Welcome to APRO’s 2017 Annual Convention & Trade Show!

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islandtimeMay 9-11 | Galveston Island, Texas

You asked and we delivered! After the Fuse 2015 convention in Daytona Beach, APRO members urged us to return to the ocean. We searched the country to find a perfect location that featured the space, accessibility, attractions and quality you’ve come to expect at APRO events, and we found it on beautiful Galveston Island, Texas. Located just 50 minutes from Houston, this subtropical paradise offers 32 miles of beaches, a region rich in history and culture, unique shopping and a variety of world-class attractions to make your meeting far from ordinary. Offering sweeping views of the Gulf’s sparkling waters, the Galveston Island Convention Center is the perfect spot for Fuse 2017: APRO’s National Rent-to-Own Convention & Trade Show, May 9–11.

What will rubbing shoulders with others in the RTO industry do for you?

  • Give you access to specific education tailored for the rent-to-own industry
  • Help you grow your career and your business
  • Offer amazing networking opportunities with other rental professionals
  • Give you access to specific education tailored for the rent-to-own industry
  • Bring you face-to-face with vendors offering great products at great prices for your stores
  • Update you on what’s happening in your industry
  • Help you protect your right to do business

San Luis Resort and Hilton Galveston Island Resort

APRO’s 2017 Convention hotels, the Hilton Galveston Island Resort and the San Luis Resort, are both conveniently located near the Galveston Island Convention Center. Both offer complimentary parking and great dining options.

Thank you APRO 2017 Fuse Sponsors!


appDownload APRO’s 2017 Fuse App!

To get the most out of Fuse 2017, make sure to download the free APRO app for Apple and Android smart devices. It’s our best app yet, like a convention companion on steroids! Search “Fuse 2017” in the iTunes app store or Google Play store. Once the app is installed on your smart device, simply log in with your email address and Fuse2017 as your password, then check out the plethora of information and features the app provides.

Fuse App sponsored by Sealy

Tap into the APPRO

Comprehensive information to help you get where you need to be and when you need to be there. Use the app’s MyEvent List feature to customize your own itinerary for Fuse 2017.

Find your favorite trade show vendors and discover new ones with the detailed listings that include booth locations and post-convention contact information. The Map It feature can help you find exhibitor locations, as well as locations for the RTO Education Day sessions.

The details on the impressive line-up of RTO Education Day speakers and seminars with the tap of a finger. Use the app’s Note It feature to take notes on RTO Education Day sessions, speakers, exhibitors and fellow attendees. Tap on the “Handout” icon on each session detail screen to view any hand-outs that accompany a seminar; the “Handout” icon will only be visible if hand-outs are available for a specific session. Tao the “Export” icon to do just that—save seminar handouts to your smartphone or tablet for later reference.

Take lots of photographs while on Galveston Island; tag them with #apro17 and share them via the app; tap the icon in the Gallery to import your smart device’s photos into the app. We’ll include the best shots in the May-June issue of RTOHQ: The Magazine as part of its wrap-up event. Plus, APRO will award a $100 cash prize to the best photo at Fuse 2017! The app’s Gallery feature will provide a running display of all the photos attendees are taking during the event (tagged #apro17); you can export the photos to your smartphone photo album, too.

If you post anything on the event—whether with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube or the in-app photo posts—please include the hashtag #apro17 so that we’ll be able to find you. See your tweets and posts on the leader board at the APRO registration desk.

Share your feedback with APRO by completing the Overall Event Survey; you can also rate specific sessions and speakers by tapping the “Survey” icon on the session detail screen. APRO will award a $100 cash prize to one lucky attendee who submits the survey.

The Fuse 2017 app also includes attendee contact information, floor plans, information about Galveston Island and more. Download it today and start tapping!

APRO 2017 Schedule and Social Events

2017 Schedule of Events                   Thank you to APRO’s 2017 Sponsors!

Monday, May 8

Beach Day! Come early to enjoy all Galveston has to offer!
2-5 p.m. Early registration and golf packet pick-up
3-8 p.m. Exhibitor early set-up
4-5 p.m. APRO Board Meeting
7 p.m. Bill Keese Retirement Dinner (optional ticketed event)

Tuesday, May 9

7 a.m. Buses depart for Golf Classic
San Luis—North lobby
Hilton—Front by valet
8 a.m.-5 p.m. APRO Registration
8 a.m.-8 p.m. Exhibitor set-up
8 a.m.-2 p.m. Tom Kitchens Golf Classic
(sponsored by Whirlpool)
4 p.m. APRO Vendor Advisory Committee Election
5-6:30 p.m. Welcome Reception and Hot Show
(sponsored by TRIB Group/BrandSource)
7-9:30 p.m. Fuse 2017 Gala at Fisherman’s Wharf
(sponsored by RentDirect Nationwide)

Wednesday, May 10

7-9 a.m. Exhibitor set-up
8 a.m.-5 p.m. APRO Registration
7:30-8 a.m. APRO General Session Continental Breakfast
(sponsored by Rent-A-Center Franchising Int’l.)
8-9:15 a.m. APRO General Session and Business Meeting
(sponsored by Coaster Company)
9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Fuse Trade Show with Complimentary Champagne Welcome and Lunch
(Champagne Welcome sponsored by Million Dollar Rustic; Lunch sponsored by LG & Serta Simmons Bedding)
5-5:30 p.m. APRO Board Meeting to Elect Officers
5-9 p.m. Early exhibitor teardown
6:30-7 p.m. APRO Awards Reception
(sponsored by Protect-A-Bed)
7-9 p.m. APRO Awards Banquet
(sponsored by Ashley Furniture)

Thursday, May 11 – RTO Education Day

7:30-8:30 a.m. APRO Vendor Advisory Committee Meeting and Breakfast
8 a.m.-12 p.m. APRO Registration
8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. RTO Education Day with Complimentary Breakfast, Lunch and Breaks
(Breakfast sponsored by Buddy’s Home Furnishings; Lunch sponsored by Whirlpool; Breaks sponsored by RES Accessories)
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Exhibitor tear down

Friday, May 12

Beach Day! Stay another day to enjoy all Galveston has to offer

Additional Sponsors
D&H Distributing: Pocket Show Guide
Benefit Marketing Solutions: bottled water and hotel keycards
Imagery Marketing Group: badges and lanyards
RTO Systems/Walter L. Clark & Assoc./RTO Systems, an Ascension Company: registration refreshments
TRIB Group/BrandSource: registration bags
Sealy: APRO app


This year’s Fuse convention attendees will have the opportunity to let those who serve and protect us know we are thinking of them. Operation Gratitude annually sends 200,000+ care packages filled with food, entertainment, hygiene, and handmade items, plus personal letters of appreciation to Veterans, First Responders, New Recruits, Wounded Heroes, their Caregivers, and to individually named U.S. service members deployed overseas and their families waiting at home.Their mission is to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of the Military and First Responder communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for civilians anywhere in America to express their appreciation to all who serve our nation.

Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than 1,600,000 care packages.

The APRO Giving Back project area will be located near the APRO registration desk at the Galveston Island Convention Center on Education Day, Thursday May 11, from 8 a.m.-Noon. Stop by for as little or as long as you like and help put together care packages for those who risk so much to keep us all safe.

Click here to read more about Operation Gratitude

APRO 2017 Social Events

Five social events—APRO’s Golf Classic, Welcome Reception, Gala at Fisherman’s Wharf, The Awards Banquet and Reception, and Bill Keese’s Retirement Party—will make Fuse 2017 the perfect
opportunity to network with colleagues while enjoying delicious island fare and delightful entertainment. Connecting with fellow RTO professionals is one of the prime benefits of APRO membership. “I have never attended a meeting that gives me the opportunity to hear from, and speak with, others in the RTO business who possess the knowledge and experience of those at the APRO Convention,” says Bestway’s Rick Lillard.

APRO Tom Kitchens Golf Tournament

Sponsored by Whirlpool
Tuesday, May 9
8 a.m.
Moody Gardens Golf Course
1700 Sydnor Lane
Galveston, TX 77554

This beautiful waterfront golf course will get you in the mood for some seaside fun. Designed by Jacobsen Hardy Golf Course Design, a renowned firm drawing on the expertise of PGA Tour professionals Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy, Moody Gardens is one of the best public courses in Texas. Measuring 6,900 yards from the back tees, the it is designed to be player-friendly, with five sets of tees to accommodate all playing abilities. Space in the Tom Kitchens Golf Classic is limited, so register early. The cost is only $100 per player. A limited number of rental clubs will be available at the course for those with advance reservations for $45 per set.

Welcome Reception and Hot Show

Sponsored by TRIB Group/BrandSource
Tuesday, May 9
5-6:30 p.m.
Convention Center Grand Ballroom

Pick up your bidding paddle and enjoy a cocktail or two with friends old and new while getting in on some great deals offered only during APRO’s high-energy Hot Show Auction. Casual attire; complimentary bar.

Gala at Fisherman's Wharf

Sponsored by RentDirect Nationwide
Tuesday, May 9
7-9:30 p.m.
Fisherman’s Wharf

APRO’s popular gala will be held at one of the best seafood restaurants in Galveston, Fisherman’s Wharf, located next to the island’s historic Strand District, the Tall Ship Elissa and the Galveston Cruise Terminal. A legacy of great seafood since the 1940s, the site originally housed a shrimp and fish processing facility, a vintage tin building where mountains of Gulf Coast shrimp were readied for shipments across the country. Galveston shrimp was served to President John F. Kennedy at the White House. It is considered by many to be the finest in the world. Dance to music provided by a live band while you enjoy an array of seafood delights, an open bar and a gorgeous Gulf Coast sunset. Casual “seaside” attire—more like Gilligan, less like Thurston Howell III. Heavy hors d’oeuvre; complimentary bar.

APRO Awards Evening

Wednesday, May 10
Convention Center Grand Ballroom
Reception 6:30-7 p.m.
Sponsored by Protect-A-Bed
Banquet 7-9 p.m.
Sponsored by Ashley Furniture

Help honor some of the rent-to-own industry’s finest during APRO’s Awards Banquet, where trophies will be bestowed for Rental Dealer of the Year, the President’s Award of Excellence, Vendor of the Year, State Association of the Year and more. Catch up with colleagues during the Awards Reception, then enjoy an elegant dinner while recognizing those who, over the past year or over the course of a lifetime, have gone the extra mile to help the rent-to-own industry thrive. Semi-formal evening attire; open bar during the reception, cash bar during dinner.

Bill Keese Retirement Dinner (optional ticketed event)

Monday, May 8
Bryan Museum
7-9 p.m.


Bill Keese, APRO’s executive director since 1989, will be retiring in July. For those who know Bill and want to wish him a fond farewell, please join us for a nostalgic evening sharing memories of an RTO industry leader who has helped protect and shape rent-to-own for the past three decades. The dinner will be held at the Bryan Museum (thebryanmuseum.org), which houses one of the world’s largest collections of historical artifacts, documents, and artwork—70,000 items in total—relating to Texas and the American West. This event is included with full registration, but you must be pre-registered by April 10 to attend. A ticket will be required for admission.
If you register with the paper form, please check the appropriate box on your form if you plan to attend.
If you register online, please contact Laurie Hill to reserve your ticket.

APRO 2017 Education Day

This year’s line-up of seminars and speakers will provide the quality of education you’ve come to expect from APRO, with a wide variety of topics up for discussion and some innovative strategies to take back home and implement in your stores. Whether it’s marketing, human resources, health care expenses, payment card processing, improving your online presence or pinpointing what limits your success, it will be addressed.  Plus, we’ll provide the scoop on APRO’s latest statistical survey—the first of its kind in five years—that will help us all get a refined look at the state of the RTO industry. And, of course, the association’s expert-in-chief, Ed Winn III, will cover a whole slew of additional, and highly pertinent, rent-to-own topics. ABC News analyst and political strategist Matthew Dowd will round out the day with his unique insights into our unusual and uncertain times in the U.S. APRO’s information-packed RTO Education Day promises a perfect combination of island time and learnin’ time.

Thursday May 11

All sessions take place at Galveston Island Convention Center

8 a.m.-12 p.m. APRO’s Giving Back Project
Please stop by the Galveston Island Convention Center registration areafor five minutes or several hoursand help assemble care packages for Operation Gratitude.
Click here to read more about Operation Gratitude.
Grand Ballroom Pre-Function/Level 2
8-8:30 a.m. Complimentary Continental Breakfast
Sponsored by Buddy’s Home Furnishings
Grand Ballroom-Level 2
8:30-9:30 a.m. Opening Session:
Hug Your Haters; How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers
Jay Baer
Bestselling business author and customer service and online marketing expert
Level 1 Galleon I Galleon II Galleon III Yacht-Vendor Presentations
9:40-10:40 a.m. Youtility:
Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype

Jay Baer

Your Most Valuable Asset—
Your People!

Laura Emerson
The Premier Companies

APRO 2017 Statistical
Survey Results

Greg Manns
Industry Insights

Is Your Healthcare Spending
Out of Control?

David Huerta & Bob Duch
Cost Plus Advisors

10:50 -11:50 a.m. Get the Most from Public Company Disclosures

Nick Mitchell
Northcoast Research

RTO Triage: Diagnose What Ails Your Business and Cure It!

Mike Tissot

Are Bed Bugs Bugging Your Business?

Nick Robards
Robards Pest Control

Payment Card Industry Compliance: Don’t Leave Your Business Open to Attack

Thomas Vavrin
Process Point

Grand Ballroom-Level 2
12-1 p.m Education Day Networking Luncheon
Sponsored by Whirlpool
Level 1 Galleon I Galleon II Galleon III
1:15-2:15 p.m.

Secrets of Top Store Managers

Panel Discussion with Keith Brock, Rent-A-Center; Jeremy England, Countryside Rentals; and Vincent Jarbo, Bestway Rent to Own


2017 RTO Legal Update

Ed Winn
APRO Legal Counsel

Ignite Your Brand and Fuel Your Growth: Turning Your Website Into a Sales Machine

Andrew Catapano

Grand Ballroom Pre-Function/Level 2
2:15-2:30 p.m. Seminar Break
Sponsored by RES Accessories
Grand Ballroom-Level 2
2:30-3:30 p.m. Closing Session:
Leading Through Uncertainty
Matthew Dowd
Special Correspondent and Analyst for ABC News, bestselling author
and campaign strategist

APRO 2017 Education Day Speakers

Opening Session: Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers

JayBaer_Speaker_Web_APROFuse17Jay Baer, bestselling business author and customer service and online marketing expert
8:30–9:30 a.m.
Grand Ballroom, Level 2

According to recent data, 80 percent of retail companies say that they deliver exceptional customer service—but only 8 percent of their customers agree. The haters are not your problem, though; ignoring them is.

Jay Baer stresses that the rise in customer complaints is actually an enormous opportunity. In his seminars, he outlines the critical steps necessary to retain and delight customers in an era when customer service has become a spectator sport. Baer demonstrates how to use technology as a marketing and customer service advantage. In Galveston, he’ll help rental dealers rethink their approach, offering strategies to gain more customers while keeping those they have already earned.

Baer has created five multi-million-dollar companies and is the most retweeted digital marketer on Twitter. He is the president of Convince & Convert, a consulting firm that helps the world’s most iconic brands—the United Nations, Nike, 3M and Oracle, among others—use technology to win new customers and keep existing ones. A New York Times bestselling author of five books, Baer is the host of the Social Pros podcast. He is also an avid tequila collector and a certified barbecue judge.

Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype

JayBaer_Speaker_Web_APROFuse17Jay Baer, bestselling business author and customer service and online marketing expert
9:40–10:40 a.m.
Galleon I, Level 1

If you’re wondering how to make your company seem more exciting, you are asking the wrong question. You’re not competing for attention only against other similar products; you’re competing against your customers’ friends and family and viral videos and cute puppies. To garner attention today, you must ask a different question: “How can I help?” In this special breakout session, APRO’s opening keynote speaker will delve deeper into today’s successful marketing strategies.

Youtility will have you rethinking everything you thought you knew about marketing. Filled with relevant examples, discover why the Youtility system now powers the marketing programs of hundreds of major companies.

Baer has created five multi-million-dollar companies and is the most retweeted digital marketer on Twitter. He is the president of Convince & Convert, a consulting firm that helps the world’s most iconic brands—the United Nations, Nike, 3M and Oracle, among others—use technology to win new customers and keep existing ones. A New York Times bestselling author of five books, Baer is the host of the Social Pros podcast. He is also an avid tequila collector and a certified barbecue judge.

Your Most Valuable Asset—Your People!

LauraEmerson_Speaker_Web_APROFuse17Laura Emerson, The Premier Companies
9:40–10:40 a.m.
Galleon II, Level 1

What if your team members all performed at their optimal productivity? What if they took advantage of their differences to strengthen your organization? And what if they used those skills to improve customer service and increase your revenues? Understanding who we are as individuals and the differences in all of us can lead to impressive results in a store’s performance.

Every business owner wants to create a culture where associates can contribute their distinct talents. When combined with a customer strategy that attracts, engages and creates a loyal clientele, hiring, developing and retaining high-performing leaders makes it possible. When you understand your most valuable asset, your organization can leverage its strengths for a strategic purpose.

Laura Emerson is co-founder of Premier Human Resources, a management resource that supports the Premier Companies. She has extensive knowledge of all aspects of human resources, as well as expertise in organizational development, strategic planning, policy and procedure development, benefits and compensation, workers’ compensation, training, recruitment, hiring and accounting. Emerson holds a degree in industrial organization psychology, an area that contributes to an organization’s success by improving the performance and the well-being of its associates. She began her relationship with Premier in the late 1990s, earning Premier’s Leadership Award in 2000 and its Award of Excellence in 2001. In 2008, she was recognized by the National Association of Professional Women.

APRO’s 2017 Statistical Survey Results

GregManns_Speaker_Web_APROFuse17Greg Manns, Industry Insights
9:40–10:40 a.m.
Galleon III, Level 1

For more than 20 years, APRO’s Rent-to-Own Statistical Survey has been an important resource for both those inside the industry and outside. This unique research effort represents the most comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date comparative financial performance data available anywhere for rent-to-own professionals. It provides valuable insights, enabling rental dealers to better understand and manage their businesses. The first survey to be published since 2011 is complete and will be unveiled in Galveston.

Greg Manns is a senior vice president of Industry Insights, headquartered in Dublin, Ohio. Industry Insights’ CPAs, statisticians and IT professionals provide a variety of services to assist trade and professional associations, dealer organizations and other affiliated groups in responding to the information and education needs of their members. The company conducts benchmarking studies that focus on financial and operating performance, compensation and benefits practices, monthly/quarterly business performance and association member satisfaction. Manns has been the project director for APRO’s Rent-to-Own Statistical Survey project since 1996.

Is Your Health Care Spending Out of Control?

DavidHuerta_Speaker_Web_APROFuse17 BobDuch_Speaker_Web_APROFuse17David Huerta and Bob Duch, Cost Plus Advisors
9:40–10:40 a.m.
Yacht, Level 1

The status quo with insurance carriers is not working. Instead of reducing costs, they are adding to them, with insurance expenses far out pacing wages over the past two decades. Health care reform did nothing to help with the cost of claims. Hospital mark-ups have more than doubled the past 12 years, and this is a key reason why your insurance costs continue to escalate.

This session will show you a model that dramatically reduces hospital costs in the first year and stabilizes your expenses long term. David Huerta and Bob Duch will review certified hospital costs by department and point out the obscene mark-ups on the bill. They will also point out the gotchas in your pharmacy benefit contract and show you a way to reduce the costs of brand-name and specialty prescriptions by up to 70 percent. For example, a new Hep C treatment that is costing $100,000 can be had for less than $30,000.

There are already several rent-to-own companies successfully using these strategies and saving more than $150,000 per 100 covered employees. The strategies are so simple, you will wonder why everybody doesn’t follow them. Please note: This session is recommended for companies with at least 50 employees.

Huerta has worked in the insurance industry for more than 30 years and is recognized by clients, vendors and peers as a leader, expert and renegade. Early in his career, he was a wholesaler for two Fortune 100 insurers, where he learned the dynamics of underwriting and managed care. Huerta has been a guest lecturer on health care costs at several colleges and has spoken at numerous national conventions on cost control and health care reform.

Duch started his career more than 30 years ago and has counted three of Colorado’s top-10 privately held companies as clients. With Huerta, he founded Cost Plus Advisors, which educates employers about proven strategies to reduce their health care costs by more than 30 percent without reducing benefits or increasing employee payroll contributions.

Get the Most from Public Company Disclosures

Nick Mitchell, Northcoast Research
10:50–11:50 a.m.
Galleon I, Level 1

Get up to speed on the status of today’s rent-to-own market in comparison to the past several years, and how it fares in the overall retail environment. Learn how store-level analyses are conducted out in the field. Northcoast’s thorough research of public companies in contrast with independents will provide an eye-opening look inside the financial well-being of the industry in today’s competitive market.

Nick Mitchell is a managing director and analyst at Northcoast Research. He and his team have covered the rent-to-own industry for eight years, conducting detailed and thorough analysis on the financial health of both independent and publicly traded RTO companies. Mitchell’s work has been cited in national newspapers and websites, including The Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily. He has received the Best on the Street Award from The Wall Street Journal and was recognized by Reuters’ StarMine Analytics in 2010 as a top stock picker for the multi-line retail sector.

RTO Triage: Diagnose What Ails Your Business and Cure It!

MikeTissot_Speaker_Web_APROFuse17Mike Tissot, Countryside Rentals
10:50–11:50 a.m.
Galleon II, Level 1

You’ve come to the conclusion that certain facets of your business are making overall success too challenging, but you aren’t certain which practices are most lacking. In this session, popular rent-to-own speaker Mike Tissot will explore how to diagnose and pinpoint what ails your rent-to-own store. Whether it’s sales, collections, margins, traffic, marketing—or all of the above—once a diagnosis is determined, remedies for a rebound can be implemented successfully. This session will encourage rental dealers to be honest about the weak links in their store operations and Tissot will offer remedies that can be put into action right away.

Tissot’s warning, though: attending this session could cause an increase in deliveries. Other side effects might include, but are not limited to, higher revenues and profits. Less common side effects include drowsiness, vomiting or sometimes even death.

Tissot grew up in the rent-to-own business; his father is former APRO President Darrell Tissot. Mike’s background in marketing has helped his company, Countryside Rentals/Rent-2-Own, grow to 33 stores in Ohio and Kentucky. He is the current president of the Ohio Rental Dealers Association and recipient of APRO’s 2008 President’s Award of Excellence.

Are Bed Bugs Bugging Your Business?

NickRobards_Speaker_Web_APROFuse17Nick Robards, Robards Pest Control
10:50–11:50 a.m.
Galleon III, Level 1

Whether a mild or severe infestation, bed bugs are a huge threat to the health and safety of customers and businesses alike. Knowing how to identify, treat and prevent such infestations properly can ward off long-term monetary losses. Nick Robards will detail the necessary steps to take if an infestation is discovered, including how best to protect inventory and moving equipment.

Robards, a retired U.S. Army veteran, is a licensed and certified pest control manager in Tennessee and Kentucky. His company, Robards Pest Control, has been servicing commercial and residential clients since 2009. In addition to his 15 years as an applicator, inspector and manager, Robards has also completed more than 80 hours of certified training specifically for the treatment and prevention of bed bugs.

Payment Card Industry Compliance: Don’t Leave Your Business Open to Attack

ThomasVavrin_Speaker_Web_APROFuse17Thomas Vavrin, Process Point
10:50–11:50 a.m.
Yacht, Level 1

Payment card industry validation is required for good reason: because when payment card data is breached, the fallout happens quickly. Your customers lose trust in you and take their business elsewhere. You may experience financial penalties, damages from lawsuits and your business may even lose the ability to accept credit cards. A survey of 1,015 small- and medium-sized businesses found that 60 percent of those breached closed within six months. Validating PCI compliance is the best way to demonstrate that you are handling credit card information safely and securely. Sadly, many merchants fail to validate because the process can be confusing and cumbersome, but this session will help you better understand credit card security practices and give you ways to protect both your customers and your company.

Thomas Vavrin is the director of Audit Advantage, which offers a suite of consulting services that help businesses optimize their payment-processing programs. Vavrin has been a financial analyst for companies in the finance and education industries for two decades. In 2012, he joined ProcessPoint, the parent company of Audit Advantage, and shortly thereafter, he helped the company achieve greater than 90 percent PCI compliance within their portfolio of merchants. In the past five years, Vavrin has become an expert in payment processing costs, statement analysis and program optimization.

Secrets of Top Store Managers

A panel discussion with Keith Brock, Rent-A-Center; Jeremy England, Countryside Rentals; and Vincent Jarbo, Bestway Rent to Own
1:15–2:15 p.m.
Galleon I, Level 1

Why do some of your stores do better than others? Three top rent-to-own managers will share their formulas for creating successful and profitable stores. This enlightening panel discussion will help you gain insight into successful strategies that you can share with your own managers.

2017 RTO Legal Update

EdWinn_Speaker_Web_APROFuse17Ed Winn III, APRO Legal Counsel
1:15–2:15 p.m.
Galleon II, Level 1

Rental dealers generally are more focused on the day-to-day operations rather than on legal developments within the RTO industry, but rent-to-own remains a legally challenged entity on many fronts. In this session, Ed Winn will provide his legendary legal update, focusing on recent hot developments within the industry, a review of state and federal issues and strategies to help defend against those attacking the RTO business. Among other topics, he will discuss the anti-RTO bill introduced last fall by Representative John Delaney (D–Maryland); rent-to-own kiosks; RTO on the internet; compliance issues with rental-purchase statutes—agreements, advertising, and price tags; arbitration; mattress recycling; bed bugs; TCPA compliance; rent-to-own on the 6 o’clock news; rental thieves; and other topics that are on the minds of rental dealers across the country.

Winn has been APRO’s general counsel since the association was founded in 1980 and is considered the nation’s foremost expert on rent-to-own legal and legislative concerns. He writes feature articles and a column for every issue of RTOHQ: The Magazine.

Ignite Your Brand and Fuel Your Growth: Turning Your Website Into a Sales Machine

AndrewCatapano_Speaker_Web_APROFuse17Andrew Catapano, WOW!brands
1:15–2:15 p.m.
Galleon III, Level 1

If you’re trying to turn your rent-to-own website into a sales machine, you won’t want to miss this exciting talk from WOW!brands CEO Andrew Catapano. Discover easy-to-follow techniques—specific to the rent-to-own industry—to improve your website’s search engine optimization, pay-per-click, on-page SEO design, checkout (conversion) rate, social media reach, email marketing influence and more. You will leave this presentation with an immediate to-do list. Catapano and his team have offered rent-to-own businesses across the country innovative strategies that help their brands stand out, improve customer lead acquisition and increase conversion and customer loyalty rates.

Catapano has spent his career refining market strategies and analyzing online conversion optimization for retailers such as White House Black Market, Bebe, DSW Shoes and Value City Furniture. At age 32, he became a vice president at Value City Furniture, the youngest associate to earn that title in the company’s history. Currently the CEO and founder of WOW!brands, a leading digital agency based in Ohio, Catapano is a hands-on leader and motivational speaker responsible for the execution, measurement and online sales results of many retail brands.

Closing Session: Leading Through Uncertainty

MatthewDowd_Speaker_Web_APROFuse17Matthew Dowd, special correspondent and analyst for ABC News, bestselling author and campaign strategist
2:30–3:30 p.m.
Grand Ballroom, Level 2


At a time of immense change, disruption and dysfunction in America today, Matthew Dowd gives a road map that can help leaders navigate these uncertain times successfully—whether it’s dealing with voters, consumers or employees. Dowd, a vehement independent who has worked both sides of the aisle, has given advice to presidents, CEOs, governors, foundations and associations on how to win the hearts and minds of their constituencies. He brings more than 30 years of experience and expertise to audiences around the country, examining America’s current status and what values and strategies are necessary to achieve success. Dowd has been described as one of the most common-sense, independent and brightest minds in America. Any leader at any level who wants to move forward in an era of profound confusion and disconnection should consider his speech a must.

Dowd currently serves as a special correspondent and analyst for ABC News, where he appears on that network’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Good Morning America and Nightline, and writes regularly for the National Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and Huffington Post. He is also the author of the new book A New Way: Embracing the Paradox as We Lead and Serve, which examines the role of leadership in disruptive times, and he is the creator of the online community Listen.To.Us., which brings like-minded individuals together to discuss politics and government. With triumphant political campaigns under his belt and independence from both political parties, he uses his wealth of experience and knowledge to provide insights into how our political, economic and social institutions need to respond to the nation’s challenges. Dowd covers not only politics, but cultural, economic and spiritual trends, as well.

Over the past 20 years, Dowd has been an active entrepreneur, founding three highly successful companies, including Vianovo and Public Strategies. Recently, he launched Paradox Capital, a social-impact venture fund focused on for-profit social-good companies.

APRO’s 2017 Trade Show

Galveston Island Convention Center
9:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Wednesday, May 10sanddollar

Fuse 2017 Trade Show will feature all of the great deals on new products and services that you have come to expect from the association’s extraordinary array of RTO-industry-supporting vendors. Not only will you find great deals on the trade show floor, but once again APRO is offering rental dealers the best deals in the industry with the APRO Turbo Mania Auction. Come prepared to save some money on your second quarter purchases!

As Bestway’s Justin Kraemer says, “APRO helps give me confidence in the products that we are choosing. Getting to hear from other RTO dealers about what items are moving in their area helps us stay relevant with our product line-up.”

If you’re hungry for more than just great deals, we’ve got you covered. The Trade Show will include a complimentary champagne welcome and lunch in the exhibit hall.

The Trade Show is located in the Galveston Island Convention Center, which is next door to APRO’s host hotel, the Hilton Galveston Island Resort, and a two-block walk from the San Luis Resort, making for a convenient, accessible stroll from one locale to the other.

Click here to access APRO’s 2017 Trade Show Floor Plan

APRO 2017 Accommodations and Registration

Hilton Galveston Island Resort and San Luis Resort

APRO’s 2017 Conference Hotels, the Hilton Galveston Island Resort and the San Luis Resort, are both conveniently located near the Galveston Island Convention Center.

Available Accommodations

San Luis Resort $169
800/392-5937 [Group code APRO17]

  • Click here to book your hotel room at the San Luis

Hotel deadline: Monday, April 10, 2017
Official APRO hotel reservations will be available through APRO only. If you receive a telephone solicitation for hotel rooms, it is not from APRO! Please be sure to book your hotel only in the APRO room block to be eligible for discounted registration rates. APRO goes to great lengths to procure the lowest hotel rates for our members and booking your room outside the APRO block can have serious financial consequences for your association. If you have any questions please contact Shelley Martinek at APRO 512/225-1041 or smartinek@rtohq.org.


APRO Registration

Attendees: Click here to register online, or click here to download a registration form

Exhibitors: Click here to download an exhibitor badge and golf form

Registration deadline: Monday, April 24, 2017

APRO Member Full Registration (includes all functions except the golf tournament)

$495 With
valid hotel confirmation
$595 Without
valid hotel confirmation

Non-APRO Member Full Registration (includes all functions except the Golf Tournament)

$595 With
valid hotel confirmation
$695 Without
valid hotel confirmation

Spouse/Guest (non-industry)

$195 With
valid hotel confirmation
$195 Without
valid hotel confirmation
(This registration is available to the spouse or significant other of a full registrant. Includes all functions except the Golf Tournament.)

Limited Registration

$295 With
valid hotel confirmation
$295 Without
valid hotel confirmation
(This registration is available only to store managers and employees with one full registration from same company. Does not include Golf Tournament, Fisherman’s Wharf Gala Party, Awards Reception and Banquet.)

Exhibit Hall Only

$75 With
valid hotel confirmation
$75 Without
valid hotel confirmation
Exhibit Hall admission with lunch
(Exhibit Hall Only badge will NOT allow admission into any other APRO convention events)*Non-exhibiting vendors are prohibited from soliciting at the APRO Convention.

A La Carte Pricing (APRO member and non-member)

Tom Kitchens Golf Outing, Tuesday, May 9 $100.00
Fisherman’s Wharf Gala Party Ticket (included with all full registrations- do not purchase if you are purchasing a full registration) $150.00
Awards Banquet and Reception Ticket (included with all full registrations- do not purchase if you are purchasing a full registration) $150.00

APRO 2017 Convention Checklist


– If you are flying to Houston Hobby or Bush Intercontinental, book your flights early to get the lowest fares.  Check Google Flights or Southwest Airlines for good deals.
  • Hobby Airport is most convenient for travel to Galveston; it is located 41 miles (a 48-minute drive) north of the Island.
  • Bush Intercontinental Airport is located just 70 miles (one hour and 20 minutes driving) northwest of Galveston
  • Galveston Express, 409/762-4397, galvestonexpress.com$30 one-way from Hobby and $35 one-way from Bush
  • Download the GetMe app to arrange shared rides; use APRO’s discount code GICVB for 12percent off

– Book your room by April 10 at either of APRO’s host hotels, the Hilton Galveston Island Resort or the San Luis Resort. You will need your hotel confirmation number to get the significantly discounted convention registration rate.

– Register for the convention by April 24. You can register online or by filling out and faxing/mailing/scan-emailing the printed registration form. With valid hotel confirmation number APRO members receive full registration for just $495 per person.  See registration form for more information.

Contact Information

1504 Robinhood Trail
Austin, Texas 78703
(800) 204-2776

General inquiries about Fuse 2017:
Shelley Martinek, CMP
APRO Senior Director Member Services
(800) 204-2776, ext. 109
Email Shelley

Inquiries about exhibiting and/or advertising:
Cindy Ferguson, CEM, CMP
APRO Senior Director Sales & Marketing
(800) 204-2776, ext. 107
Email Cindy

Convention Center:
Galveston Island Convention Center
5600 Seawall Blvd.
Galveston Island, Texas 77554
(409) 941-1010

Golf Tournament:
Moody Gardens Golf Course
1700 Sydnor Lane
Galveston, TX 77554

Area Information:

Exhibitors: Click here to download an exhibitor badge and golf form

Click here for complete accommodations and registration information.

Fuse 2017: APRO's Rent-to-Own National Convention & Trade Show

If you want to create a relationship with rent-to-own buyers that will bring returns throughout the entire year, Fuse 2017: APRO’s Trade Show is an unequaled opportunity. APRO is respected as the official voice of the rent-to-own industry. Your support of, and affiliation with, the national RTO trade association puts you in an exceptional position to reach key decision-makers in the industry.

If you want to sell or launch new products and engage buyers, nothing compares to the power of face-to-face interaction at Fuse Trade Show. APRO buyers come to see furniture, appliances, electronics, jewelry and services–you name it. If it has anything to do with the rent-to-own industry, they want to see it.

From start to finish–all under one roof–it’s there. Will you be there?

More than 400 rent-to-own professionals from across the country–most of them with buying power–are expected on Galveston Island in May for networking opportunities, education and to learn about and purchase the latest products and services available to RTO companies. If you want to sell or launch new products and engage buyers in this expanding industry, nothing compares to the power of the face-to-face interactions that make this show essential. Don’t miss your opportunity to maximize exposure to key buyers in the RTO industry.

Fuse 2017 Sponsorship

One of the most effective ways to demonstrate support for rent-to-own is by becoming a sponsor of Fuse: APRO’s National Convention & Trade Show. Increase your company’s exposure, stimulate sales and increase your brand loyalty while supporting the business men and women who attend Fuse each year.

Click here for information on sponsorship opportunities

Fuse 2017 Trade Show Offers Many Advantages

  • Interact with prospects face-to-face and build relationships
  • Gain brand exposure and influence attendees’ buying decisions
  • Evaluate competitors and gather valuable market research
  • Stay up-to-date on trends and new developments
  • Network and learn from other industry professionals
  • Achieve marketing and sales objectives
  • Be a part of the rent-to-own family

Fuse 2017 Highlights

  • Two full registrations per booth
  • Year-round exposure with a free listing on APRO’s Fuse smartphone app
  • Networking opportunities at social events
  • One-day trade show–including Welcome Reception/Hot Show Auction
  • Free company listing in the Fuse 2017 Show Guide
  • Complimentary pre-registration list for pre-show marketing
  • Final post-show attendee list provided
  • Admittance to Fuse educational sessions

THE ESSENTIALS: Fuse 2017 Rent-to-Own Trade Show, May 9-11 in Galveston Island, Texas

Booth Fees

APRO associate member rates:
Standard 10 x 10 booth: $2,275
Two booths: $4,350
Three booths: $6,225
Four booths: $7,900
Five booths: $9,375
Six booths: $10,850
Four-booth island: $9,700
Six-booth island: $14,500
*$100 additional for corner booths
Non-member rates:
Standard 10 x 10 booth: $2,600
Two booths: $5,100
Three booths: $7,400
Four booths: $9,400
Five booths: $11,200
Six booths: $13,000
Four-booth island: $11,700
Six-booth island: $17,100
*$100 additional for corner booths

Exhibitor Schedule

Exhibitor Set-up:
3-8 p.m., Monday, May 8
9 a.m.-8 p.m., Tuesday, May 9
7-9 a.m., Wednesday, May 10
All exhibits must be completely ready by 9 a.m., Wednesday, May 10

Exhibit Hall Hours:
9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday, May 10

Exhibitor Tear-down:
8 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday, May 11

Exhibitor Deadlines

March 1: Fuse Show Guide advertising space reservations due
March 20: Fuse Show Guide advertising materials due
March 31: Exhibitor registration deadline

Don’t pass on profiting from the rent-to-own event of the year!

For more information regarding exhibiting at the Fuse Trade Show, contact Cindy Ferguson by e-mail or by calling (800) 204-2776, ext. 107.