David Kaye, Larrico Carrico and Al Benson

Last fall, the APRO Board of Directors and the APRO Vendor Advisory Committee met for APRO’s annual board meeting. In the course of business as usual, a trio of rent-to-own veterans, industry leaders and longtime friends – Al BensonLarry Carrico and David Kaye – realized they would once again be at the same place at the same time, and soon!

Benson and Kaye, attending an industry event in Fort Myers, FL, were able to take a break to go watch and support Carrico playing baseball for the St. Louis Patriots – a division of the St. Louis Baseball Forever League – at the Roy Hobbs Annual World Series. Carrico, who has been playing baseball for forty years, is the 60+-division Patriots’ catcher. Patriots won, 5-2!

APRO’s 2019 Legislative Conference reception and dinner will be held at the majestic Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, sponsored by RentDirect Nationwide.

You are cordially invited to join us at the majestic Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center for APRO’s 2019 Legislative Dinner made possible by the sponsorship of RentDirect Nationwide. This unique experience will take place in the building’s rotunda in part of APRO’s 2019 Legislative Conference, scheduled for April 9-11th in Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday evening, after a full day of no-doubt-successful meetings on the Hill, rent-to-own advocates will come together at the Ronald Reagan Building’s rotunda for good food, cool drinks, and a casual debriefing. The building, named for U.S. President Ronald Reagan, is the largest structure in D.C. – at 3.1-million square feet – and is the first and only federal building dedicated to both government and private use. You won’t want to miss the breathtaking views of the nation’s capital from the venue’s balcony or, for the heights-phobic, safely behind floor-to-ceiling windows, as you share your extraordinary experience visiting Congressional members with your RTO peers.

If you haven’t registered yet to attend, now is the time! Join us on Capitol Hill this spring as we meet face-to-face with our lawmakers to strengthen our relationships and to tell the rent-to-own story. YOU are an essential element in our industry’s narrative – come and be heard!

Limited hotel rooms are available, so please reserve yours today!

Cynthia Strunk Named RNR Woman of the Year at Franchisee Conference

Longtime APRO member and Hall of Honor recipient Cynthia Strunk was honored again by her industry this week, accepting RNR Tire Express’ Faye Sutton Award, acknowledging Strunk as RNR’s Woman of the Year. Strunk received the award – named for RNR founder Larry Sutton’s late mother – at the company’s 16th annual Franchisee Conference, held in Tampa January 7-9th. All of RNR’s 26 franchise groups attended the conference, including 180 owners, managers, operators and staff representing the company’s 116 stores in 22 states nationwide.

“The number of franchisees and managers that attended speaks volumes in terms of the importance and validity of the content being discussed,” shared RNR Franchise Development Coordinator Tracy Cintron. “Attendees clearly wanted to be there; they truly felt the great value of the event.”

RNR’s Franchisee Conference included a welcome reception, open forums, a vendor show featuring more than 15 wheel-and-tire vendors and the awards dinner, where Strunk was honored among her esteemed peers: Chris Wisniewski and Robert Roller, Friend Tire, Vendor of the Year; Larry Carrico, RNR Missouri, Mike Kent Pioneer Award; Dustin Wright, Wright Leasing, Leadership Award; Rusty Adkinson, Rental Concepts, Multi-unit Operator of the Year; and Keith Ferriman, Buckeye Wheel and Tires LLC, Best New Franchisee of the Year; and Larry Carrico and Rich Bergman, RNR Missouri, Franchise of the Year.

Executive Vice President Adam Sutton presents RNR branding

Additionally, attendees enjoyed two days of general sessions designed to bring participants up to speed on RNR’s 2019 goals. Speakers included RNR Tire Express Founder and President Larry Sutton, Executive Vice President Adam Sutton and Director of Corporate Development Matthew Warren, who addressed business development and personal growth for RNR success. Keynote speaker Bryan Dodge empowered the group with an inspiring, educational and actionable presentation intended to help franchisees awaken the potential within themselves.

“It’s always great to have all of our franchisees and vendors together, this year we had record attendance and celebrated our best year ever with record breaking revenue and customer growth,” concludes Sutton. “In 2018 we had over 110 thousand installations, over $160 million in revenue and over $1 million dollars in charitable donations! We are looking forward to even greater success in 2019!”

In Atlanta, new homeowner Ronyelle and her 5-year-old son (center) were surprised by former NFL star Warrick Dunn and Aaron’s representatives with a home filled with furniture and electronics just in time to celebrate Christmas, thanks to the combined efforts of Aaron’s, thanks to the combined efforts of Aaron’s, WDC and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.

Aaron’s and Progressive Leasing recently filled two new homes with furniture, electronics and appliances as a holiday surprise for two single moms in Atlanta and Nashville. This holiday wish come true was part of Aaron’s partnership with the Warrick Dunn Charities (WDC) Homes for the Holidays (HFTH) program, sponsored by former NFL star Warrick Dunn. The WDC HFTH program helps single parents become first-time homeowners.

In Nashville, additional partnerships with Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota’s Motiv8 Foundation and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville helped provide single mother Carrie and her five sons with a new, fully furnished home for the holidays. In Atlanta, Ronyelle and her 5-year-old son were surprised with furnishings and gifts for their home just in time to celebrate Christmas, thanks to the combined efforts of Aaron’s, WDC and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.

“Aaron’s is thrilled to be working alongside Warrick Dunn, Marcus Mariota and Habitat for Humanity to provide these families with this surprise during one of the most joyous times of the year,” says Aaron’s, Inc. CEO John Robinson. “Carrie and Ronyelle work hard to provide the best for their children; it’s humbling to be a part of providing safe, modern and inviting homes they and their families can truly call their own.”

Carrie works as a forklift operator for a Nashville logistics company, and has long dreamt of having a safe home with enough room for her five boys to grow and aspire to promising futures. Ronyelle worked throughout her pregnancy while earning her medical assistant’s degree in Atlanta; her dream was to offer her son a safe and inspirational environment.

“Carrie’s and Ronyelle’s commitments as single parents – to provide their children with the lives they deserve – make them admirable recipients for our Homes for the Holidays program,” says Warrick Dunn. “I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to work alongside Aaron’s to bring holiday magic to these commendable and hardworking families.”

Aaron’s has been a longtime supporter of WDC initiatives, and has contributed home furnishings, appliances and electronics to the Homes for the Holidays program for the past 15 years.

The first-ever RTO World held in St. Louis in August was a resounding success – can you believe it’s already time to begin putting together the sequel? Yes, the time is now, and you can play a key role in our industry’s biggest event of the year by sharing your experience and expertise with your colleagues!

Call for Presentations RTO World 2019 – Deadline: January 31, 2019

Do you have ideas for compelling content for the RTO World 2019 education sessions? Gather them together and let us know! If you are interested in being a speaker at our national conference – scheduled for August 6-8th in Louisville, KY – then follow these instructions, and apply. A committee of industry leaders will review all submissions and determine which ones best meet our needs for the 2019 convention.

Presentations will be reviewed and ranked based upon the following criteria:

  • Relevance to attendees
  • Creativity in content and presentation style
  • Presenter’s communication skill and style

Presentation formats may be with 1) an individual presenter, 2) a pair of co-presenters, or 3) up to three panelists with a moderator.

Please submit the following information in your speaker application packet no later than January 31, 2019 to edu@rtohq.org:

Presenter bio(s) – 200 words or fewer (required)

  •  Current title and company
  • Years in industry
  • Credentials/training
  • Something interesting about you (non-work related – family, hobbies, achievements, etc.)

Session description (required)

  •  250-500 words total
  • An introductory summary (150 words or fewer), bulleted specific learning outcomes, compelling audience questions, and the presentation format – do NOT include bios in the session description.

Professional headshot(s) (required)

  • High-resolution, print-ready
  • Minimum 300 dpi at 100% size
  • EPS, JPG, TIFF formats accepted

Speaker expectations (required)

  • All set-up requirements, audio/visual requirements, and any additional items you will need for your presentation, such as flip charts or white boards
  • If you require travel reimbursement or an honorarium to present, then include this information. The review committee will select presentations that fit within the overall budget for the event; they may or may not have access to limited funds for travel reimbursement or honorariums.

Video or voice recording of presenter (preferred)

  • Online link (YouTube or other site) – CDs, DVDs, etc. will NOT be accepted

Additional materials (optional)

  • Sample slides, visual aids, handouts, etc.
  • Resource articles related to your topic

Thank you to those who have already submitted. If you have questions, concerns, or just want more info, please contact us at 800/204-2776 or info@rtohq.org.

Everyone needs a little help sometimes, and this holiday season, Ohio-based Countryside Rentals, dba Rent-2-Own [R2O] is lending a hand. APRO Member R2O hosted a virtual holiday wish list on its website, where visitors submitted all they wanted, with no limitations. The company received more than 2,500 submissions from customers throughout Kentucky and Ohio, and yesterday, 34 wishes were granted – one for each of R2O’s store locations.

“Reading through the submissions was incredibly humbling, knowing we were going to grant families their holiday wishes,” says Mike Tissot. R2O CEO and President. Examples of those granted wishes included the following:

  • Michelle Yerian, Manager of R2O Cambridge, OH, presented a longtime customer with a new set of tires. “When we told her, Maggie cried, and so did we!” Yerian says. “She takes care of her grandchildren and rarely does anything for herself. We’re so happy and excited for her!”
  • Over in Amelia, OH, R2O Manager Brad Matthews, gave a customer a laptop for her autistic son, whose computer had been stolen from his backpack. “When we called Stacy, she cried and just thanked us over and over again,” says Matthews. “Knowing we made a difference simply by providing a laptop computer was incredibly rewarding.”
  • R2O’s Zanesville, OH, store gave a 40” TV to a family who had to start over after losing everything. In Grayson, KY, a dining room table was offered to a family who had never had a table big enough for everyone to come together for a holiday meal. And R2O Flemingsburg, KY, presented a cash gift of $250 to a customer whose family is suffering through tough times following her husband’s involvement in a semi-truck accident.

Everyone at R2O’s holiday workshop was overjoyed to help make a positive difference for their customers, especially at this special time of year. “A wish is just a wish until someone grants it,” Tissot concludes. “During the holidays, it takes all of us to help those in need and make a holiday wish come true.”

RNR Tire Express & Custom Wheels will hold its 16th Annual Franchise Conference & Expo on January 7-9, 2019, at the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel in Tampa, FL. Whether you’re an RNR franchise veteran or just getting started, this event will help you hone your business development and personal growth for RNR success. The convention will include a welcome reception, business general sessions, a tradeshow and an awards gala.

Click here to register for the 2019 RNR Franchise Conference, and don’t forget to reserve your room by booking online, or call 800/644-2685 and mention promo code RNRTIRES2019. Event registration and hotel deadline is TOMORROW, December 15th!

For more information, please contact Ryan Schrader at conference@RNRtires.comor at 813.977.9800.

Communication goes both ways, so make sure to let APRO know of any events – either past or future – you would like publicized. If you have recent community outreach, new recognitions, store promotions or staff changes you want to share, then please send some info our way! We happily accept press releases, photographs and videos, and would love to get your good-news word out to your rent-to-own colleagues and other media outlets.

To submit your news, contact APRO at news@rtohq.org or 800/204-2776.

USMC Sergeant John Rankel, son of American Rental’s Kevin Rankel, inducted into the Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame

Kevin Rankel – Chief Executive Officer and Company Secretary of Full-O-Pep Appliances, Inc., dba American Rental – had a dream of his son, USMC Sergeant John Rankel, being inducted into the Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame … and last month, that dream came true.

Sgt. Rankel was one of 21 classmates selected for the honor. “We were overjoyed,” says proud father Kevin. “We’d been waiting on this level of recognition to happen, and it means the world to us.” This year’s inductees join only 62 other veterans total as members of this prestigious group.

John Rankel was killed on June 7, 2010, while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan. He joined the Marines following graduation, working his way up to the rank of sergeant by the age of 23. During his first four-year stint as a Marine, Rankel’s unit – the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force – was deployed twice to Iraq. He re-enlisted when he learned his unit was going to deploy to Afghanistan.

During his service, Sergeant Rankel received multiple Combat Action ribbons, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the Afghanistan and Iraq campaign medals, multiple Sea Service Deployment ribbons, and the Global War on Terrorism and National Defense Service medals, as well as three individual certificates of commendation.

“We feel John’s story is very worthy of induction, and fortunately this year, the committee agreed,” says Kevin.

The Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame was founded in 2013, and is chaired by Russ Dowden, a retired U.S. Army Colonel.The organization’s vision is to recognize outstanding service by Indiana veterans. Veterans must be nominated for the Hall of Fame and are considered based on two categories – valor on the battlefield, and additional contributions to veterans after their military careers.

“We’ve been trying to get John inducted since the Hall of Fame was created,” Kevin Rankel notes. “It was a very emotional day.”

Click here for more information about the Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame.

Pennsylvania-based Majik Rent To Own recently held an employee-driven effort to support their city through donations to the Extraordinary Give. The Extraordinary Give is a one-day virtual fundraising event designed to support community causes, such as health care, education, housing and more. This year, Majik owner Dan Fisher offered his employees the opportunity to participate by either using their “You Earned It” employee rewards program points, or deducting from their paychecks to contribute. Majik pledged to match every employee donation times four; at the end of day, the company had contributed a total of more than $7,000.

“While I have my own charitable causes that I support privately, I really love this type of an event because it allows our co-workers to select their charity of choice and it amplifies their giving,” Fisher shares. “It made them feel good, and made me feel terrifically proud to lead such a group of giving people.”

For years, Majik has included a donation option in its “You Earned It” rewards program, so employees can support charitable causes, such as disaster relief or various nonprofits, and Majik matches whatever amount they donate. This year, employees could also opt to contribute a cash amount deducted from their upcoming paycheck. “I was really proud so many of our co-workers donated their hard-earned rewards points and pay to such a great cause,” affirms Fisher.

Click here to learn more about The Extraordinary Give.