Aaron’s, Inc. announced that the company’s board of directors has approved a new share repurchase program authorizing management to repurchase up to $500 million of the company’s outstanding common stock. In light of the new repurchase program, the company has discontinued its previous share repurchase program.

“In 2017, we generated record sales and earnings and strengthened our balance sheet by reducing our debt $135 million,” says Aaron’s Chief Executive Officer John Robinson. “We also increased our dividend for the fifteenth consecutive year and repurchased nearly two million shares of stock. The decision to authorize the new repurchase program is part of our capital allocation strategy, which reflects our expectation for strong cash flow generation over the next few years.”

Under the new repurchase program, the company may repurchase shares from time to time on the open market or through privately negotiated transactions. Repurchases of shares may be made under a Rule 10b5-1 plan, which would permit repurchases when the company might otherwise be precluded from doing so under insider trading laws. The extent to which the company repurchases its shares and the timing of such purchases will depend upon market conditions and other corporate considerations, as determined by the company’s management. The company is not obligated to acquire any particular number of shares and the program may be suspended or discontinued at any time.

For more information about Aaron’s Inc., visit http://investor.aarons.com/.

Following the close of a record-breaking year including its 100th store opening, RNR Tire Express, a leader in rent-to-own custom wheels, recently was named to Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 list. Recognized for outstanding performance in unit growth, financial strength and stability, RNR ranked first in the wheel and tire category and 202 overall, entering the year primed for further brand power.

For the first time in 25 years, more than 1,000 companies applied to be a part of the annual ranking making it one of the most competitive standings Entrepreneur has ever seen. Known as the world’s first and primary research measure of comprehensive franchise ranking, the Franchise 500® is a highly sought-after honor in the industry. The concepts that rose to the top reveal the top franchise opportunities backed by proven systems and results.

“We are truly honored to be ranked in the Franchise 500, and to top our category further validates the successful evolution of our brand and established franchise model,” states RNR Tire Express Founder Larry Sutton. “RNR has made tremendous strides as a company by working closely with our franchise partners to influence important brand decisions, leading to our significant growth over the past fifteen years.”

The growing demand for flexible pay-as-you-go concepts has been seen through RNR’s impressive 26 percent YTD increase for same-store installations, defined by the brand’s 44 percent increase in store openings. As a leading provider of rent-to-own tires and custom wheels, the franchise seeks qualified multi-unit franchisees to fuel continuous growth with projections to open 35 new stores in 2018, on pace to reach its 300-unit milestone by 2024.

Alongside its recognition as a top franchise opportunity, the brand was ranked 29 on Franchise Gator’s annual list of the Top 100 Fastest Growing franchise concepts. Founded in 2000, RNR has since grown to more than 110 locations in 21 states. The brand has experienced significant organic growth with just 24 franchisees operating across the nation.

For more information about RNR and its franchise opportunities, visit www.rnrfranchise.com

Rental dealers and vendors from across the country gathered last week in Washington, D.C. for the 2018 APRO Legislative Conference. The RTO constituents convened at the nation’s capital to educate members of Congress on the rent-to-own industry, ensuring they understand the nature of the business, the communities they serve and the impact the industry makes on their communities.

More than 100 meetings were held on Capitol Hill February 7-9, between RTO professionals from 19 different states and their representatives in the House and Senate. In total, meetings were held with 80 Congressional offices and 25 Senate offices.

Joe Hickey, Larry Carrico, Jill McClure, Apu Naik, David Keen and Trent Agin met with Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL, 8th District) on Wednesday, February 7, at the 2018 APRO Legislative Conference.

On Wednesday, February 7, Rent One’s Larry Carrico, David Keen and Trent Agin, Audit Advantage‘s Joe Hickey, APRO Executive Director Jill McClure and APRO Director of Government Relations Apu Naik met with Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL, 8th District) regarding, among other things, the nature of the RTO industry in Illinois. “The Congressman already knew Gopal Reddy and had visited several of his Aaron’s Stores in Illinois, and was therefore very knowledgeable of the rent-to-own industry, along with the economic impact our industry has within the state of Illinois,” says David Keen. “As a small businessman himself, he asked a variety of questions on how Congress can further enhance the growth of small business.” During the meeting, Krishnamoorthi asked for support on a bill he was sponsoring, which the Rent One team felt was more than a worthy cause to advocate for. “Representative Krishnamoorthi mentioned the sponsorship of HR 2353 Perkins Career and Technical Education Program, which passed with bipartisan support in the House and was currently under consideration in the Senate,” according to Keen. “This bill is important to our industry, as it invests in both career and technical education and will help prepare our workers, so they can compete in today’s workforce.”

David Kaye met with Congresswoman Illena Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL, 27th District) on Thursday, February 8, at the 2018 APRO Legislative Conference.

Congresswoman Illena Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL, 27th District) met with Benefit Marketing Solutions David Kaye on Thursday, February 8, to discuss the RTO transaction in Florida. “Representative Ros-Lehtinen fully embraced the RTO industry and was very positive in her comments regarding our business model,” says Kaye. “We can only hope that this support continues after her departure this year.” With Representative Lehtinen not seeking reelection in 2018, Florida’s 27th district will be one to watch closely.

Across the capital complex in the Senatorial offices, JR Squared Enterprises, dba. Premier Rental Purchase’s Jim Ratner took the opportunity to strengthen a longstanding relationship with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) on Thursday, February 8. “I’ve been meeting with Senator Collins every year for the last 10 years,” recalls Ratner. “Her family owns a small business in Maine. She is receptive to our issues and I feel that she would be an advocate for our industry if either federal legislation gets some traction or if something that may have a negative impact on our industry was coming down the pike.”

Jim Ratner and John Reichenbach met with Susan Collins (R-ME) on Thursday, February 8, at the 2018 APRO Legislative Conference.

This year’s industry message to legislators focused on informing members of Congress on the rent-to-own industry to avoid misunderstandings and mischaracterizations of the RTO transaction. “If and when future legislative issues arise, we want to make sure our legislators are informed about our industry and know that they have constituents to contact if they have any questions or concerns,” says APRO Director of Government Relations Apu Naik.

Click here to view more photos of this years Legislative Conference.

Trent Agin, David Keen, Congressman Rodney Davis, Congressman Mike Bost, Larry Carrico and APRO Executive Director Jill McClure

Rental dealers and vendors gathered February 7-9 in Washington, D.C., for APRO’s 2018 Legislative Conference. Rent-to-own professionals met with members of Congress and their staff to nurture relationships, introduce themselves to new lawmakers and educate them about the RTO industry.

Chris Kale, Congressman Dennis Ross, Sharon Tomaszewski and RTO YP Jeff Kale

APRO President Louis Garcia addressed attendees, emphasizing the importance of the meetings on Capitol Hill at the welcome reception and dinner. “We are all busy people,” begins Garcia, “however, getting out there and talking to the staffers, the congressmen and the senators to let them know what we’re about is paramount to our business.” More than 100 meetings were held in congressional offices over the course of the three-day event. “I was really impressed with the strength of our members’ relationships on Capitol Hill,” says APRO Director of Government Relations Apu Naik. “It’s easy to see why this industry has been able to protect its legislative interests for so many years.”

Debbie Brown temporarily takes over meeting with Kansas Senator Pat Roberts. Jim Brown and Mike Strong approve!

Additional events included a reception and dinner at the International Spy Museum and a breakfast briefing. “Proactive relationship-building insures our lawmakers are informed about the value of our transaction before harmful legislation is introduced,” says APRO Executive Director Jill McClure. “We are appreciative of all the rental dealers and vendors who made advocating in Washington on behalf of the industry a priority this year.”

APRO thanks conference sponsors RentDirect Nationwide, TRIB Group, Benefit Marketing Solutions and Imagery Marketing Group.

We want to hear from you! If you attended this year’s legislative conference please send us your stories, photos and experience by Monday, February 12th at 2 PM CST to news@rtohq.org.

Watch for Tuesday’s issue of RTO Today for the full album of Legislative Conference photos.

Mark Connelly and Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership in Puerto Rico’s team members.

“I just want to thank all our associates in Puerto Rico for their amazing resilience and commitment to Arona and Aaron’s,” begins APRO past president and Arona Corp., dba Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership owner Mark Connelly. “This has been a long road, and it will continue to be a journey as we progress and move down the road.”

In mid-September, Connelly was set to make a trip to Puerto Rico to prepare for the opening of his newest store when he received a call from Arona Corp general and regional manager OT advising him to cancel his plans as Hurricane Maria was approaching the island. OT, whose wife and Arona colleague Maria Acosta Gonzalez and father-in-law were in Miami, had plans of his own that were cancelled. He was slated to travel to Miami to move his family to Puerto Rico but instead had to ride out the storm. Additional members of the Arona Aaron’s Puerto Rico store who also rode out the storm included Denisse Monell and Jesus Rodriguez.

Maria was the first Category 4 hurricane to directly impact the island in 85 years, and it caused widespread damage whose effects are still being felt. It also left those on island without power and means of communication for days. “Twelve days had passed and I still had not heard from our team,” remembers Connelly. “I was driving down the road and my phone rang, it was OT! I picked up and he said, “Boss, you have to book me a flight to get back to my wife and family. They still don’t know I’m OK!” and as luck would have it, my wife was in the car and immediately booked him a flight back to Miami.” OT and his cousin had spent hours driving around the island in search of cellphone signal before they could make a call out. OT spent a few weeks in Miami, going back and forth to Puerto Rico, assisting the company. Meanwhile, the other two associates, Monell and Rodriguez, remained on the island helping as much as they could without certainty the store would ever open.

Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership in Puerto Rico first customer

“They could have gone back to their previous employer or looked for another job,” Connelly notes. “But they didn’t, they stayed the course. They wanted to be a part of the Arona and Aaron’s Team, and for that we will always be grateful!”

Arona Corp., dba Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership in Puerto Rico opened its doors last week. They continue to experience power outages, very limited phone service and minimal internet service, “but based on what this team went through, these are just minor issues!” says Connelly. The store currently has 30 customers and is still growing. Its staff has also experienced some growth as Arona Puerto Rico welcomed its newest team member, Luis Pimental.

The APRO RTO [Relief To Our] Employee Disaster Relief Fund proved to be a source of relief to RTO employees affected by Hurricane Maria as well as hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017. “I want to mention APRO and the amazing thing this organization does for their members,” states Connelly. “APRO’s Employee Disaster Relief Fund helps member company employees get through times like these and thank God for that! The fund was able to help Denisse and Jesus with a little money, which they are very grateful for!”

Last year, APRO dispersed over $147,000 on behalf of the RTO Employee Disaster Fund. Since Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria made landfall, APRO has been urging fellow rent-to-own professionals to open their hearts and pocketbooks for the cause. “OT tells me the story where Jesus is following the mail man so he could get these funds which were so greatly needed,” recalls Connelly. “Thanks, APRO!”

Click here to contribute to APRO’s RTO Employee Disaster Relief Fund, or contact APRO at 800/204-2776.

Click here to see more photos of the Arona Corp., dba Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership in Puerto Rico.

Eagle Award winner Chris Vickers of LDCD Investments LLC pictured with Michael Landry, Cathy Skula and Mitch Fadel.

“Sharing the Vision” is the theme at this year’s Rent-A-Center Franchising International, Inc. (RACFI) 2018 National Convention at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas, where Rent-A-Center franchisees, select vendors and corporate support staff gathered to celebrate, collaborate and prepare for several new initiatives this week.

“This is an especially exciting convention as we outline the strides we are actively taking towards our goal of becoming a world class franchisor,” says Cathy Skula, Executive Vice-President of Franchising. The event officially kicked off Monday, January 30, with welcoming remarks by Rent-A-Center (RAC) and RACFI leadership including Skula and RAC’s CEO Mitch Fadel.

Monday’s activities included a vendor expo and buying show, and the announcement of the franchisee of the year and winner of the prestigious Eagle Award, Chris Vickers and Lyle Edwards of LDCD Investments LLC. Vickers will join Rent-A-Center’s top performing operators on an all-expense paid “Perform to Win” trip to Dominican Republic in March.

APRO Executive Director Jill McClure was a guest speaker at Monday’s General Session, updating franchisees about APRO’s legislative strategy and association programs. The evening concluded with a Texas-themed dinner and casino night sponsored by Ashley Furniture.

Tuesday’s events are scheduled to include updates on digital marketing initiatives, training sessions and wrapping up with a collaborative meeting with RACFI’s Franchise Advisory Council to discuss plans for the year.

This year APRO has made attending meetings at this year’s Legislative Conference February 7-9 in Washington, D.C. even easier by providing the Congress in Your Pocket phone app to all registered attendees.

In addition to being the leading mobile directory for Congress, the app will allow you to coordinate notes based on your calls and meetings with APRO members and staff on Capitol Hill. You can also find everything you need to navigate through this year’s conference such as the conference schedule, master meetings list, maps for all the capitol buildings, information on all representatives and senators and much more. Click here to read more about all its features. All Legislative Conference attendees will receive their login information via email prior to the event.

Registered to attend APRO’s 2018 Legislative Conference?

Contact us at 800/204-2776, ext 111, or at legcon@rtohq.org, for instructions on how to download and install the Congress in Your Pocket app.

Haven’t Registered to attend APRO’s 2018 Legislative Conference?

It’s not too late! Click here for online registration and indicating your preferred date(s) to meet with your Legislators or contact us at (800) 204-2776, ext. 111, or at legcon@rtohq.org.

See you on the Hill!

 

 

New RNR Tire Express in Clovis, New Mexico

APRO Member Jason Summers of JSA Tires, Inc. opened his third RNR Tire Express located at 1101 North Main in Clovis, New Mexico on December 18, 2017. This location is the first RNR Tire Express in the state of New Mexico and will serve the areas of Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis, Portales,  and other communities in East Central New Mexico.

“The choice to open a location in Clovis was made easy by a flourishing economy and the acquisition of a recently shuttered Goodyear Tire location located in the heart of downtown Clovis,” says Summers. “These two things have led to a quick start of what we are hoping will be a long-term relationship between the Clovis area and RNR Tire Express.”

RNR Tire Express Grand Opening in Clovis, New Mexico

JSA Tires, Inc. opened its first RNR Tire Express location in Lubbock, Texas on November 9th, 2016. The location currently serves 512 customers and continues to grow by offering quality tires and wheels at an affordable price to the customers of North Lubbock and surrounding areas. It’s second location opened on October 9th, 2017 in South Lubbock and currently serves nearly 200 customers.  “All three stores are performing very well and our teams continue to get better every day,” shares Summers. His plans for the future include RNR Tire Express locations in Corpus Christi, Texas, as well as, Laredo, Texas, “By following the RNR Model, the future looks bright!”

APRO board members Jonathan Rose, Jamie Slatton, David Harrison and David P. David with RNR Tire Express Founder and President and longtime APRO member Larry Sutton.

RNR Tire Express held its 15th Annual Franchise Conference this week in Tampa, Florida at the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel. RNR franchisees and managers from across the country gathered to celebrate last year’s successes as well as prepare for the upcoming year with the company’s 2018 vision in mind. The three-day event included a welcome reception, two days of informative general sessions, a vendor hall and an awards banquet.

During the conference, owners and managers attended two days of general sessions designed to bring attendees up to speed with the company’s goals for 2018. Presentations by RNR Tire Express Founder and President Larry Sutton, Executive Vice President Adam Sutton, Vice President of Franchising Vince Ficarrotta and Director of Digital Marketing Randy Cabrera covered impressive statistics and growth from the past year as well as announcing various additions to the company’s Resource Center, a tool available to RNR’s owner’s and managers to help streamline their businesses. In 2017, the company reached 111 stores with 22 franchisees while bringing in $128.5 million in total revenue making RNR the 14th largest tire dealer in America. Guest speakers included Joe Pici of Pici & Pici Inc. as well as longtime APRO members and board members David Harrison and Jamie Slatton. Also in attendance were APRO board members Larry Carrico, David P. David, Ernie Lewallen and Jonathan Rose.

The 2018 Franchise Conference closed with an awards banquet where Sutton shared hat he was most proud of the lives the company has changed philanthropic efforts. RNR donated more than $35,000 to hurricane victims as well as distributed relief items shipped to Puerto Rico along with $20,000. RNR also donated more than $5,000 to an associate diagnosed with breast cancer as well as providing 130 days of paid vacation.

Sutton concluded the event by honoring RNR’s 2017 all stars: David Harrison, Rental Concepts, LCC, Franchisee of the Year; Ed Milani, Vendor of the Year; Jimmy Gypin, Manager of the Year; Michael Davis, Rookie of the Year; Danny Wright, Dustin Wright and Misti Wright, Wright Leasing, LLC, Best New Franchise; John Lyon, Best Performance New Store; Chris Richey, Most Improved Store; and Matt King and West Market, Multi-Unit Operator of the Year.

The Premier Companies award Dealer of the Year to franchisee partners Mike Shuler and Heath Peters.

The Premier Companies kicked off its 2018 National Convention Saturday, January 13 in Miami, Florida. Dealers, vendors and guests were welcomed to an opening cocktail reception under the stars before getting down to business the following day.

The Premier Companies President and CEO Trooper Earle welcomed attendees and provided an industry and company briefing followed by a motivational speech presented by the company’s Director of Operations Tim Stough. Premier Advisory Board Chairman Chad Fosdick provided an update on behalf of the franchise advisory board as well as sharing The Premier Companies 2018 goals and departmental priorities. Attendees were also educated on the importance of effective internal communication presented by Premier’s Human Resources Executive Director Laura Emerson. APRO Executive Director Jill McClure presented the Industry Service Award as well as guest speaking on behalf of the association sharing its focus for the upcoming year and touching on the importance of member participation in the upcoming Legislative Conference February 7-9 in Washington, D.C.

Highlights of the convention included award presentations for Vendor of the Year and Dealer of the Year. O’Rourke Sales accepted Vendor of the Year while Mike Shuler and Heath Peters accepted Dealer of the Year. The franchisee partners own two stores in Nebraska. “Our team truly drives our excellence,” says Shuler. “This was our best year ever and we are honored to receive this award.”

“I’m pleased to award Dealer of the Year to Mike and Heath,” shares Earle. “Their stores are exceptional and they’ve done a fantastic job in all areas of their business. They are very deserving of this prestigious award.”