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CoupleOnBeach_Fuse17_RTOHQJF17This is what just some of your fellow RTO professionals have to say about Fuse: APRO’s National Rent-to-Own Convention…

“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,”

 “We brought a team of 11 and they were very excited about what they saw and learned. It’s a huge shot in the arm for our team!”

 “I really appreciated the camaraderie displayed toward a ‘new guy’ like myself. The conversations I had with fellow attendees offered just the kind of in-depth discussions I was hoping for about rent-to-own business.”

“Liked how compact the schedule was.  Got a lot done in short amount of time.”

Register in 3 Easy Steps!

  1. Make your travel arrangements as soon as possible. If you are flying to Houston Hobby or Bush Intercontinental, book your flights early to get the best fares. Check www.google.com/flights.com or www.southwest.com to find the lowest fares.
    • Hobby Airport is most convenient for travel to Galveston at 41 miles, 48 minutes north of the Island.
    • Bush Intercontinental Airport is located just 70 Miles, 1 hour and 20 minutes northwest of Galveston
  2. Book your room by April 15 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.  It’s easiest to book online at www.rtohq.org or you can call the Hilton at 409/744-5000 or the San Luis at 800/392-5937.  APRO room rate is $159 at the Hilton and $169 at the San Luis and our group code is APRO17.  The Hilton is located next to the convention center; the San Luis is a short walk (about 2 blocks). (Please note: Any offers from other hotels and/or travel agencies are not endorsed by APRO and do not qualify for discounted registration.)
  3. Register with APRO for the convention by April 24. Click here to 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.

Questions?  Call APRO at 800-204-2775. 

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Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier

Galveston Island: Paradise Found

Galveston Island is home to this year’s Fuse: APRO’s National Rent-to-Own Convention & Trade Show on May 9–11. Make your plans now for your Spring trip to the beach!

While you’re in Galveston, mixing Fuse business with island pleasure will be as easy as an early-summer breeze. From the adventure pyramids of Moody Gardens to the thrills of the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, the laid-back vibe and gorgeous surroundings will thaw your winter blues. Learn about Galveston’s unique history at an impressive variety of museums, such as Bishop’s Palace, an historic 18th-century Victorian mansion, or the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa and the adjacent Texas Seaport Museum. On Galveston Island, even shopping and dining are cultural experiences. The Historic Downtown Strand Seaport District features beautiful Victorian storefronts with unique shops, restaurants and art galleries just a short walk from Galveston’s Pier 21 and glistening harbor, the site of APRO’s 2017 Gala at Fisherman’s Wharf.

BeachBall_CircleA_Galveston_Fuse17_RTOHQND16Check out the details here, then register for Fuse 2017 and book your travel and accommodations as soon as possible for a memorable paradise get-away in the Gulf Coast. Don’t forget your sunscreen, swimsuit and flip-flops—come May, it’s island time!

Click here for information on Galveston Island.
Click here to watch a video on Galveston Island.

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Catie McDonal House FireRent One’s Store Manager Catie McDonald experienced a fire in her home last week that resulted in the loss of her house along with all of her possessions. Fortunately, there were no injuries however she and her family are faced with starting over. “Treasure what you have because it can be lost in minutes, literally,” shared Catie. “I’m trying my best to just hang in there. I even came into work the following day. What else can you do?”

Rent One worked quickly to help their colleague. “We have a tradition of rallying around our own in need and have found a way that has been successful over the years,” said APRO Treasurer and Rent One President Trent Agin. They shared the news with Rent One associates and allowed them to pledge a contribution through payroll deductions and as of Monday they had raised over to $4000 from over 140 associates along with a $1000 contribution from APRO Past President and Rent One Owner Larry Carrico. “People are kind. When they understand a need and we give them a channel to give they are quick to garner support.”

Catie’s oldest daughter created a gofundme account for her family’s loss with a goal of $1000.

The page reads: Tonight the house that my mom and little brother and sister live in burned down in Vincennes, Indiana due to a stove fire. Luckily both her and her boyfriend came out of it unharmed, and my brother and sister were at their dads. Unfortunately, they lost everything. The house is completely gone. Any little bit counts that anyone can donate. My entire family appreciates it from more than anyone can know. Thank you.

Help spread the word!

Click here to donate today.

Catie McDonald’s contact information:
812-882-5082
catiemcdonald@rocketmail.com

image001AcceptanceNOW, a nationwide pioneer in the operation of rent-to-own kiosks within third-party retail outlets, recently announced that, beginning next month, it is the exclusive no-credit-needed payment option for Rooms To Go. 

“We are excited that Rooms To Go has chosen AcceptanceNOW as their exclusive no-credit-needed provider,” said Mark Denman, executive vice president of AcceptanceNOW.  “Rooms To Go is a top notch retailer, and we are pleased to be their exclusive choice.”

Over the years AcceptanceNOW has partnered with Rooms To Go in offering a no-credit-needed payment option for their customers.  The exclusivity will strengthen the partnership and will continue driving value for the customer. 

“Rooms To Go has always provided the best payment options available to our customers.  After listening carefully to what our customers prefer, we have chosen AcceptanceNOW as the only no credit needed payment option platform within our stores. AcceptanceNOW’s staffed model has been important to our growth and helped us focus on offering customers the right furnishings at the right price with attractive and easy-to-use payment options,” said Peter Engert, Director of Credit Operations for Rooms To Go.  

With over 140 locations, in 10 states and Puerto Rico, Rooms To Go is America’s #1 independent furniture company with the nation’s largest furniture inventory.  Rooms To Go offers stylish furniture at everyday low prices, original room packages, superior service and fast delivery.  The retailer is also the leader in children’s furniture through its Rooms To Go Kids chain and offers the widest array of themed room packages for children in the United States. For more information about the company, please visit www.roomstogo.com.

AcceptanceNOW, a division of Rent-A-Center, Inc. (NASDAQ/NGS:RCII), a rent-to-own industry leader, operates 1900 rent-to-own kiosks in third-party retail stores across the country.

Media Contact:
Gina Hethcock, Rent-A-Center, Inc.
Ph: 972-801-1424
Email: gina.hethcock@rentacenter.com

b5870678-d5ed-4c7e-96fb-b5b98e02d45aYou asked…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 covers 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.

For area information, click here.

Choices, choices, choices!

APRO will offer two hotel choices for 2017.  The San Luis Resort is a world-class beauty that offers luxurious accommodations just a few blocks walk from the convention center.  The Hilton Galveston Island Resort is equally as lovely and located just next door to the convention center. Both offer complimentary parking and great dining options.

For hotel rates and reservations, click here.

Education

APRO’s RTO Education Day is THE #1 resource for top education in the rent-to-own industry. 

The 2017 education schedule will be available soon.  There is a discounted “Limited Registration” for those who want to take advantage of the education but not attend the full convention.

For registration pricing, click here. 

Trade Show

The APRO Exhibit Hall is known for offering some great deals to our rental dealers.  Back by popular demand is the Turbo Auction & Welcome Reception with unbelievable deals to kick off the convention.

For exhibit hall floor plan, click here.

One low registration rate of $495 includes all of these events

  • General Session with continental breakfast
  • Awards Reception & Banquet
  • Gala Party at Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Turbo Auction & Welcome Reception
  • Exhibit Hall admission with lunch
  • Education Day with breakfast and lunch
  • (Golf tournament not included)

Click here to register today!  

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aaronsAaron’s, Inc. (NYSE: AAN), a leading omnichannel provider of lease-purchase solutions, today announced financial results for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2016. Aaron’s Inc. “Company” conducts its operations through three primary businesses: 1) Aaron’s branded lease-to-own stores and Aarons.com; 2) the Progressive virtual lease-to-own business; and 3) Dent-A-Med, Inc. “DAMI”, our second-look financing business. Going forward, we will refer to our Aaron’s branded lease-to-own stores and Aarons.com as our “Aaron’s Business,” which we formerly referred to as our “Core” business.

“2016 was another strong year for the Company. We served more customers than in any year in the Company’s history and delivered record financial performance,” said John Robinson, Chief Executive Officer. “The results reflect disciplined execution across an omnichannel platform that spans retail stores, e-commerce and virtual lease-to-own.”

“Earnings for 2016 were driven by outstanding performance at Progressive,” continued Mr. Robinson. “Favorable lease portfolio performance generated improved profitability for Progressive, and strong door growth contributed to a double-digit increase in invoice volume. We’re excited about the prospects for Progressive as we enter 2017.”

“During 2016, we took aggressive action in the Aaron’s Business to strengthen our management team, reduce costs, and increase our focus on execution in our stores and on Aarons.com,” Mr. Robinson stated. “We continue to innovate our model to drive revenue while maintaining a disciplined approach to right-sizing our store base and managing our expenses.”

“We significantly strengthened our balance sheet in 2016, which provides us with the financial flexibility to continue to invest in our business and return excess capital to shareholders. In 2016, we returned nearly $42 million to our shareholders through stock repurchases and cash dividends. The Company ended the year with $309 million in cash and a net debt to capitalization ratio of 9.6%, with 9.1 million shares remaining on our existing share repurchase authorization,” Mr. Robinson concluded.

Financial Summary
For the fourth quarter of 2016, Company revenues, which includes the Aaron’s, Progressive and DAMI businesses, decreased 3.2% to $795.0 million compared with $821.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2015. Net earnings were $21.6 million compared with $21.7 million in the prior year period. Diluted earnings per share were $0.30 in both periods. The effective tax rate for the three months ended December 31, 2016 was 33.0% compared with 36.8% for the prior year period.

On a non-GAAP basis, net earnings for the fourth quarter of 2016 were $36.3 million compared with $29.8 million for the same period in 2015, and earnings per share assuming dilution were $0.50 in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to $0.41 for the same quarter in 2015. In 2016, non-GAAP net earnings and non-GAAP diluted earnings per share exclude the effects of amortization expense resulting from our 2014 acquisition of Progressive, a gain related to the sale of our HomeSmart business and Aaron’s Business restructuring charges. In 2015, non-GAAP net earnings and non-GAAP diluted earnings per share exclude the effects of amortization expense resulting from our 2014 acquisition of Progressive, transaction costs related to the October 2015 DAMI acquisition and a loss due to a lease termination on a Company aircraft. See “Use of Non-GAAP Financial Information” and the related non-GAAP reconciliation accompanying this press release.

Adjusted EBITDA for the Company, which excludes the aforementioned charges and adjustments, was $73.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2016, compared with $67.4 million for the same period in 2015. See “Use of Non-GAAP Financial Information” and the related non-GAAP reconciliation accompanying this press release.

During fiscal year 2016, revenues increased 0.9% to $3.208 billion compared with $3.180 billion for the prior year. Net earnings were $139.3 million versus $135.7 million last year. Diluted earnings per share were $1.91 compared with $1.86 per share a year ago.

On a non-GAAP basis, net earnings for fiscal year 2016 were $167.7 million compared with $157.0 million for 2015 and diluted earnings per share were $2.30 compared with $2.15 in 2015. Non-GAAP net earnings and non-GAAP diluted earnings per share in 2016 exclude the effects of amortization expense resulting from the 2014 acquisition of Progressive, a gain on the sale of the Company’s headquarters building, retirement and severance charges, a loss resulting from the Company’s sale of its HomeSmart business and the Aaron’s Business restructuring. In 2015, non-GAAP results exclude the effects of Progressive amortization, the transaction costs related to the October 2015 DAMI acquisition and a loss due to a lease termination on a Company aircraft. See “Use of Non-GAAP Financial Information” and the related non-GAAP reconciliation accompanying this press release.

Adjusted EBITDA for the Company, which excludes the aforementioned other charges and adjustments, was $342.5 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2016 compared with $323.8 million for the same period in 2015. See “Use of Non-GAAP Financial Information” and the related non-GAAP reconciliation accompanying this press release.

The Company generated $465.4 million in cash from operations during 2016 and ended the year with $308.6 million in cash compared with $14.9 million at the end of 2015.

Aaron’s Business Results
For the fourth quarter of 2016, total revenues for the Aaron’s Business decreased 14.5% to $463.5 million from $542.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. Total revenues for fiscal year 2016 decreased 8.5% to $1.946 billion compared with $2.127 billion for fiscal year 2015.

On May 13, 2016, the Company completed the sale of its HomeSmart business. Revenues for the HomeSmart business through May 13, 2016 were $25.4 million. Revenues for the HomeSmart business were $15.8 million and $63.2 million, respectively, for the fourth quarter and twelve months ended December 31, 2015. Excluding the sale of HomeSmart, total revenues for the Aaron’s Business decreased 12.0% and 6.9% for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2016, respectively. Lease revenue and fees for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2016 decreased 6% and 3.4%, respectively, excluding the sale of HomeSmart. Non-retail sales, which primarily consist of merchandise sales to the Company’s franchisees, decreased 29.5% for the fourth quarter and 20.7% for the twelve months of 2016, compared with the prior-year periods.

Earnings before income taxes for the Aaron’s Business was $4.8 million and $123.0 million for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2016, respectively, compared with $26.6 million and $160.6 million for the same periods a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA in the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2016 was $32.4 million and $191.2 million, respectively, compared with $42.9 million and $215.8 million for the same periods a year ago. As a percentage of revenue, Adjusted EBITDA was 7.0% and 9.8% for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2016, respectively, compared with 7.9% and 10.1% for the same periods in 2015. Write offs for damaged, lost or unsaleable merchandise were 4.6% of revenues in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 4.7% for the same period last year.

Same store revenues (revenues earned in Company-operated stores open for the entirety of both quarters) decreased 5.8% during the fourth quarter of 2016, compared with the fourth quarter of 2015, and customer count on a same store basis was down 4.2%. Company-operated Aaron’s stores had 973,000 customers at December 31, 2016, a 6.0% decrease from the end of 2015, excluding HomeSmart customers for both periods.

At December 31, 2016, the Company had 1,165 Company-operated stores and 699 franchised stores. During the fourth quarter of 2016, 61 Company-operated stores and four franchised stores were consolidated or closed. Two Company-operated stores were sold to a third party.

As discussed previously, the Company has undertaken a review of its store base to identify underperforming stores and right size its footprint in existing markets. As part of that review, in addition to closing 61 stores in the fourth quarter of 2016 and consolidating their customer accounts into other stores, the Company has identified approximately 70 additional stores to be closed in the second quarter of 2017. The Company may decide to close additional stores in future periods.

The decision to close approximately 70 stores in the second quarter of 2017 resulted in a pre-tax charge of approximately $2.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. The Company expects to incur an additional pre-tax charge of approximately $13 million in the second quarter of 2017 with respect to the stores that have been identified for closure.

Progressive Results
Progressive’s revenues in the fourth quarter of 2016 increased 17.3% to $324.0 million from $276.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. Progressive’s revenues for the twelve months ended December 31, 2016 were $1.238 billion compared with $1.050 billion in the prior year period. Active doors increased 36% in the fourth quarter of 2016 to approximately 18,000. Invoice volume per active door declined 13% in the quarter, driven by strong growth in new doors. Progressive had 598,000 customers at December 31, 2016, a 17% increase from December 31, 2015.

Earnings before income taxes for Progressive was $29.0 million and $104.7 million for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2016, respectively, compared with $9.8 million and $54.5 million for the same periods a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2016 was $41.7 million and $155.5 million, respectively, compared with $25.5 million and $109.0 million for the same periods of 2015. As a percentage of revenues, Adjusted EBITDA was 12.9% and 12.6%, respectively, for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2016, compared with 9.2% and 10.4% for the same periods in 2015. Write offs for damaged, lost or unsaleable merchandise were 5.9% of revenues in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 7.1% in the same period of 2015.

DAMI Results
Revenues for DAMI were $7.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 and $24.1 million for the 2016 fiscal year. DAMI’s loss before income taxes was $1.6 million and $9.3 million for the three and twelve months ending December 31, 2016, respectively. Its pre-tax, pre-provision loss was $552,000 in the fourth quarter of 2016 and $3.6 million for the year.

Pre-tax, pre-provision loss is a non-GAAP measure that represents loss before income taxes adjusted so that loan charge-offs and recoveries are recognized in earnings as they occur by excluding the effect on earnings of changes to management’s provision for estimated future loan losses. Results for DAMI were in line with expectations. See “Use of Non-GAAP Financial Information” and the related non-GAAP reconciliation accompanying this press release for more information regarding the calculation of pre-tax, pre-provision loss.

Significant Components of Revenue
Consolidated lease revenues and fees for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2016 increased 1.5% and 3.6%, respectively, over the same prior year periods. In addition, franchise royalties and fees decreased 13.3% in the fourth quarter of 2016 and 8.1% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2016 compared to the same periods a year ago. The decrease in franchise royalties and fees was the combined result of decreases in revenues generated by our franchisees and the number of franchised stores. Our franchisee revenue totaled $214.0 million in the fourth quarter and $917.1 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2016, a decrease of 10.3% and 5.7%, respectively, from the same periods for the prior year. Same store revenues for franchised stores were down 7.3% and same store customer counts were down 2.3% for the fourth quarter of 2016 compared with the same quarter for the prior year. Franchised stores had 544,000 customers at the end of 2016, a 6.4% decline from the prior period (revenues and customers of franchisees are not revenues and customers of the Aaron’s Business or Aaron’s, Inc.).

2017 Outlook
The Company is providing the following outlook for the 2017 year. Diluted earnings per share is presented both on a GAAP basis and on a non-GAAP basis excluding Progressive-related intangible amortization and any future one-time or unusual items. Adjusted EBITDA also excludes any future one-time or unusual items. The Company currently expects to achieve the following:

Aaron’s Inc. (Consolidated)

  • Revenues of approximately $3.10 billion to $3.31 billion, excluding revenues of franchisees.
  • Adjusted EBITDA of $320 million to $353 million.
  • GAAP diluted earnings per share in the range of $1.85 to $2.10.
  • Non-GAAP diluted earnings per share in the range of $2.15 to $2.40.
  • Capital expenditures of $60 million to $80 million.
  • Operations of both the Aaron’s Business and Progressive are expected to generate positive cash flow.

Aaron’s Business

  • Total revenues of approximately $1.68 billion to $1.78 billion, including lease revenues of $1.30 billion to $1.40 billion.
  • Same store revenues of approximately negative 12% to negative 8%.
  • Adjusted EBITDA of approximately $155 million to $170 million.
  • The above outlook includes the impact of the closure of approximately 70 stores in the second quarter of 2017.
  • The Company will continue to evaluate its store base for strategic growth and consolidation opportunities.

Progressive

  • Total revenues of approximately $1.40 billion to $1.50 billion.
  • EBITDA of $170 million to $185 million.

DAMI

  • Total revenues of approximately $25 million to $35 million.
  • EBITDA of approximately negative $5 million to negative $2 million.

Conference Call and Webcast
Aaron’s, Inc. will hold a conference call to discuss its quarterly and full-year financial results on Friday, February 17, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The public is invited to listen to the conference call by webcast accessible through the Company’s Investor Relations website, investor.aarons.com. The webcast will be archived for playback at that same site.

About Aaron’s, Inc.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Aaron’s, Inc. (NYSE: AAN), is a leading omnichannel provider of lease-purchase solutions. Aaron’s Business engages in the sales and lease ownership and specialty retailing of furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories through its more than 1,860 Company-operated and franchised stores in 47 states and Canada as well as its e-commerce platform Aarons.com. In addition, Progressive Leasing, a virtual lease-to-own company, provides lease-purchase solutions through approximately 22,000 retail locations in 46 states. Dent-A-Med, Inc., d/b/a the HELPcard®, provides a variety of second-look credit products that are originated through federally insured banks. For more information, visit investor.aarons.com, Aarons.com, ProgLeasing.com, and HELPcard.com.

“Safe Harbor” Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Statements in this news release regarding our business that are not historical facts are “forward-looking statements” that involve risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements generally can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology, such as “may,” “expect,” “expectations,” “outlook,” “forecast,” “guidance,” “intend,” “believe,” “could,” “project,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “should” and similar terminology. These risks and uncertainties include factors such as changes in general economic conditions, competition, pricing, legal and regulatory proceedings, customer privacy, information security, customer demand, the execution and results of our strategy and expense reduction and store closure and consolidation initiatives, risks related to Progressive’s “virtual” lease-to-own business, the outcome of Progressive’s pilot or test programs with various retailers and the results of Progressive’s efforts to expand its relationships with existing retailer partners and establish new partnerships with additional retailers, and the other risks and uncertainties discussed under “Risk Factors” in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2015. Statements in this release that are “forward-looking” include without limitation: Aaron’s projected results (including Progressive’s results) and guidance for 2017, the number of stores the Company expects to close in the second quarter of 2017 and the charges expected to be incurred in connection therewith, and management’s capital allocation plans. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this press release. Except as required by law, the Company undertakes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances after the date of this press release.

Click here for the full report.

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Jim and Debbie Brown with KA 03 Congressman Kevin Yoder

The rent-to-own industry celebrated its 22nd Legislative Conference with a mix of RTO owners, operators and family members meeting with their members of Congress and enjoying the Capitol City.

APRO held its first legislative conference in the Winter of 1994 and ever since APRO members have developed some of the most long lasting grassroots relationships with their members of Congress and this year was no different. More than 100 meetings were had with U.S. House members and Senators that began Wednesday morning, February 8th through Thursday afternoon, February 9th.

Since there wasn’t any legislative action pending that would directly affect the rent-to-own industry at this time, meetings were treated as “meet-and-greet” educational meetings. Attendees provided candid and honest information about the rent-to-own business – what it means to customers, employees and the local economy. They expressed their history with the business like Louis Bacile who shared that RTO was his first job and has been involved with RTO for 33 years during his meeting with LA 6 Congressman Garret Graves.

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Arkansas and Illinois rental dealers met with Arkansas Senator John Boozman.

With new administration brings new opportunity and major points of interest that were discussed were healthcare and small business issues. Members of Congress forecasted where they saw the industry going and discussed if there were any new developments or legislative initiatives that would directly affect the rent-to-own industry. Gary Ferriman met with OH 04 Congressman Jim Jordan who shared that he was cautiously optimistic about the future and the state of the Rent-to-Own industry in the current political climate. United States Senator for Arkansas John Boozman expressed the same sentiment, when it comes to RTO there is little concern.

“The rent-to-own industry owes a great debt of gratitude to every APRO member who attends the Legislative Conference. Most legislation that would negatively affect the industry stems from misunderstanding from legislators. So educating them face-to-face about the benefits their business provides to customers and the local economy is vitally important to the industry today and the future,” APRO’s Deputy Executive Director Richard May.

This year’s Legislative Conference could not have been such a success without the generous sponsorships from RentDirect Nationwide and TRIB Group.

Click here to see more photos of APRO’s 2017 Dave Egan Legislative Conference.

Click here to read more coverage on APRO’s 2017 Dave Egan Legislative Conference.

IL 13 Congressman Rodney Davis, IL 18 Darin LaHood

IL 13 Congressman Rodney Davis, IL 18 Darin LaHood, Trent Agin, Larry Carrico, Casey Pristou, Brent Gregurek and David Keen.

Rent One’s, Larry Carrico, Trent Agin and David Keen, and Arona Corporation’s Brent Gregorek, joined IRDA President, Casey Pristou, in meeting with members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation to discuss rent-to-own, provide an update on the industry in Illinois and highlight key issues important to its dealers, customers and business partners.  The effort was part of APRO’s 2017 Dave Egan Legislative Conference held February 7th – 9th.

The impact of RTO in Illinois is significant.  Illinois is home to more than 220 rent-to-own stores, serves more than 120,000 customers each month and employs more than 1,300 statewide. Moreover, the RTO industry is undergoing a number of dramatic changes which present intriguing growth opportunities for the small business owners who operate most of the stores in Illinois.  The IRDA shared its vision of how it can grow the industry in the years ahead and how congress may be able to help foster this growth.

IL 10 Congressman Brad Schneider

Casey Pristou, David Keen, Larry Carrico, IL 10 Congressman Brad Schneider, Trent Agin and Brent Gregurek.

Collectively the IRDA met with the offices of both senators and with 16 of the 18 congressional districts.  “The legislative conference this year was one of the best we have ever had,” commented David Keen.  “These meetings were a great follow-up to the very successful grassroots outreach the IRDA conducted in 2016 during which members of congress visited rent-to-own stores operating in their home districts,” observed Larry Carrico.   A highlight of this year’s conference was the open house breakfast the IRDA hosted at Tortilla Coast.  “D.C. is especially busy and quite charged-up this year.  Legislators’ schedules are jam-packed.  The breakfast was an efficient way for some members to meet with us,” related Casey Pristou.  “The breakfast enabled us to have serious discussions with key members of congress and their staff that would have otherwise been impossible,” Pristou added.

Click here to see more photos of APRO’s 2017 Dave Egan Legislative Conference.

About IRDA
The Illinois Rental Dealers Association (IRDA) works closely with the Association of Progressive Rental Organizations (APRO) to provide membership and the general public with the latest information regarding legislative initiatives concerning the rent-to-own industry. The IRDA works to ensure a vital future for its industry through networking, education, political outreach and legislative vigilance.

[SUBJECTS] seen at [EVENT NAME] at [VENUE] on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017, in Granville, WV. (Ed Rieker/AP Images for Aaron's Inc.)

(L to R) Anthony Harper and Jasmine Dobbs pictured with Aaron’s Director of Franchise Operations Ray Muncy. The Dobbs family of Granville, West Virginia, was recently surprised as the grand prize winner of the “Big Blue Bow Home Makeover”.

Aaron’s, Inc. (NYSE: AAN), a leader in the sales and lease ownership and specialty retailing of furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories, delivered and installed a complete home makeover for the Dobbs family of Granville, West Virginia, who was recently surprised as the grand prize winner of the “Big Blue Bow Home Makeover” on “The Wendy Williams Show.”

The home makeover is part of Aaron’s continued partnership with “The Wendy Williams Show” and Aaron’s holiday promotion, the “Big Blue Bow Event,” with shopping deals and big-prize giveaways, including nearly 1,435 giant stockings stuffed with toys and games, cash prizes of up to $5,000, and a 2017 Kia Forte EX delivered to a lucky customer’s home.

The Dobbs family, including Anthony, Jasmine and their son Zaylen, were surprised on the December 9th episode of “The Wendy Williams Show” with new furniture, appliances and electronics from Aaron’s. The home makeover was displayed on the show’s stage wrapped in a big blue bow as a nod to the “Big Blue Bow Event.”

The Dobbs recently moved into their first home but have struggled to pay bills and student loans and could not afford a washer and dryer or to replace a worn-out living room set. Before moving into their new home, the Dobbs were living in a smaller townhouse. The couple works fulltime, Anthony as an assistant director for the local parks and recreation department and Jasmine as a paralegal who also is studying for her master’s degree in project management.

“It’s heartwarming to see a deserving family receive a really special home makeover and Aaron’s is grateful to be able to make this happen in partnership with Wendy Williams,” said John Robinson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aaron’s, Inc. “The Dobbs family now has a newly refreshed home for their family and will enjoy coming home every day to a modern and completely furnished household.”

During “The Wendy Williams Show” surprise presentation in December, the studio audience got another big surprise, with each of them receiving a free Woodhaven mattress from Aaron’s. For more than three decades, Woodhaven has set the standard for superior quality and affordability with their handcrafted, American-made furniture.

About Aaron’s, Inc.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Aaron’s, Inc. (NYSE: AAN), a leading omnichannel provider of lease-purchase solutions was founded in 1955, has been publicly traded since 1982, and owns the Aaron’s, Progressive Leasing and HELPcard brands. Aaron’s engages in the sales and lease ownership and specialty retailing of furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories through its more than 1,860 Company-operated and franchised stores in 47 states and Canada as well as its e-commerce platform Aarons.com. Progressive Leasing, a virtual lease-to-own company, provides lease-purchase solutions through approximately 19,000 retail locations in 46 states. Dent-A-Med, Inc., d/b/a the HELPcard®, provides a variety of second-look credit products that are originated through a federally insured bank.  For more information, visit investor.aarons.com, Aarons.com, ProgLeasing.com, and HELPcard.com.

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Arkansas and Illinois Rental Dealers met with Arkansas Senator John Boozman

Nearly 100 APRO members met February 8-9 in Washington, D.C., for the 2017 Dave Egan Legislative Conference. RTO representatives headed to capitol hill to meet with members of Congress about their businesses, the nature of the rent-to-own transaction and most importantly building constituent relationships that have been nurtured over the years at the industry’s most important political event of the year.

The two-day event kicked off with a briefing and breakfast sponsored by TRIB Group at The National Republican Club of Capitol Hill. Members swarmed in, gathered their APRO 2017 Dave Egan Legislative Conference pins and packets and commiserated before a hot buffet breakfast. APRO’s Executive Director Bill Keese and APRO’s President Mark Connelly gave a warm welcome before an informational briefing provided by APRO’s Deputy Executive Director Richard May, APRO’s Legal Counsel Ed Winn and APRO Board Member Matt Grynwald. Members were given tips and outlines for their congressional meetings before heading out for the day. Over 100 meetings were scheduled in efforts to forge relationships, ensure that rental stores remain open and that satisfied customers continue to embrace the rent-to-own transaction.

DSC01092After a long day of meetings members gathered for a reception and dinner at the immaculate Mansion on O Street sponsored by RentDirect Nationwide. The unique evening began with a self-guided tour of this amazing home and museum, followed by dinner. APRO’s President Mark Connelly and APRO Board Member Sandi Frye handed out special Dave Egan Legislative Conference pins to State Association Presidents in attendance. APRO’s Immediate Past President Gary Ferriman and APRO Board Member Jamie Slatton gave a special toast to APRO’s Executive Director Bill Keese honoring his dedication to the RTO industry over the years.

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APRO’s Immediate Past President Gary Ferriman with Congressmen Jim Jordan (OH-04).

Members spent the last day of the conference meeting with members of congress before heading back home. APRO’s 2017 Dave Egan Legislative Conference was truly a memorable time. Stay tuned for more coverage on the congressional meetings.

Click here to read more about the conference.

Click here to see more photos.