  story based lenders  that specialize in equipment finance opportunities that others may consider to be high-risk. Seeking out these lenders when higher risk opportunities present themselves can save time, money, and peace of mind.
 
Support Existing Customers Through Extensions, Payment Skips, and Restructures

With as many as 7.5 million small businesses at risk of closing their doors and numerous jobs and careers ruined, equipment finance can lend a hand by supporting existing customers facing such a fate by offering extensions, payment skips, and restructures. These supportive measures will provide many businesses with the cash flow needed to pay their bills and stay in business until the pandemic passes and the nation is ready to embrace our new normal. 
 
Not every customer will be affected in the same way, so it is important to listen to each story and understand the needs of each customer so that the solution provides sufficient benefit to their business. Financing is about supporting a customers continued success, therefore putting into place measures like extensions, payment skips, and restructures can allow the customer enough liquidity to make it through the pandemic, and get to a point in time when they can return to a normal payment schedule. The alternative is a burden both parties wish to avoid. 
 
At the end of the day, we all want to make it out of this crisis as unharmed as possible. We are simply trying to make the best of the unexpected situation facing our businesses today as well as the unknown situations that will follow. There are many solutions that can assist businesses in facing the unknown and to many, part of that solution will be equipment financing. 
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dean Oliver is a Principal of NFS Leasing, with a background in finance, operations, manufacturing, and technology. Prior to joining NFS Leasing, he served as President and COO of NEXL Inc. Dean received a B.A. in Political Studies from Gordon College, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Boston College.
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Establishing a Connection Without the In-Person Face to Face

By Brian Trebels

 
Even though the restrictions are easing, virtual meetings are here to stay. As we all get back into the workplace, let us not forget the safer alternative to meeting face to face. The benefits of virtual meetings can far outweigh the negatives. From a safety standpoint, virtual meetings are the way to go. However, why should you choose a virtual meeting rather than a phone call? Phone calls are all well and good, but adding a face to face element, while still being safe, can impact a meeting for the better. Having that face to face component gives more meaning to the interaction and establishes a connection. Let us look at virtual meetings as a necessary tool for your business, rather than a backup plan.
 
Virtual meetings can help you save time, money, and effort. Scheduling in-person meetings can be a hassle. Chances are, getting everyone together for a meeting in one place can be difficult. By choosing a virtual meeting, you can avoid many of the pitfalls that an in-person or phone meeting has. The biggest benefit of virtual meetings is that they can eliminate expensive travel costs. There is no travel time or travel expenses. It takes only moments to set up a virtual meeting, eliminating much of the scheduling time. Rescheduling is not a hardship. Rather than going back and forth with others trying to set up a time and a place, the place is already set - now you just need a time. 
 
If you can’t make a meeting, the meeting can always be recorded. Recording meetings allows not only the participants to have a record, but also gives others the opportunity to experience and learn from your meeting. Having the ability to record and save your meetings allows your company to look back on your meetings. Make sure to keep those meetings for training purposes or to maintain a clear record.
 
Sharing ideas is easier when choosing a virtual meeting. Many video conferencing applications allow for screen sharing or the sharing of files. Some even have a note taking function. At ELGA, we use a whiteboard function to take clear notes on our meetings. Those whiteboard notes are saved at the end of our meetings, allowing us to immediately share those notes with the rest of our team. 
 
There are some negatives to running virtual meetings, but those can be avoided by having a clear idea of how you want your meetings to go. Many people view virtual meetings as a chance to multi-task, which isn't a bad thing, but can be disruptive or allow people to zone out. Having an agenda for your meeting can keep everyone on task. Having an agenda is more important when choosing a virtual meeting. Sticking to that agenda and asking everyone who participates to stick to it as well can help your meeting be much more productive. Setting clear objectives for meetings can help not only for virtual meetings but for any type of team communication. 
 
Face-to-face meetings are always better for establishing a connection; so, choose a safer way of connecting.  Connect in-person without being in-person! Let us continue to keep our employees safe during this time!
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Brian Trebels is Chief Executive Officer of Equipment Leasing Group of America, LLC, headquartered in Northfield, Illinois. He is a member of the AACFB and sits on the AACFB Marketing Committee. 
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Front and Center

By Brian Huey


 

As a two-decade plus some member and veteran of the AACFB, Spencer Richman shares with us a few golden nuggets, things he has learned that we all can appreciate.
 
KNOWING YOUR DEAL
 
 
“’What is this?’ you ask. It’s your hand. You’ve got to know your hand,” Spencer says, “if you’re going to play. In our business that means knowing about your deal. Never take an application from a vendor and submit it to a lender without speaking to the customer and understanding all the basics about the customer, the equipment, the transaction itself and the vendor.”
 
RELATIONSHIP
 
“Knowing your business and knowing your deal are worth nothing if you do not have a strong relationship with your lenders. You can strengthen those relationships by coming together in person at AACFB meetings. I cannot overemphasize how important it is to get to know your funders in person. There is power in getting together. Give each lender a fair chance. Communicate to them all about your business. Take great pains to understand each funder’s business. Soon, you will find yourself working together – which is the one true path toward success as a broker.”
 
LONG TERM THINKING 
 
“Do you want to be in business for the long run? Then you must treat people right. Price your deals fairly, according to creditworthiness. If you do this, you will find yourself with repeat customers doing multiple deals for many years—instead of one deal with a few extra points one time.”
 
MEMORIES 
 
Switching gears, I asked Spencer about a few of the standout memories he has had since being in the association.  
 
He said, “Brian Montgomery! In 2008, the year Brian was president he was standing on stage in New Orleans telling a story. With tears in his eyes, he told about helping a doctor get a piece of equipment that helped to save a girl’s eyesight. I mean really, actual tears!”
 
Spencer paused. I thought now he was going to tear up. He said, “Then there was getting a chance to bring my wife and kids to Atlanta for a national conference and thank them in front of the AACFB body for giving me the time to do my work with the association.”  I visualized Spence wiping his eyes. He would say that it was the pollen. I would say smog—because I am also from Cleveland. Actually, Cleveland’s air and water quality have improved significantly since I lived there.
 
“I remember,” Spencer said, “I was also loving some pretty special receptions with all my AACFB friends – on the ferry boat in New Orleans, at the aquarium in Atlanta, and at the gorgeous Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas . . .” Spencer’s voice faded.
 
“So, Spence,” I asked, “what was the most difficult thing you experienced as a board member and eventually the NAELB/AACFB President?”
 
“I had the dubious honor of serving as the AACFB (then NAELB) president during the period when we experienced the fall-out of the 2008 housing economic crisis. The association had gained a large number of new brokers leading up to the crash and lost an even greater number shortly thereafter.  I am sure that my fellow board members from that time remember fondly with horror the excruciating board meeting during which I forced everyone to walk with me through the budget, line item by line item, and discuss every penny, nickel and dime. All I can say about that time is that it was difficult, but rewarding, and that I was blessed to be surrounded by such a dedicated and intelligent group of people. It was a time when colleagues became friends.”
 
As a new board member that year, I experienced Spencer’s amazing accounting leadership. It was a hell of a weekend. Spencer truly walked the association through a plummeting balance sheet. With a large reserve built up just prior to the crash, Joe Bonanno (then association counsel) said, “At this rate of loss, we will cease to exist in ten years or less.” Four years later the association came out in the black. This success was not indicative of new membership or creative new ways to increase funds, though those efforts continued. Success was extracted from the jaws of recession through Spencer’s tactics of efficiency, economies of scale and an innate sense of the need to run our association like we should run our business and household accounts.    
 
CRISIS MANAGEMENT 
 
Not surprisingly our conversation melded into the COVID-19 crisis.  
 
“This is a time when finding the right balance is crucial to health and survival – both personal and business. Most of our American Financial team worked from home. Then only I came into the office for a few weeks. Now (at the time of this article publication) we wear masks, wipe down common areas daily, and some folks work from home and in the office part time.
 
But we’ve also had to find the right balance in dealing with our customers. Some have tried to take advantage of the crisis by asking for payment deferrals when they don’t really need them. Other customers truly need help and we’d rather help them survive the temporary economic shutdown by deferring some payments than risk them going out of business. Protecting our business’ financial health is crucial, but so is maintaining our compassion and humanity.” 
 
AMERICAN FINANCIAL
 
I asked Spencer to compare American Financial to other broker and finance businesses. 
 
“There are many similarities between my business and others in the AACFB. We originate paper. We use funding sources and broker and discount paper. We work with vendors. We work with customers directly. We have repeat business and we network through the AACFB. But we also do some things that may be different from many AACFB members. We maintain our own portfolio of about $25MM which we service and fund with a combination of recourse and non-recourse debt obtained from community banks. We have six sales reps in three states who primarily work from home offices. And we invest our own funds into both a portion of the debt and into the residuals of most of the transactions in our portfolio. American Financial is a broker, a discounter and a lessor all rolled up into one.”
 
FAMILY LIFE  
 
As we often do, we talked about our families.
 
“Hey, thanks for asking. I do love to climb—it’s my passion that I discovered in my 40s!  [See photo in the Coping with COVID article] is me in Red Rock Canyon (outside Vegas). As a matter of a fact, I was on a week-long climbing trip in El Potrero, Mexico with my 23 year old son in early March when the COVID-19 crisis here in the states really kicked into high gear, and we nearly didn’t make it back into the states! Right now, we’re just biding our time, trying to be good citizens by not going to out of town climbing destinations – because the locals there would not appreciate travelers potentially bringing the virus to their communities. In the meantime, we’re doing a lot of baking, and recently had a castle-cake baking competition between my family’s three households. [Also in the Coping with COVID article] Here’s the one my wife, daughter and I made.”
 
THE FUTURE 
 
Winding down the phone call as we both needed to get back to originating and processing deals, we talked about the future of our businesses. 
 
“At the moment,” Spencer said, “I am strangely optimistic. We continue to see a reasonable amount of new business, although admittedly not as much as we were seeing a few months ago. But I’ve always preached that we are such a small fish in such a huge pond (made up of all the equipment financing & leasing going on in the US), that we should have no excuse for not doing well. There’s plenty of business out there – we just have to go find it!”
 
OUR ASSOCIATION
 
“I think the AACFB will always have a place, as long as the leadership continues to be flexible and thoughtful. There will always be a lot of small players in the equipment leasing & financing marketplace, and they can always benefit from each other’s experience. The AACFB provides a mechanism to share that experience.”
 
THE LARGER UNIVERSE 
 
“Once again – big pond. Huge pond. Actually, pond doesn’t do it justice. Lake, or even ocean. Huge ocean. There is so much financing and leasing that goes on in this country and world, that we all can find parts of the water to fish in.”
 
I chuckled. This is how Clevelanders talk. Straight talk. You can hear Spencer Richman’s tone and tenor in these wise words. Wisdom from a man who has seen the highs and lows of our industry, adjusted, and forged forward, for more than two decades. Go out and find the good business, AACFB.  
 
Spencer. Thank you for your service, time, and dedication to our industry and association.
 
 
 
L to R Back: Bud Callahan, Patrick Sponsel (may he rest in peace), Rosanne Wilson, Paul Nibarger, Corey Bell, Joseph Bonnano
Front: Jack Harvey, Spencer Richman, Jack Harvey, Sonia Stoddard 
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Financing Titled Equipment in a COVID World

By Amanda Zeken, CLFP


 
Perhaps one of the most impactful closures due to COVID-19 has been DMVs. For brokers and lenders who regularly fund titled equipment, this has been an insurmountable hurdle to overcome. 
 
Without the ability to secure titled assets, some lenders are wary to finance that type of equipment right now. Many lenders have placed temporary restrictions on titled equipment, like only funding deals in states where DMVs are open. Some states provide registered vendors with internal access to process DMV work themselves. This innovation in the state’s technology allowed many vendors to remain open despite state DMV closures. Perfecting titles from private party sellers in a non-COVID world already carried a higher level of risk; in a COVID world, many lenders have stopped funding private party sellers all together.
 
There are still many states that haven’t publicized a reopening date or plan. Some DMVs have started reopening with COVID precaution protocols in place. Most DMVs are not allowing walk-in services; appointments are required. A few states are prioritizing CDL services, which greatly benefits our end users. Social distancing regulations will likely decrease the amount of services that can be performed in a normal non-COVID day.
 
Business has not stopped entirely despite the closures, so it’s safe to assume that there will be a flux of backlogged work to complete. Turn times are likely to increase by weeks, if not months across the board. COVID closures shined light on the already lagging DMV systems across the states. It’s evident now more than ever that state departments have a pressing reason to transition services to a consumer-friendly channel that is easily accessible by all. While there are few states who do allow vendors to process transactions online, there is still a massive gap in the ability to roll a platform out to the general public.
 
How do we navigate this detour in titled equipment financing?
 
Having a general understanding of how titling works gives any broker a leg up. Being able to foresee titling issues and knowing how to navigate common titling problems helps save deals! It’s important to also maintain frequent contact with your vendors and funders. Things are changing daily, knowing what you can and can’t do saves time – saving money. Lastly, setting proper expectations with your customers is always key, but particularly important now. DMVs are understandably burdened with work, yielding slower results. Lenders alike have slower turn-around times due to work from home orders. Prior to funding, encourage your customer to find out what they will need to properly register and drive their new equipment. This helps smooth out potential snaggles with your customer getting the equipment to work.
 
COVID’s influence has been felt across the board in our industry. The jolt of these changes continues to surge with many aspects of our businesses left up in the air. Rest assured; we are all in this COVID boat named “Uncertainty.” Ironically enough, one of the only things we can do with COVID is what we typically have to do with DMV’s; be patient and wait!
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Amanda Zeken is the Credit Manager and Corporate Liaison for Smarter Equipment Finance, LLC, an equipment financing brokerage based out of Las Vegas, NV. Amanda first got into the equipment finance industry in 2014 while working in vehicle titling for a sub-prime direct lender that specialized in IRP tractor-trucks and trailers. Amanda has a deep background in vehicle titling and has used that unique skill set to set herself apart as a credit manager. 
 
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Trade Credit Insurance in COVID-Time

By Gary Mendell


 
Trade credit insurance protects accounts receivable against nonpayment risks. The coverage gives vendors confidence to extend open-account credit terms to their customers and dealers, even amid this dreadful pandemic and the resulting economic downturn. Credit insurance is also a financing tool that makes receivables more attractive to lenders as collateral, helping vendors borrow against their A/R to raise working capital.
 
Demand for credit insurance has been surging since the outbreak of the coronavirus. The economic downturn is leading more vendors than ever to apply for policies. Historically credit insurance has been used in other countries more extensively than in the United States but now we are starting to catch up.
 
In recent years, a lot more U.S. insurance companies have started writing trade credit policies, expanding capacity, and creating a buyer’s market for the coverage. Not anymore. Virtually overnight credit insurance has become a seller’s market. If vendors are seeking coverage now, they will need to submit a cogent and compelling application in order to get a policy.
 
For now, insurance companies are still underwriting, offering quotes, and binding new coverage, but they are growing increasingly cautious as recession looms. Capacity is tightening and it is unknown how long policies will continue being issued. Vendors who are thinking about getting credit insurance would do well to apply now.
 
How to Apply Now
 
The best way for a vendor to obtain a policy quotation is by applying for coverage on a reasonable spread of risk. Underwriters prefer to see an applicant’s whole sales turnover or at least all of a vendor’s largest open-account customers, with no cherry-picking or adverse selection. 
 
Covering all of a vendor’s receivables protects the vendor better as well. (Vendors may think they know which of their customers are going to default, but history has proven again and again that they do not.) 
 
Having said this, single-buyer credit insurance does remain available . . . but only for the very strongest of debtors.
 
A brief cover memo should accompany every submission, describing the impacts of the pandemic on the vendor’s company and their industry. The vendor should provide explanations and expected outcomes for any past-due accounts. They should put their best foot forward by detailing their credit and collections procedures, as well as any extra measures they’re taking now.
 
Going the extra mile will also help to get the vendor’s customers underwritten. A vendor can try submitting only buyer names and credit limits to the underwriters and hope for the best, but the chances for approval will improve if they can include financial statements, credit reports, payment experience (the vendor’s and other suppliers’), and information about the pandemic’s impact on the buyers’ business.
 
What to Expect Now
 
In policy quotations vendors should expect to see smaller aggregate limits and larger annual deductibles than in the past. Insurers are seeking to share the risk with vendors, not take all of it on themselves.
 
As of this writing, premiums have begun increasing across the board. At a fraction of a percent of insurable sales, however, rates remain low compared with the benefits of being covered. There is not a grace period. Premium needs to be paid at policy inception for the policy to go into effect.
 
Noncancelable buyer credit limits are still available in some cases, but the non-cancelability may extend for three or six months rather than an entire policy year. If a policy with cancelable buyer limits is the only option, then at least the vendor will be covered for sales they ship while the limits remain in effect. If the insurer reduces or withdraws a buyer limit, the vendor can keep extending credit or heed the underwriter’s feedback and revert to selling on cash in advance, letters of credit, or other secured terms.
 
Some policies still feature discretionary credit limits, which provide coverage without insurer underwriting based on the vendor’s own credit decisions and as long as their customers continue to pay promptly. A discretionary credit limit is a powerful sales tool for vendors, even when it comes with the cost of a higher deductible.
 
It helps to have reasonable expectations. Vendors need to be flexible about quoted policy terms and conditions. Some negotiation with insurance companies is still possible but vendors should be prepared to take what they can get. Right now, any policy helps a vendor share their receivable nonpayment risks better than no coverage at all.
 
Credit Insurance & Brokers
 
Trade credit insurance can be utilized by any supplier that extends open-account payment terms to customers: Equipment vendors, manufacturers of components or raw materials, distributors of any kinds of products, service providers, etc. 
 
An insurance license is required to sell trade credit insurance and/or to receive a share of the commissions. 
 
Otherwise a broker can play a role and earn fees by arranging financing for a vendors’ insured receivables. (Most banks and other asset-based lenders look more favorably on insured A/R, especially in times like these when financing challenges include longer payment terms, higher exposures, risk concentrations, etc.) 
 
Or brokers can make their own separate arrangements with vendors or with a vendor’s customer(s). Or they can simply make credit insurance referrals for the benefits the coverage will bring to the vendors . . . and their relationships with the vendors.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Gary Mendell is President of Meridian Finance Group, a company specializing for more than 25 years in cross-border equipment financing and trade credit insurance. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in 1976, Gary has over 40 years of experience in domestic and international sales, distribution, and finance. Gary cab be reached at 310-260-2130 or gmendell@meridianfinance.com.
 
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The Greene Room - Hell & High Water & Force Majeure... Oh My!

By Kenneth C. Greene, AACFB General Counsel


 
 
This series of articles continues to address some of the key terminology in equipment lease and loan agreements, broker agreements and the other documents we use regularly in our businesses. It will hopefully alleviate some confusion over some of the oft used but occasionally misunderstood terminology which forms the cornerstone of our industry. Some of it will be basic and will simply confirm what you already know. But some of it might surprise you.
 
 
Did you know?
 
  1. In recent decades, an average of seven human plague cases are reported each year.
  2. There have been at least twenty major epidemics or pandemics in history including: one 5000 years ago; one in Athens in 430 BC; the Black Death (1346-1353);  the American plagues of the 16th century; the Great Plague of London (1665-1666); the Great Plague of Marseille (1720-1723); the Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic (1793); the Flu pandemic (1889-1890); the Polio epidemic (1916); the Spanish Flu (1918-1920); the Asian Flu (1957-1958); the AIDS pandemic (1981-present); the Swine Flu pandemic (2009-2010); the Ebola pandemic (2014-2016); the Zika virus epidemic (2015-present), and, now Covid-19.
  3. The term “quarantine” originates from “quarantena”, a Venetian term meaning “40 days”. It probably has a Biblical derivation (Noah’s Ark, Jesus’ fast in the desert, Moses’ time on Mt. Sinai, etc.) and basically means forty days of isolation on a ship.  Additional useful/useless information: A “trentino” is a 30-day isolation. A “Tarantino” is a 30-40 day isolation (preferably to coincide with a trentino or a quarantena)  while binge watching Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Natural Born Killers, Inglourious Bastards, and other lighthearted fare.  
  4. Apart from plagues, epidemics and pandemics, every year natural disasters kill around 90,000 people and affect close to 190 million people worldwide.
 
Other than the obvious reasons why this is significant, these facts also come into play when they face off with the time-tested “hell or high water clause” which forms one of the cornerstones of equipment finance agreements and personal property leases. 
 
A “hell or high water” clause is a clause in a contract, usually a lease or an equipment finance agreement (“EFA”), which provides that the payments must continue irrespective of any difficulties which the paying party may encounter (usually in relation to the operation of the leased asset). It is expressly intended to limit the applicability of the doctrines of impossibility or frustration of purpose. The term for the clause comes from a colloquial expression that a task must be accomplished "come hell or high water" that is, regardless of any difficulty. The Courts and the Uniform Commercial Code have routinely upheld the enforceability of such provisions as critical to the leasing and finance industry, and these provisions withstand most challenges by lessees and borrowers.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the newest star in the legal firmament (or at least one having its 15 minutes of fame), namely, the force majeure provision. A force majeure clause absolves one or both parties to a contract from performing their part of the contract when natural disasters make it impossible to perform. Natural disasters like the coronavirus pandemic.
The law of force majeure is based on the common law doctrines of impracticability, commercial impossibility, and frustration of purpose, so you can see that the conflict between these concepts and the hell-or-high water clause was more or less inevitable.
I have not seen much definitive case law or read many articles on how Covid-19 fares as a force majeure defense against a hell or high-water clause in a breach of lease action. But there is no doubt in my mind that they are looming on the horizon. Here are some of the factors at play:
Importantly, many leases do not even contain force majeure provisions. This leaves the lessee/borrower in the position of having to rely upon the common law of impracticability, frustration of purpose, or commercial impossibility. If there is a force majeure provision in the contract, the language is important. A typical provision may include events beyond the control of the parties, such as war, strikes, riots, crime, or any “Act of God” (whatever that means). It may or may not contain the term epidemic or pandemic. Obviously the more specifically the event is described in the force majeure provision, the more likely it will be found to apply.
Maybe the reason that many leases and EFA agreements do not contain force majeure clauses, is that they are seemingly antithetical to the concept of “hell or high water”. Even without the force majeure clause, the lessee/borrower might avail himself of the common law defenses of impracticability, impossibility or frustration of purpose, all very fact-specific claims.
Impracticability means the excuse in performance of a duty. That defense can be relied upon when the duty to be performed becomes unfeasibly difficult or expensive for the performing party. The courts in U.S. follow certain tests for impracticability:
  1. There must be an occurrence of a condition, the nonoccurrence of which was a basic assumption of the contract;
  2. The occurrence must make performance extremely expensive or difficult; and
  3. This difficulty was not anticipated by the parties to the contract
One example of this would be a contract by which I agree to sell you my car. Before the transaction, the car is stolen (I live in a bad neighborhood). I am excused from my duty to sell you the car (unless it is recovered).
 
Commercial Impossibility is similar. It is an excuse in performance based on a change in circumstances or the discovery of preexisting circumstances making performance literally impossible. I agree to paint your house for $5000 (my hourly rate!) but your house burns down. We are both excused from performance as it is impossible to paint a house that no longer exists. Or, much more difficult, at least.
 
Finally, there is Frustration of Purpose. This is a defense to enforcement of a contract when an unforeseen event undermines a party’s principal purpose for entering into a contract. If I get a mortgage for a new house, and the house burns down, absent a hell or high water clause, I might be exempt from the remainder of the mortgage. Of course, mortgage lenders are much smarter than that. But you get the gist of it.
 
As you can see, these common law doctrines are similar, and often confused. But they all amount to the same thing, namely, an attempt by a contracting party to be relieved of his or her obligations due to some unforeseen event which renders performance impossible or unreasonable.
 
The concept of force majeure is built around these common law doctrines. The difference is, however, that the provisions are often written into the contract with enough specificity to make it easier to determine the applicability of the doctrine. Our association recently had to deal with this issue when Caesars Palace announced it would be closed the month prior to our conference. The contract had a force majeure clause which, thankfully (from our perspective) included pandemics. We were able to cancel the contract without penalty. 
 
For the leasing industry (and a few others), the interplay between hell and high water provisions and force majeure clauses is bound to result in litigation. On the one hand, you have a lessor/lender who has specifically included in the contract that nothing abates payments . On the other, you have public concerns about compelling performance in the face of events which render performance manifestly unreasonable.
 
The Courts have generally honored the hell or high water clause despite intervening “force majeure´ type events, like Hurricane Sandy, [General Electric Capital Corp v FPL Services, 986 F. Supp 2d 1029 (N.D. Iowa 2013). But the Courts are everchanging, as is the world in general (you think?). Hard to say what will happen when a case with “bad facts” pits a solid hell or high water clause against a well drafted and comprehensive force majeure clause. My advice would be to handle each situation gingerly. If there is a workout to be had, perhaps through insurance, replacement equipment, deferred payments, etc., that might be preferable to the uncertainty of litigation. In any event, we are sure to see more on this subject over the course of the next few years.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kenneth C. Greene is an attorney based in Westlake Village, California. He has been representing lessors, brokers and others involved in the leasing and finance industry for almost 40 years. His practice entails documentation, licensing, compliance, litigation, and bankruptcy. He is currently General Counsel to the American Association of Commercial Finance Brokers as well as an Advisory Board member of Leasing News. 
 
This article is presented by the Law Office of Kenneth Charles Greene. All copyrightable text, the selection, arrangement, and presentation of all materials (including information in the public domain), and the overall design of this presentation are the property of the Law Office of Kenneth Charles Greene. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to download and reprint materials from this article for the purpose of viewing, reading, and retaining for reference. Any other copying, distribution, retransmission, or modification of information or materials on this site, whether in electronic or hard copy form, without the express prior written permission of Kenneth C. Greene, is strictly prohibited.

The materials available from this article are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to these materials does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Law Office of Kenneth Charles Greene and the user or viewer. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author. 
 
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Connecting Through Association Involvement

By Andre Clifford, CLFP


 
As equipment lease and finance professionals, we rely on relationships and human connections to grow and sustain our businesses. We develop many of these relationships at in-person meetings for industry associations, but what do you do when in-person meetings aren’t possible? Pivot and adapt, just like we are all used to doing. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely altered the way that we develop relationships with our clients and partners. We currently don’t have the luxury of seeing our friends and business partners in person, but we can’t let that keep us from connecting. This is why it is important now more than ever, to be an active member of industry associations. Although the benefits of being in an association are vast, some of the key benefits are access to diverse educational material and access to networking outlets like the AACFB Community. By participating in networking opportunities, you may find a mentor to help accelerate your career. The leasing and financing associations are loaded with industry veterans eager to share their knowledge. 
 
Expand Your Network:

Most of us recognize that networking is vital to having a successful career, but this can often fall on the back burner when we are consumed with our busy lives. Even though it might be difficult to find time to network, the return on investment makes it well worth it. AACFB and similar associations are fantastic avenues to help expand your network. More specifically, the AACFB conferences are great for exchanging fresh ideas and building connections. Although in-person conferences have been put on hold, there are plenty of virtual conferences happening. Be sure to take advantage of these until we can resume our in-person conferences. If you were planning on meeting with a specific person or company at one of the spring conferences, see if you can schedule a virtual happy hour with them instead. 
 
Broaden Your Knowledge:

The equipment financing and leasing industry is anything but static. Whether it’s new accounting standards or new legislation (thanks, California…) there is always something changing that may affect your business. The good news is that industry associations are devoted to keeping you in the loop. Many associations have an online learning center that are filled with useful content.  In addition to the online learning centers, the CLFP Foundation just had their very first virtual Academy for Lease and Finance Professionals and plan to have more in the near future. The Monitor’s Disrupted conference series has moved to an online platform and is extremely informative.  If you’re still hungry for more educational content, AACFB has a summer full of Meet the Funder webinars. 
 
Learn from an Industry Veteran or Become a Mentor:

I’ve had the pleasure to learn from some amazing leaders who have revolutionized the industry. The key here is to soak up as much information as you can. The industry veterans love telling stories about what it was like to lease equipment before email and cell phones. It really makes you appreciate the way we currently help businesses finance equipment. On the flip side, if you are an industry expert, reach out a hand and help a newbie. Giving back can be the greatest reward! The AACFB is in the process of creating a mentor program and hope to roll it out soon. 
 
The pandemic has made networking less than ideal, to say the least, but that is all the more reason to focus time on being an active member of industry associations. I missed seeing everyone at the AACFB Vegas conference, but I can’t wait to celebrate this amazing association in September! Stay safe and see you all soon.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Andre Clifford, CLFP currently serves as vice president at BankFinancial’s Small-Ticket Equipment Finance Division and is responsible for managing third-party originator relationships. Prior to joining BankFinancial, Andre was Underwriting and Funding Manager at Bryn Mawr Funding, where he led the operations team to record funding numbers.   
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Virtual Trade Shows & Expos ... A Wave of the Future?

By Paul Bosley


 
Since the pandemic and resulting social distancing have begun, all trade shows and franchise expos that we planned to speak and exhibit at have been cancelled. These events were quickly replaced with virtual trade shows and expos, which we decided to participate in to test the waters. Just like everything else in business and in life, there are good and bad aspects of any significant change. 
 
The good news is that our 2020 marketing budget, which includes the travel expenses directly associated with exhibiting and/or speaking at the onsite events, has significantly decreased!  The virtual events were either free or offered for a fraction of the cost compared to the onsite events. Consequently, for the first time in years, we are not overspending on marketing! Our goal going forward will be to maintain our marketing budget at 10% of gross profit.
 
Another positive aspect of the virtual events is that we did not have to take the time to travel from FL to CA, CO, and NYC where the onsite events were scheduled. Since I am a self-employed workaholic, I used that time towards more productive activities; for the first time in years, I feel on top of my to do list. I have more time to write articles for a variety of publications, including this article submitted to AACFB, and I have learned how to use ZOOM and Microsoft Teams to make presentations and communicate with our clients and my associates.
 
Finally, I realized that giving an engaging seminar presentation online is very different than presenting in person. Consequently, I realized that I had to improve my PowerPoint presentations, so I hired a marketing professional I located on Upwork and she has already converted three of my boring presentations into more appealing and professional looking presentations. 
 
Now, the bad news! My analysis of the following virtual presentations and trade shows to date is that they are nowhere near as effective as on-site events. 
 
  • Our 1st event was a virtual trade show hosted by the “Association of Fitness Studios”, a fitness industry trade association for personal trainers who may or may not own their own studio. My presentation took place on May 2nd and was well attended, but no new business has resulted to date.  
  • Our 2nd event was the “Virtual Franchise Festival” which took place from May 15-17. We gave a financing seminar for new franchises. We were also an exhibitor and the title sponsor of this event. We have received some warm leads so far, but no new business yet. Time will tell….
  • Our 3rd and 4th events took place on the same day last week. Now that is something that is impossible with live events, but certainly doable as virtual events!  On May 29, I gave two seminars at the “Life Stream Mania” event which is a personal training certification event. Again, we had good attendance, but no hot leads so far. The “Virtual International Franchise Expo” which is the largest on-site franchise trade show in the US hosted at the Javits Center in New York City took place from 5/28 – 5/30. We had a booth and I recorded a seminar on how to finance new and existing franchisees. We have received 20 email leads so far. 
  • This coming week, I am the finance instructor for the “Perspective Owners Workshop” being hosted by the Association of Recreational Vehicles and Campgrounds. This was originally scheduled as a live event and will be conducted virtually. 
I have been told by my reps at these virtual trade shows and expos that the attendance and participation is significantly greater than an onsite event. My initial instinct is that these virtual events are certainly less expensive and require much less time, however, they will generate less new business. I believe that in the end the trade show industry will return to the way business was conducted before the pandemic. 
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Paul Bosley founded Health Club Experts Dba Business Finance Depot (BFD) in 2006 which specializes in financing startup and existing businesses in the fitness, franchise and RV park and campground industries. BFD packages SBA loans, USDA loans and equipment leases using selected funding sources best matching each industry and applicant. Paul has been a SCORE volunteer & presenter since 2012 and is a contributing writer for publications and a speaker in trade shows in the three industries that BFD serves.
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Coping with COVID

Compiled by Brian Huey


 
AACFB members are dealing with a dramatically changing business environment, refocused family interactions, primary school Zoom’ing, reshaped interpersonal connectivity, and emotional, psychological, and physical health challenges. It is mentally exhausting just writing that sentence! 
 
One thing I know about the amazing people that make up our association—brokers, funders, and service providers—is that they understand what it takes to be successful in the face of adversity. 
 
“Business opportunities are like buses: there’s always another one coming.” 
–Richard Branson  
 
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
–Socrates
 
Worry not my friends and keep moving forward. In the words of Publilius Syrus: Lapis volvens nihil musci colligit.  
"A rolling stone gathers no moss."
 
I hope you enjoy this brief compilation supplied by some of your associates. Empathize, chuckle and perhaps, with me, shed a tear or two along the journey. 
 

 
Bill Scopp with Ameritech Leasing is handling COVID from his farm in Overland Park, Kansas.
 

      
The only thing keeping Kristi Darlington with instaCOVER from 100% efficiency, working from home in Kirkland, Washington, is Kobe’s love for the computer. “You mean it’s not a toy?” Kobe asks.
 
 
Gerry Oestreich with ABC Leasing & Financing headed home in early March to Delmar, New York in his motorhome, from his winter office in Williston, Florida. Gerry stated that, "Biz seems to be fine, thank goodness."
 
 
       
Traveling between Florida and the North Carolina mountains is how Mike Parker with Florida National Equipment Finance has fun. We are not sure how his better half feels about that. Mike is feeling great after some close calls with health. I’m looking forward to a ride on that . . . What do you call it? The Slingshot?
 
Mike says his hair needs a cut and he needs more business but is otherwise doing well.       
 
 
Spencer Richman with American Financial Network in Cleveland, Ohio is enjoying time outdoors. He stated, "There seems to be a lot of business out there. It’s a big pond. We are making the best of family time. This is the castle cake we all made together."
 
     
"May is shaping up to be fair & we see light at the end of the tunnel . . . hopefully it is not an oncoming train," stated Ron Mitchell with BancLease Acceptance Corp. in Irving, TX.
  
Bud Callahan with National Equipment Leasing in Indianapolis, Indiana quipped that, "No customer is giving me the virus on my phone!"
 
 
 
 
 
Pete Sawyer with Sun South Equipment Leasing tells me that the Sawyers are coping well in Florida. The family has always been close but is even closer. Business is steady and they are showing movies again at the outdoor Silver Moon Drive-In. This nostalgic venue might very well be the wave of the future.
 
 
Joan Modes with Gem Commercial Credit in Livonia, Michigan shared that, "Two of my sons and their wives are all in healthcare and both daughters-in-law are pregnant, so it has been scary ... Unfortunately, Robert's commencement ceremony was cancelled. We put this on his lawn on the day of his virtual commencement and we had friends and family join us on a surprise ZOOM toast to the achievement.  Robert will begin his Residency in Emergency Medicine soon."
 
Paul Burnham with El Dorado Commercial Finance in Irvine, California shared that the family does a daily FaceTime.  
"I'm trying to stay positive and keep moving. No matter what the day brings, it's easier to handle with a little exercise and prayer first thing in the morning," says Paul.     
 

 
Carrie Radloff with American Financial Partners in Gary, South Dakota says her family has been playing a lot of games! . . . Cribbage, Blitz (31), Trash, UNO, Clue . . . golf!  She says, "We also like to go for family walks at the Pipestone National Monument . . . It’s been great having that extra time with our daughters."  
 
 
AACFB Executive Director, Monica Harper is also enjoying time outdoors with her family of six in Louisville, Kentucky. They recently hiked through an abandoned amusement park in a nearby state park to get some fresh air.
 

 
As most of you know, our illustrious attorney, Ken Greene’s talents go far beyond legal advice. But did you know, it’s a family thing? Enjoy this wonderful spotlight into the Greene family home in Westlake Village, California.
 
 
AACFB President, Cindy Downs with Heartland Capital Group in Fargo, North Dakota says, "If there is one thing I have learned during the COVID world, it is working from home is possible. I love the commute and lunch with my husband every day is a treat. We had been expecting our first grandchild (A girl!) who arrived in May. So, I had been patiently waiting and shopping during the shutdown. I have also found out that shopping…well shopping is just too easy any way you look at it!"    
 
Shawn Smith with Dedicated Commercial Recovery in
Roseville, Minnesota shared that, "While COVID-19 has presented my company and me with numerous and unexpected challenges, it has in many ways made us stronger, brought us closer together, and reinforced our foundational values like the importance of faith and family.
 
Most importantly, my wife and I have been reminded that life goes on as we welcome our new baby boy, Fox, to our family. Now, more than ever, I realize how critical it is to support one another, have faith that better times are coming, and remember to see the good!"      
 

 
Theresa Thacker with Brahma Lending and Leasing shared social distancing the Idaho way. She states, "My new favorite thing is fly fishing for steelhead. We really live in a beautiful state, and I love that we have taken this time to get outside more and enjoy that beauty. I hope, when things start getting back to normal, that we will make ourselves take more time to be with our family, and spend a day on the river, in the mountains. These are my favorite places to be."
 
 
A sobering memorial from Katie Baker. Let us not forget how COVID-19, and other crises, have a cause and effect far reaching past the obvious. From the staff here at Commercial Break, our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone.
 
Katie Baker with MC2 Finance in Kentucky shared that, "This is my good friend, Morgan, whose life was lost because of depression resulting from this virus. It just doesn’t affect people with the virus. It is affecting people’s mental sanity and their financial situations. Remember to reach out and stay in touch with those you love. You never know when they will be gone. RIP." 
ZOOM classroom. Drive-by birthday. Walmart masked and unmasked. Outdoor vita-D recreation. Wildflowers. Grandchildren, FaceTimed. Farmers' market with less farmers. 
 
As Thoreau so aptly noted when isolated at Walden Pond, a writer works from a secluded place. For me, I am sheltered at home or in the office absorbed in contemplation. After weeks of separation from society my brother-in-law, stifling a chuckle, asked, "What's it like working from home?" He was right, as for me it is a lot of the same with some striking exceptions. I miss my YMCA and they padlocked my outdoor pool. So now I swim in the river. It has been ten years since I hung up my open water wetsuit. Lastly, like everyone reading this, we miss restaurants (may God bless the proprietors in our country). On average we patronized our local eating establishments more than thrice a week. 
 
Solitude, meditation, and quiet, allows me to create. With the backdrop of motors on the river, less planes that drone from above, the space station last eve, and a harmony of bird song, I hear what I need to write. I find while editing that my words are many times remembering fragments of a dream, later read with surprise.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR 
 
Brian Huey is a novelist, screenwriter, and co-editor of Commercial Break. His membership with the AACFB spans more than twenty-five continuous years. You can find more about his books at www.brianhuey.com . Contact Brian to submit ideas for articles at brian@LeaseSource.net . LeaseSource, he says, is a classic equipment lease and finance broker, originating transactions for AACFB funding sources to fund, since 1993.
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Member News


AACFB President Gets Promoted to Grandmother

AACFB President, Cindy Downs was promoted to grandmother on May 15, 2020. The North Dakota native welcomed a granddaughter, Myah Louise Downs, weighing in at 7 lbs. 15 oz. Cindy had been making good use of her time waiting for Myah's arrival with online baby clothes shopping! She is now enjoying her new status.
 
Congrats Cindy and family!  
 


Former NAELB/AACFB President Retires
By Brian Huey
The phone buzzed. I looked at the number and smiled. “Hello, my friend. What do you want me to volunteer for now?” I quipped. 
 
“Not this time,” Sonia v.M. Stoddard chuckled and then she was quiet for a beat or two. “Well, here it is. It is official. On May 1 of this year, exactly twenty years to the day I opened the office door for business, I decided to retire.”
 
It was my turn to be speechless. I have fifty stories, but this one is about her tenacity. Sonia called me often to join NAELB (now AACFB) committees, and to run breakout sessions at meetings. One day, in a weak moment, she asked me to allow my name to go into the hat for Treasurer of the association on the board of directors. I served for six years. One day, (Are you noting a pattern?) she called me and asked me to write an article for LeasingLogic, the association's quarterly newsletter. That turned into a regular gig and eventually everyone bolted, and I was left as writer, editor, and chimney sweep. Within a year I was joined by a wonderful team of writers and line editors and with Monica Harper’s expertise, Commercial Break is the current and ultimate product. Thank you, Sonia.  
 
"So, what’s the story?" I asked. 
 
“I don’t know. It’s been coming for some time . . . you know. The last Friday in November I closed my office door after closing my last transaction. I’ve handled follow up items since then, but nothing new.”
 
“How do you feel about it now? A good decision?” 
 
“It has been an interesting run and I have truly enjoyed so many moments, especially from my mentors and supporters. Many of the NAELB [AACFB] people and others have become very close friends, advisors, confidants and, thankfully, we stay in touch. It is bittersweet to walk away, but I am truly looking forward to this next chapter in life. Transitions are tough and we are staying positive. My deep thanks to everyone along the way who helped us become successful. As with my other, smaller botanical venture, I will leave the website page intact until Facebook decides it is truly inactive. Again, please pass on my deepest appreciation and thankfulness for everyone’s support.” 
 
We talked for a time and I thanked her for being one of my many mentors in the business. I thanked her once again for increasing my workload quarter after quarter. 
 
Just because she lived in one of those 90210 addresses, I have to tell you that of course Sonia was featured in commercials as a youngster. Like Duncan Hines! And – she is a published author of a book on mathematics!  
Thank you, Sonia, for your years of service to the NAELB/AACFB and this industry. 
 
Here is a list of Sonia’s accomplishments. 
 
  • Programs and workshops for trade and professional organizations and conferences and is a respected, noted speaker.
  • NAELB Best Practices Broker. In 2008, the National Association of Equipment Lease Brokers (NAELB/AACFB) launched an ethics certification program. Ms. Stoddard was one of the first five people to apply for and pass the exam on her first attempt. There are currently fewer than twenty Best Practices Brokers in the United States.
  • The NAELB/AACFB offers this certification for their members in good standing, of at least two years. The designation recognizes one’s ability to apply the Code of Ethics to everyday business practices. Through the certification process, brokers display that they have demonstrated the ability to apply the Code to general business practices in situations that they may face during their daily business operations. Those passing the Ethics exam have earned the right to utilize the “AACFB Best Practices Broker” certification that is licensed by the AACFB.
  • Spotlight Article, April 2005:  A personal interview with Ms. Stoddard:
  • Sonia’s company logo has the look of professionalism. 
                                                                        
 
Sonia v.M. Stoddard, principal of Stoddard & Associates, formerly with ABN-AMRO, American Equipment Leasing and CitiCapital, some of the country's largest lease funding sources, has structured PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS/MEMBERSHIPS:
 
  • Association of Legal Administrators
  • Los Angeles Paralegal Association
  • Legal Assistant Management Association
  • Professionals Network Group (West Los Angeles Group Leader)
  • Equipment Leasing Association
  • Los Angeles Cash Flow Association (Advisory Board)
  • Marina Del Rey Chamber of Commerce South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce
 
NAELB [AACFB]
  • Master Member
  • Best Practices Broker
  • Communications Committee and Master Member Liaison
  • LeasingLogic Newsletter Editor
  • Director-at-Large 2005, 2006, 2007
  • Vice President 2008/2009 
  • President-Elect 2009/2010
  • President 2010/2011
 
Anyone wishing to send Sonia messages of congratulations can send them to  LeaseLegal@aol.com.
 

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Industry Buzz in the Biz

 

CLFP Foundation Releases Eighth Edition Handbook

MARCH 23, 2020 – NORTHBROOK, IL - The Certified Lease & Finance Professional (CLFP) Foundation’s Executive Director and Board of Directors is pleased to announce that the eighth edition of The Certified Lease & Finance Professionals’ Handbook is now available for purchase.

Deborah Reuben, CLFP; President of TomorrowZone, was again engaged to update the previous edition with a focused effort on incorporating the latest changes to the Body of Knowledge.  Ms. Reuben consulted with five additional Subject Matter Experts and stated, “It was a pleasure collaborating with Reid Raykovich, CLFP and this knowledgeable group of contributors to revise and launch this new edition of the book.”

Expanded and updated content includes revisions to reflect the evolution of tax and accounting, expanded overview and history, new CECL implementation timing, and updates throughout the text. Overall, seven of nine chapters were revised for this edition to accommodate the updated Body of Knowledge.

The Handbook is available for purchase through the Foundation’s website and also through Amazon.  The 2020 CLFP Exam will continue to be based on the Seventh Edition of the Handbook, and in 2021, the Exam will be updated to reflect the new content.  A digital version will be available soon as well and may be purchased through the Foundation’s website.

Equipment Finance Leader, NFS Leasing, Inc. Provides Critically Needed Funding to Gravity Diagnostics for COVID-19 Testing

March 20, 2020 - BEVERLY, MA - NFS Leasing Inc. a Beverly, Massachusetts leader in equipment finance has partnered with Gravity Diagnostics, a state-of-the-art CLIA laboratory providing innovative laboratory services including testing of COVID-19. NFS Leasing has financed a total of $2.2MM to date for Gravity Diagnostics. 

As the outbreak of COVID-19 has rapidly spread across the world and into the U.S., so has the discussion on COVID-19 testing availability, including materials and equipment to support that testing. 

“Different people and businesses have different roles to play in a crisis such as COVID-19. For Gravity that role is to assist in ensuring that Americans have rapid testing and results, as ordered by a licensed clinician.” says Tony Remington, CEO of Gravity Diagnostics. “In the past we have partnered with NFS Leasing to help fuel our growth. This time we specifically needed NFS to quickly help finance Thermo Fisher systems that enable testing for COVID-19. Once again, NFS helped us find a finance solution fast.”

“These are obviously unprecedented times for many businesses and when we heard Gravity’s story and its urgent need for equipment finance to meet testing demands, we took immediate action to get it done quickly,” states David DePamphilis, Executive Vice President Sales at NFS Leasing. “As a story lender, we listen to customers that are in unique situations and in need of critical equipment finance, every day.  Supporting Gravity in this particular situation is something the NFS Team is extremely proud of. We hope that this equipment will help facilitate the additional and much needed testing of potential COVID-19 patients. 

Colleen Daly-Tinkham Named Chief Marketing Officer by American Lease Insurance

MARCH 24, 2020 – SUNDERLAND, MA – American Lease Insurance Agency Corporation (ALI) has appointed Colleen Daly-Tinkham to the post of chief marketing officer. In this new role, Daly-Tinkham will expand and focus ALI’s marketing efforts to small-ticket equipment and vehicle leasing and financing companies and their brokers and vendors and small-business customers.

Daly-Tinkham is a 25-year marketing veteran in the equipment finance industry who served 15 years as a vice president of Key Equipment Finance, and previously as director of marketing for American Express. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of New Hampshire in business administration and marketing, served as chair of the communications committee of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA), and is a member of the editorial board of the industry publication Monitor.

Daly-Tinkham will report directly to ALI President Steve Dinkelaker, who remarks “We’re very pleased to welcome Colleen to ALI: her proven marketing expertise in the equipment finance industry makes her a strategic asset to help us leverage new channels to engage with clients and prospects. This will enable ALI to continue to grow as a valuable resource for the equipment finance industry, fulfilling our commitment to protect clients and their customers in challenging times.”

CLFP Foundation Adds 19 New CLFPs

APRIL 7, 2020 – NORTHBROOK, IL - The Certified Lease & Finance Professional (CLFP) Foundation is pleased to announce that 19 individuals who recently sat through the 8-hour online CLFP exam, have passed.  They are:

  1. Jeremiah Branham, CLFP – Senior Underwriting Analyst, Key Equipment Finance
  2. Nina Cole, CLFP – Lead Credit Analyst, Key Equipment Finance
  3. Jennifer Eckert, CLFP – Credit Manager, Key Equipment Finance
  4. Benjamin Hall, CLFP – Senior Counsel, Key Equipment Finance
  5. Cheryl Hanson, CLFP – Delivery Services, Manager Americas, Ambit Asset Finance, FIS
  6. Carolyn Hayes, CLFP – Senior Remarketing Analyst, Key Equipment Finance
  7. Abraham Hernandez, CLFP Associate – Fleet Analysis, Fleet Advantage, LLC
  8. Joshua Huyck, CLFP – Vendor Finance Coordinator, Financial Pacific Leasing, Inc.
  9. Christina Lee, CLFP – Manager - Underwriting, Key Equipment Finance
  10. Albino Lopez, Jr., CLFP – Sr. Remarketing Analyst, Asset Management & Remarketing, Key Equipment Finance
  11. Ryan Magee, CLFP – Transaction Coordinator, Financial Pacific Leasing, Inc.
  12. Katharine Morris, CLFP – Senior Account Manager, Key Equipment Finance
  13. Cody Nestor, CLFP – Finance Manager, Ascentium Capital LLC
  14. Lucas Pick, CLFP – Assistant Vice President, Key Equipment Finance
  15. Catherine Rein, CLFP – Lead New Business Support Analyst, Key Equipment Finance
  16. Kendel Santora, CLFP – Sales Assistant, Ascentium Capital LLC
  17. Tanner Teply, CLFP – Sr. Municipal Credit Analyst, Key Equipment Finance
  18. Derek Vander Linden, CLFP – QA & Projects Analyst, Key Equipment Finance
  19. Karin Walker, CLFP – Title Specialist II, Financial Pacific Leasing, Inc.

When asked why Mr. Huyck attended the ALFP hosted by his company, Financial Pacific Leasing, he stated, “I chose to pursue the CLFP designation because possessing a thorough understanding of the foundational principles and framework of the industry, as well as the full array of operations and opportunities within the field, are fundamental to success and growth. The culmination of said education and knowledge in the form of the certification is not only a prestigious honor bestowed by my industry peers but also furthers future training possibilities and collaborative opportunities to achieve increasing success in my current role and the industry at large.”

Maxim Commercial Capital Funded 250 Businesses in 1Q 2020

Hard asset-secured lender adapted quickly in response to COVID-19 pandemic 

APRIL 14, 2020 - LOS ANGELES, CA – Maxim Commercial Capital is pleased to announce it funded hard asset-secured financings for 250 small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) during the first quarter of 2020.  With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maxim adapted quickly to safer-at-home working conditions for its 30+ team members.  Maxim lends $10,000 to $3,000,000 to SMBs nationwide secured by heavy equipment and real estate to facilitate asset purchases, working capital and to refinance expensive short term debt.

“I am incredibly proud of our team’s extraordinary efforts to provide uninterrupted service to our customers during these unprecedented times,” said Behzad Kianmahd, Maxim’s Chairman and CEO.  “Our customer service representatives, sales representatives, underwriters and administration are networked together to meet the changing needs of existing borrowers while continuing to fund new deals nationwide.”

Maxim is experiencing increased demand to provide working capital secured by heavy equipment and real estate.  First quarter 2020 transactions included $145,000 to a growing underground utilities contractor in South Carolina for 100% purchase financing of a 2016 Vermeer Directional Drill and to pay off an expensive MCA loan.  The fully-amortizing, 60-month loan is secured by a first lien on the borrower’s residence and the newly-purchased drill.  

“In addition to working capital financings, we’ve seen an uptick in submissions from loan brokers with complex transactions for borrowers with strong credit,” noted Michael Kianmahd, Executive Vice President.  “For instance, we recently closed a $350,000 land acquisition loan for an entrepreneur with a FICO just short of 800.  Our borrower will build an express car wash on the lot, which is next to a gas station.  The loan is secured by the land and a second lien on the borrower’s home at 70% CLTV.”

Maxim continues to help keep essential truck drivers on the road by providing used truck purchase financing.  First quarter 2020 transactions included 75% financing for a start-up owner-operator in Cleveland, Ohio with a 558 FICO and 1-year CDL to purchase a $39,950 2016 Kenworth T680.  A California first-time owner-operator with 16 years’ driving experience and 762 FICO is in a $50,663 2015 Peterbilt 579, including a 2-year/200,000 mile comprehensive warranty, for $12,000 down.  And, a business owner with a 714 FICO and 1-year in business purchased their second truck, a $32,520 2013 Freightliner M2 Van, for $7,000 down.

CHB Adds Business Development Director

APRIL 16, 2020 - WHEATLAND, WY - C.H. Brown Co., LLC (CHB) announced Kit West has joined the company as Business Development Director for its commercial equipment loans and lease products.  In this role, Kit will be primarily responsible for business development efforts nationwide to third party originators serving the transportation, construction, and agricultural industries.

Mr. West, a 28-year Wyoming resident, brings over 11 years of sales and business generation experience to the position, most recently serving the agriculture industry at Swift Communications for The Fence Post. 

“We are excited to have Kit on the CHB team as his experience in sales and customer engagement, along with his enthusiasm for business and drive to succeed, will be a great asset for the company,” said Ed Meyer, Chief Operating Officer. 

Meyer continued, “Kit will develop new broker and dealer customer relationships throughout the nation.  His work experience, commitment to the Platte County community, and dedication to creating and maintaining positive and productive business relationships will be an integral part to CHB’s future success.”

NFS Leasing, Inc. Helps Existing Customer Expand its Business to Hand Sanitizer Production

May 28, 2020  - BEVERLY, MA - NFS Leasing, Inc. has extended its existing partnership with customer RPP Products, Inc. to help fund an expansion into a new line of business, manufacturing hand sanitizer. 

RPP Products, Inc. is an automotive manufacturing and distribution company primarily focused on providing private label oil additives. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic it quickly created a new business line focused on meeting the increased demand for hand sanitizer. This new business line was created under the brand name, Premier Pure.

“With many businesses struggling to survive and retain their employee base, it is more important than ever for businesses to reevaluate their business strategies.  Taking a new approach and expanding into a new line of business is not only a great way for businesses to succeed, but also to provide an essential service during these uncertain times,” says Dean Oliver, Principal at NFS Leasing, Inc. “We were ready to help our customer RPP Product, do just that.  

“At RPP we have been working closely with NFS Leasing for just over a year now and the partnership has proven to be extremely valuable,” Eric Zwigart, CEO of RPP Products stated. “When we saw an opportunity to expand our business while helping the general public stay safe and healthy through these hard times, NFS was there to help us get it done and we are extremely grateful for that.”

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IN THIS ISSUE
AACFB President's Message
2020 Annual Conference
AACFB Welcomes New Members
AACFB Benefit Spotlight
100 Putts to Sales Success - It Takes What It Takes
Maintaining Morale During a Pandemic
How Equipment Financing Can Help Revitalize the Economy Post COVID-19
Establishing a Connection Without the In-Person Face to Face
Front and Center
Financing Titled Equipment in a COVID World
Trade Credit Insurance in COVID-Time
The Greene Room - Hell & High Water & Force Majeure... Oh My!
Connecting Through Association Involvement
Virtual Trade Shows & Expos ... A Wave of the Future?
Coping with COVID
Member News
Industry Buzz in the Biz
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