Before the end of this week – June 1st, actually – APRO will welcome a new CEO: Charles Smitherman, JD, PhD.
Smitherman comes from APRO member PTS Financial Services, where he has served as General Counsel – in addition to Chief Operating Officer, then Vice President – for the past 8.5 years. He will be the association’s sixth leader in its 43-year history.
“I’m truly honored to be selected to help lead this industry as the new CEO for APRO,” Smitherman said. “I understand the essential role APRO plays in protecting and promoting the rent-to-own industry. I believe my background and experience will bring the association valuable insight and skills to support and advance not only its position as the voice of RTO, but also its duty to provide unique value to our membership.”
Previous APRO CEO Jill McClure resigned at the beginning of this year following 5.5 years of successful leadership with APRO. A nationwide search – facilitated by an executive search firm – eventually led a special committee to identify Smitherman as the right person for this critical position.
“Charged by the APRO Board of Directors, I formed an Executive Search Committee with four other rent-to-own leaders to join me in recruiting and hiring APRO’s next staff leader,” said APRO President Michael Bennett, CEO of Buddy’s Newco LLC, dba Buddy’s Home Furnishings. “I want to extend my greatest thanks to Larry Carrico, CEO of SKC Enterprises Inc. dba Rent One; Mark Connelly, Vice President of Mergers & Acquisitions for Arona Corporation dba Arona Home Essentials; Christine Hesse, head of Government Relations for Progressive Holdings Inc.; and Shirin Kanji, President of Impact RTO Holdings dba Rent-A-Center – the time, energy, and thoughtfulness they spent during this process was absolutely invaluable.
“Charles’ experience as an attorney and at the RTO executive level – along with his collaborative and modest approach as a servant leader – impressed us, and are a perfect fit for this vital appointment,” Bennett continued. “I’m sure APRO members will agree once they get to know Charles better and watch him in action.”
Smitherman’s background includes work in the financial services, rent-to-own, and franchise industries. He has expertise in executive leadership, legal compliance, litigation, public speaking, contract, franchise, and privacy law, antitrust, mergers and acquisitions, and legal research and writing.
Prior to his work at PTS, Smitherman served as General Counsel and Executive Vice President for Opportunity Tax Service, a startup franchise company. Previously, he spent almost a decade as a practicing attorney with the Georgia-based McCurry Law Firm, specializing in corporate and business litigation, legal strategy and business planning, mergers and acquisitions, contract drafting, and regulatory compliance.
Smitherman earned his Doctor of Philosophy in International Law and Legal Studies and his Master of Legal Studies degrees at the University of Oxford in England. He earned his law degree at the University of Georgia, graduating cum laude, and his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Theology from Mercer University, graduating summa cum laude.
Additionally, Smitherman has earned the titles of Certified Information Privacy Professional and Certified Information Privacy Manager with the International Association of Privacy Professionals. He is also a Certified Franchise Executive with the International Franchise Association.
With so much education and training behind him, Smitherman is ready to expand his rent-to-own knowledge through work with the APRO staff and especially its membership.
“I’m looking forward to connecting with our member dealers and vendors over the coming weeks and months,” said Smitherman. “I’ll be listening closely to our members about how APRO can continue to help meet your business needs. I want to explore new ways to collaborate with our members, who have such extensive industry experience, expertise, and wisdom to offer.
“And of course, I’m thrilled to be joining and working with the team at APRO,” he concluded. “These exceptional professionals and I will continue the work to safeguard this industry and sustain this association as the voice, champion, and headquarters for all things RTO.”