The Ohio Rental Dealers Association (ORDA) held its 2019 Midwest Training Expo September 24 and 25 in Columbus, Ohio. More than 200 people filled the halls and the trade show coming together to meet vendors, learn about new products, and play a few rounds at Top Golf. “The ORDA show kicked off with a whip and a swing,” said Mike Tissot, president of Countryside Rentals (dba Rent-2-Own) and ORDA President.

Education was the main focus for both attendees and vendors as opening Keynote Speaker, John “The Whip” Davis of Corporate Action Hero, talked about the Five F’s: Fearlessly Focus with Faith and Frequency and always Follow-through. Soon after, the tradeshow was open for business as attendees visited this year’s vendors.

Randy Jones of ALMO with Ken Schimpf of Rentmark

Everyone had a chance to wrap up the day over dinner served at Top Golf. This event added some fun and lightheartedness to a busy two days and was touted as “one of the best events in their history” according to Tissot. “All vendors said they loved the engagement of folks and everyone had a great time.”

Exploring and networking on the tradeshow floor continued into day two. Attendees also had the chance to participate in training presentations from O’Rourke Sales Company, Whirlpool Corporation, and NavAir.

ORDA would like to thank the vendors and sponsors for another great Expo and look forward to what 2020 will bring. Tissot shared, “We appreciate your continued and undying vendor support. As always, we look forward to next year!”

Moriah Eberhart, APRO Membership Manager, with Mel Bennett, President of Northwest Rental Dealers Association and Owner of MHB Rent-to-own, Inc. dba Colortyme in Aberdeen, Washington.

APRO is on the GO! Our mission is to personally meet APRO members as often as we can, and learn more about their operations firsthand. APRO membership manager Moriah Eberhart recently paid a visit to two members of our rent-to-own family. Eberhart visited Mel Bennett, president of Northwest Rental Dealers Association and owner of MHB Rent-to-own, Inc. dba Colortyme in Aberdeen, Washington, and Bob Wallace, owner of Remote Support Inc., dba Remotes.com in Oregon City, Oregon.

Colortyme team from left to right: Andrew Roach, Jeremie Throp, Keith Davis and Mel Bennett

In Washington State, Eberhart met Bennett’s welcoming Colortyme team. She quickly learned about Bennett’s generous leadership style that doesn’t stop with his immaculate, organized, and well-stocked rent-to-own store. He provides meals to his weekend employees, while also hosting events that regularly provide water to the homeless population throughout the community. “His caring nature is an amazing representation of goodwill,” says Eberhart. “Mel reaches out and supports his city. He truly knows the meaning of ‘breaking bread’ with your neighbors.”

Bob Wallace, Owner of Remote Support Inc., dba Remotes.com in Oregon City, Oregon. 

While in Oregon, Wallace gave Eberhart a tour of his Remotes.com facility. Eberhart was amazed by how much the company evolved over the years. The company adapted to the challenges and innovations of online ordering without skipping a beat. “We had to face reality and stay in business, so we developed partnerships with Amazon, eBay, NewEgg, and Walmart.com,” shares Wallace. Wallace shared fun facts such as how his team developed the Redi Remote – a custom-built replacement remote.

APRO’s last member store visit was in June. Read more about APRO on the Go: Florida, Ohio, Texas.  


FRDA President Sharon Tomaszewski at FRDA 2019 Annual Business Meeting

Members of the Florida Rental Dealers Association [FRDA] are showing up big this year. After having the highest number of attendees of any state show up to advocate on behalf of the rent-to-own industry at the 2019 APRO Legislative Conference, they also hit record attendance at the FRDA annual meeting last week in Tampa, Florida. The two-day event included a welcome reception, a pub crawl benefitting the FRDA Scholarship Foundation, a vendor mingle, and a business meeting featuring presentations from FRDA President Sharon Tomaszewski, FRDA board member Chris Kale, Jr., APRO Executive Director Jill McClure, and Rick Gallegos with Dale Carnegie Training.

The start of the two days was bright as the first night of the event brought everyone together in a relaxing social setting at the welcome reception and pub crawl. Members socialized, vendors mingled, and the pirate-themed pub crawl raised $2,000 for the association’s scholarship foundation.

Following the festivities on Tuesday, Wednesday morning made way for attendees to participate in a vendor mingle. This year the association was excited to welcome eight new vendors to the show. FRDA members visited with vendors to talk about their latest, top-notch product offerings before settling down for the afternoon lunch and business meeting portion of the event.

APRO Executive Director Jill McClure provides an APRO Update at FRDA’s annual business meeting

The annual meeting opened with FRDA President, Sharon Tomaszewski, reporting on the state of the Florida association. She shared that the group has remained strong, active and financially stable. Tomaszewski added that FRDA was nationally recognized for its achievements at RTO World 2019 by being selected as one of the recipients of this year’s APRO Presidents’ Circle Award. “This award belongs to all of us because it shows that we are doing the right things to represent our industry at the highest standard in our daily operations and in our official activities, and this is something we can all be proud of,” affirms Tomaszewski.

APRO Executive Director Jill McClure spoke about supporting state associations and their sustainability through APRO’s association management services. McClure commended FRDA for having the highest attendance at the APRO Legislative Conference earlier this year and invited attendees to join in its advocacy efforts again in April 2020. She thanked and recognized Florida-based APRO board members and recently announced Emerging Leaders Council members. She also debuted the 2019 RTO World recap video sparking excitement for what is to come at RTO World 2020 to be held in Tampa, Florida.

Popular FRDA speaker Rick Gallegos returned this year with a presentation on “How to Build a Great Team.” Gallegos identified different personalities and understanding how to work best with and motivate each personality type. The afternoon ended with mini-breakout sessions facilitated by FRDA board members who led group discussions on several hot topic items.

“It truly a great meeting,” shares Tomaszewski. “Engagement was at its highest in my experience as FRDA president. Everyone participated in both contributing ideas and taking away something new that made the afternoon, and all events, a big success.”

Pictures from this year’s event can be viewed and shared by clicking HERE.

Not your average rodeo with bulls and cowboys, this rodeo hosts Delivery Techs [DTs] from more than 80 Rent One stores located across Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee in a competition for best DTs in the company! In the past, DT Rodeo competitions were divided regionally, but this year each store will participate independently. The top 10 DTs with the highest scores in the entire company will compete in the finals on October 23.

DT Rodeos encompasses training and development in a friendly competition that tests the skills required for all aspects of the job, including loading, delivering, servicing, and picking up products. Rent One vehicles are also inspected, and participants are encouraged to come with a clean, inspected and properly stocked van. Everyone is given materials to adequately prepare at least two weeks prior to their scheduled rodeo. Before the competition begins, Rent One stores may earn points by closing sales in the field, taking pictures of work, completing ROAs, and by sending before and after photos of refurbished products.

The 2019 Rent One Delivery Tech Rodeo Champion will take home a trophy, a Rent One oversized wrestling belt, and bragging rights for a full year! Participants should direct questions to their regional manager or contact Angie Brubaker, Rent One Director of Training and Development, at abrubaker@skccorp.com.

Click here to see more photos of this year’s Rent One Delivery Tech Rodeos.

Todd Homberger, ORDA Special Guest Speaker, and Moriah Eberhart, APRO Membership Manager

Tulsa, Oklahoma, was once again the host city for the Oklahoma Rental Dealers Association [ORDA] 2019 Route 66 Meeting & Tradeshow at the Hard Rock Casino Hotel. This year’s event took place on September 10 and 11 and dealt plenty of good hands. Highlights of the event included a welcome reception followed by a poker tournament, a hot show that hit $80k more in sales than last year totaling $330k, and a trade show that sold $500k for the entire show. Also on the agenda were industry presentations from Keven Dalke, Nationwide RentDirect Director; Dennis Willich, Nationwide Southwest CEO; Moriah Eberhart, APRO Membership Manager; and Todd Homberger, Buddy’s Home Furnishings Franchisee Owner.

Special guest speaker Homberger presented a training on “Achieving Organic Growth” that provided insights on how to grow your business at the store-level without having to tap into marketing dollars. Longtime ORDA supporters and event sponsors, Willich and Dalke, spent some time discussing the benefits of Nationwide membership and meeting those who had not yet met with RentDirect’s new Director, Dalke. First-time attendee, Eberhart, spoke on behalf of APRO, presenting how the association safeguard’s the industry as well as the benefits it offers its members including state association services.

Attendees enjoys a poker tournament following the annual meeting’s welcome reception

The business meeting closed with an Oklahoma state industry report from the Department of Consumer Credit. They informed the group that out of the 151 rent-to-own stores in the state, there have been zero consumer complaints and only a 10% margin of operational audit errors.

The winners of this year’s poker tournament, sponsored by Leopard Mobility, were Tim Workman, Rent 1st, first place; Mike Hale, Buddy’s Home Furnishings, second place; and Aaron Peloquin, Buddy’s Home Furnishings, third place. Prizes included Samsung Note 8, an iPhone 8, an iPad, and cash.

“Every year we come together for the same objective – to gather the troops and allow them to share ideas,” shares Clifford “Chip” Guy, ORDA President. “All of our members walked away from the annual meeting with gratitude for the exchange of knowledge and many continued side-discussions once the meeting wrapped up.”

The ORDA newly elected and re-elected directors for the 2019-2020 term are Clifford “Chip” Guy, President; JD Epley, Vice President; and Andy Sanders, Secretary.

Click here to see more photos of this year’s Route 66 Meeting & Tradeshow.

The Ohio Rental Dealers Association is looking forward to the 2019 Midwest Training Expo. More than 200 attendees are registered and the expo is sold out yet again for the events on September 24 and 25 at the Crown Plaza Columbus North! Hotel rooms are still available for last minute dealer sign-ups.

For only $40 per person, this event includes two days of the tradeshow, training, AND the evening social. The tradeshow floor will be packed with over 40 vendors featuring the latest products and services. Afterward, the highly anticipated social will take place at Top Golf.

2019 Midwest Training Expo Schedule
Tuesday, September 24
5:00 PM Welcome – Guest Speaker
5:30-7:30 PM Tradeshow
7:30-10:00 PM Top Golf Social Event

Wednesday, September 25
8-9:00 AM Breakfast
9-11:30 AM Tradeshow
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Lunch
12:30 – 4:00 PM Dealer Training

Attendees can book hotel rooms by calling the hotel at 614/885-1885. By clicking the ‘Register Now’ button at the bottom of the page, register yourself and your employees to attend. You must email or fax your registration by 10:00 AM on Wednesday, September 18, to pre-register or you can register onsite.

For registration questions, contact Tulisha Wendele, APRO Director of Finance, at 800/204-2776, twendele@rtohq.org.

For any questions about the event, please contact Joe Fischer, 330/503-6978, joe@rentfromeagle.com; Keith Ferriman, 740/383-6020, kferriman@showplacerents.com; or Mike Tissot, 740/634-2466; mtissot@r2o.com.

INRDA met for its third annual business meeting Tuesday, September 10.

The Iowa-Nebraska Rental Dealers Association [INRDA] met Tuesday, September 10, for its third annual business meeting. This year’s informative meeting included presentations from six industry speakers followed by board of directors elections, and an open discussion forum.

Along with APRO’s General Counsel, Ed Winn III, the attendees heard from Leonard Alonzo, Vice President of Sales for RES Accessories; Doug Struyk of Carney & Appleby; Karin Derry, Iowa Representative; Angie McClimon, Rental Account Manager of O’Rourke Sales Company; and Lauren Talicska, Director of RTO Client Services for wowbrands.

Winn’s legal update included the current political climate and what it could mean for the rent-to-own industry. He discussed several new laws that were enacted this year in states, although none pertaining to Iowa or Nebraska. He also touched on various lawsuits around the country and the possible impacts they could have on RTO business practices.

Representative Derry, a first term member of the Iowa House of Representatives, addressed the group. She gave them a brief bio including her inspiration for wanting to get into politics. She shared her compelling story of a decidedly non-professional politician who was determined to make her state politics run better while accomplishing more and detailed her initial reactions encountering the political process for the first time as an outsider. Dealers praised her talk and thanked her for taking time out to come visit with them.

Next, the group’s lobbyist Doug Struyk summarized some of the hot issues that had been at play in the legislature last term and how those issues played out. He spent time going over the state’s budget and how the legislature handled some difficult budgetary issues. He has been a long-time lobbyist for the Iowa Rental Dealers and is a valued member of the association.

Industry presenters included Leonard Alonzo who shared what RES Accessories does for rental dealers. Several members in the audience praised RES saying they could get better pricing and service than going to Home Depot. Angie McClimon of O’Rourke addressed the group and told them of several specials her company had for the fall, including big screen TV’s with AI technology as well as specials on several gaming systems. Lauren Talicska of wowbrands, gave a seminar showing how dealers should be handling their websites with internet marketing. She brought considerable expertise to her presentation and showed the differences between how retail stores and how RTO dealers are handling their digital marketing presence.

During the business meeting portion of the event, board members were elected for another term. The INRDA newly elected and re-elected directors are Frank Rotert, President; Jason Kunz, Vice President; Brian Luksetich, Secretary and Treasurer; and board members Tom Bernau, Mark Connelly, Brent Gregurek, Lyn Leach, John Maitland, and Ed Spuzello. Congratulations to all of these elected members!

Click here to see more photos of this year’s INRDA annual meeting. The INRDA Spring Board Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 14, 2020.

Michael Bennett, Patrick Greene, Tom Tucker, Steve Smith, Ryan Weisenfeld, and Chris Warso

Buddy’s Home Furnishings recently held its Annual Leadership Conference at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Spa in Orlando, Florida. The theme of this year’s meeting was “Data Drives Decisions.” The event highlighted the success of the “Buddy’s System,” a field-tested, datadriven system of connecting products with consumers that outperforms the industry.

“Success in today’s business environment demands precise planning and execution,” says Michael Bennett Chief Executive Officer of Buddy’s NewCo LLC. “Our commitment to our franchisees is to provide a proven, unified model that integrates historical business data, purchasing, marketing and operations.”

The general session and breakout sessions focused on sharing data from every segment of the Buddy’s System. The data shows that stores following the system consistently outperform those that do not. Representatives from Google were on hand to cover the impact of Google on the American economy underscoring how the Internet can boost sales in the RTO business model. Bennett explains, “From purchase to first rental to exit, the Buddy’s System never loses sight of its primary objective – maximizing return on investment.”

The Buddy’s Purchasing Team organized a 32,000 plus square foot trade show with more than 40 vendors. “These shows just get bigger and better every year,” said Nina Shively, Director of Purchasing. This years’ show featured a mix of core products, holiday picks and new cutting-edge inventory that will be introduced into the stores in the near future. “This was our largest show to date and our vendor-partners really brought their “A” game,” shares Bennett. Orders written at the event grew exponentially over both the 2017 and 2018 shows. A new and exciting feature introduced was the revamped Buddy’s Purchasing Portal. Each franchisee was gifted with their very own ACER tablet that they were able to use to log in to the portal and place their show orders right at the vendor booth.

The company also held its first ever “Hot Show” event. “The vendors really pulled out all the stops for this one,” said Bennett. Franchisees were able to purchase goods at even deeper discounts than ordinarily offered and the competition was fierce between franchisees to secure these specials in preparation for the 2019 holiday season.

View pictures from the leadership meeting by clicking here!

Earlier this year, we announced the new APRO Emerging Leaders Council [ELC], and introduced the inaugural members of ELC at the RTO World 2019 APRO Awards Luncheon and Business Meeting. The volunteers will be a sounding board for new ideas and will serve as ambassadors for the association and industry. APRO board members Adam Sutton and Terah Vail will serve on the council as board liaisons.

Please join us in welcoming the 2019-2020 Emerging Leaders Council and read more about them below.

Dale Anderson
Store Manager
Jaguar Holdings LLC, dba Eagle Rental

Dale Anderson, store manager of Jaguar Holdings LLC, dba Eagle Rental-Purchase, started as an account manager in 2013. Within two years, Anderson moved up the ranks to Store Manager leading one of the top producing stores in the company. He came to Eagle Rental after serving in the US Air Force for eight years in the 325th Security Force Squadron out of Tyndall Air Force Base. Anderson met his wife Porscha while they were both working for Eagle Rental-Purchase. Together, they have two children, Taylor and Dale, with another one due any day now. He attributes his success and continued development in the industry to his wife, who takes care of everything on the home front. Anderson also credits Joseph Fischer and Randy Lewis, owners of Eagle Rental-Purchase, who have taken him under their wings since day one, instilling in him their devoted work ethic and leadership.


Jessica Mahon
MarCom Manager
Countryside Rentals, dba Rent-2-Own

Jessica Mahon considers herself an idea girl and storyteller. She has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and found her place as the Marketing Communication Manager at Countryside Rentals, dba Rent-2-Own for more than five years. Mahon studied digital marketing and is certified in how to share ideas on Google and Facebook. She has been a speaker at the last two RTO World’s presenting educational sessions that include topics such as Facebook algorithm and driving traffic through social media promotions. Meeting new people comes naturally to Mahon, and learning new things is a passion. Her favorite hobbies include spending time with her friends, family, and her dog, Apollo. She also loves traveling the world, where Mahon vows to one day meet Dolly Parton.


Sachin Rama
Analytics/Inventory Management
Impact RTO Holdings, dba
Rent-A-Center

Sachin Rama began his career with Impact Properties, an investment company owned by APRO board member Shirin Kanji, in 2007 in the Hospitality division working in Operations and Hotel Management. In 2015, Rama transitioned to the newly formed retail division with the launch of Impact RTO Holdings, which acquired 40 Rent-A-Center store locations across the southeast. Over the past four years, Impact RTO has grown to be Rent-a-Center’s largest franchisee now owning and operating 75 locations. During the ramp-up period, Rama played an integral role for the company ranging from purchasing and accounting to most recently becoming the head of the Analytics and Inventory Management department. Rama holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Southeastern University and a Master of Science in Business Administration from the University of Tampa.

Rama is an active member within the rent-to-own industry and has been a part of multiple APRO, TRIB Group and Rent-A-Center conferences, best practice meetings, and panel discussions. Chosen by his peers, he was recognized with the 2019 James B. Vendors Choice Award for his dedication and support of the TRIB Group.


William Lee Rappold
Summit Capital Partners, dba
Rent-A-Center

William Lee Rappold was born and raised with a strong work ethic in Baltimore, Maryland. Rappold joined the military out of high school enlisting as a military police officer. He always wanted to help others and felt that the military would be the best vehicle to do so. Rappold served just under six years when he medically retired. After being referred by a relative in the business for over twenty years, Rappold started work at the local Rent-A-Center. He has now been with company for more than five years and has seen the store grow into the largest Rent-A-Center franchise in the country. He attributes his wife Melissa and five children as the cornerstone of his success as it would not have been possible without their love and encouragement.


Adam Stark
Partner
Happy’s Home Centers

Adam Stark began his career in the rent-to-own industry after graduating from the University of Florida in 2012.  Happy’s Home Centers had just opened its second location and was looking to grow.  Having no previous experience with RTO in any capacity, Stark came in with a second-to-none work ethic, adaptability, and willingness to learn. He felt drawn to RTO’s unique characteristic of exposing an employee to every aspect of a business. While opening Happy’s third location, Stark continued to improve on his natural skills in collections, expense control, and inventory management. More importantly, he acquired experience outside of his comfort zone in sales, marketing, and recruiting.

In 2015, Stark received the opportunity to become an equity partner in Happy’s and move to his hometown of Jacksonville, FL, to open Happy’s 7th and 9th locations. He has since moved back to Tampa to assume responsibility of Happy’s administrative and back-end functions.

Stark married his wife Melissa, in February of 2018.  He enjoys cheering for the Florida Gators and Jacksonville Jaguars, the latter with far less optimism. Both he and his wife excitedly await the birth of their first child in late September. Stark is eager to serve the industry that has provided him with a great career and an even more promising future.


Matthew Warren
Corporate Development Director
RNR Tire Express

Matthew Warren received his Master’s Degree in Management and Administration with a concentration in Curriculum Design and Implementation. He invested thirteen years in the education industry training individuals, building quality programs, and shaping learning objectives around diverse learning styles. Warren developed and executed extensive training initiatives within multiple education districts, including online content creation, technology integration, and learning management systems analysis. He currently serves as the Director of Corporate Development at RNR Tire Express helping cultivate new company growth strategies, training initiatives and culture that centers on the company purpose statement, “SERVING our customers and not just providing them customer SERVICE.”

Next Steps for ELC

Next month, the ELC will have its inaugural meeting to create the council’s charter and to discuss ideas for upcoming programs.  “We are excited about this group’s involvement and their perspectives on our industry,” says APRO Executive Director Jill McClure. “It’s a diverse group; they have varied backgrounds, and a lot to offer that will help support and advance the strategic plan set by our board of directors.”

While RTO World 2019, held early last month, featured many business innovations and product showcases, the trade show floor had the works. An RTO Works store, that is. APRO board secretary and recipient of this year’s Ernie Talley Lifetime Achievement Award David P. David—along with the help of Full-O-Pep and Countryside Rentals’ team members—created RTO Works, a 4,200-square-feet retail space designed to maximize sales opportunity in every product category.

RTO World attendees use the latest touch-screen technology to review a product catalog

RTO Works unveiled design, layout, merchandising and other innovative concepts that enhance rent-to-own stores and, in the process, attract more customers and boost sales. David and his team pulled out all the stops—from conceptualizing a real home experience to strategically showcasing smaller product offerings such as jewelry in built-in backlit counters. “The entire display was a big success,” shares David. “I hope that people left with at least one idea alone, but I think many left with several.”

So, can we expect RTO Works at RTO World 2020? “If the opportunity presented itself and it was feasible, I would say yes, but nothing is planned,” says David. “If we end of up in Indy for RTO World 2021, consider it done.”

Click here to see more photos of RTO Works.