Pictured left to right: RentDirect Director Bruce Manning, APRO Executive Director Jill McClure, APRO General Counsel Ed Winn III, and Nationwide Marketing Group VP of Appliances Patrick Maloney.

Earlier this week, Nationwide Marketing Group Vice President of Appliances Patrick Maloney and RentDirect Director Bruce Manning stopped by APRO headquarters in Austin, Texas, for a visit.

Thank you for spending some time with us to learn more about APRO’s work and benefits, and to help us learn more about Nationwide RentDirect’s many marketing services!

James Bond, Tony Farrell, Joe Gazzo and John Blair present $5,000 to the American Legion of Panama City, FL.

APRO Members PTS Financial Services and Buddy’s Home Furnishings recently partnered to contribute $5,000 to the American Legion of Panama City, FL, in the wake of the town’s devastation from Hurricane Michael. PTS Financial’s John Blair and Tony Farrell, along with Buddy’s James Bond, Joe Gazzo and Mike Zajar, toured the area before presenting their donation – which will be used to help veterans displaced by the storm – to the organization’s officers. “Please help veterans and their families in this community,” requested Farrell as he presented the check to the American Legion Commander.

The group toured the area before presenting their donation

Just days prior, PTS Financial announced the launch of Operation Hire a Vet, a new initiative designed to encourage rent-to-own companies to fill open positions with qualified armed-service veterans.

Click here for more information on the American Legion.

Click here or more information on Operation Hire a Vet.

Jess Fisher – a longtime APRO Member and owner of Kansas-based Mustang Enterprises Inc., dba Hometown Sales Lease – is probably feeling some fatherly pride as his daughter, Michelle Mason Rudolph, pays it forward this holiday season with Treats for the Troops.

Inspired by her two sons, deployed to Turkey and Romania, Michelle created this nonprofit, dedicated to delivering a taste of home via baked goods to soldiers around the world, in 2017. Over the past year-and-a-half, many good community samaritans have joined the cause to contribute flour, sugar, baking supplies, and funding to help cover shipping costs. Generous donations from Advertising Images, Arkansas City, Hometown Rental Purchase, NCTV, and West Kansas Avenue Church of God have helped keep Michelle’s vision moving forward. Elementary-school students have written cards and letters to include in packages, and the Jobs for America’s Graduates program at Augusta High School is helping in the kitchen. The organization won the 2017 Pay It Forward Award, along with a $500 cash prize, for its work.

Last year, Treats for the Troops made more than 3,000 baked goods, and shipped more than 40 boxes over Thanksgiving and Christmas – at a shipping fee of more than $650. This year, the organization has a recipient list of 25 deployed soldiers, and the list continues to grow. If you want to nominate a soldier to receive a goodie box, just click here, or to learn more about Treat for Troops, visit their Facebook Group, Treats for the Troops No-profit, or feel free to contact Michelle Rudolph at michelle@hometownsaleslease.com.

To contribute to Treat for the Troops, just click here, or mail a check payable to Michelle Rudolph to Hometown Sales Lease, 600 N. Walnut, Augusta, KS 67010.


Vice President Mike Pence, Gopal Reddy and U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (IL-13)

APRO board member and Illinois Rental Dealer Association (IRDA) member Gopal Reddy recently attended – alongside Vice President Mike Pence – a pre-midterm-election fundraising event for U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (IL-13), in Springfield. The Vice President urged his supporters to vote for the incumbent Congressman – and Davis did secure a fourth term, defeating Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. “These are PAC [political action committee] dollars at work!” Reddy affirmed.

Reddy and the IRDA have formed a solid bond with Representative Davis since his initial election to the U.S. House in 2013. APRO members have held annual one-on-one meetings in Davis’ office on Capitol Hill during APRO’s Legislative Conference, helping bring understanding and awareness about the rent-to-own industry to Congressional members. Davis has also visited some RTO stores and, as a strong supporter of small businesses, sees value in the rent-to-own transaction.

As the official voice of the rent-to-own industry, an essential element in APRO’s mission is to protect your business. The APRO-PAC Fund helps candidates who support our industry run for political office. Over the past three decades, many federal bills have been introduced that would have crippled or destroyed RTO, and in every case, these measures have been thwarted with the help of Congressional supporters.

To learn more about the APRO-PAC Fund and how you can contribute, please contact APRO at info@rtohq.org or 800/204-2776.

The Winter 2018 issue of RTOHQ: The Magazine reflects a familial feel with two APROfiles on RTO pro’s: Sharon Tomaszewski, a second-generation rent-to-own operator helping guide and protect the industry like family; and Bill French, an industry leader with almost a half-century of distribution sales accredits his caring approach to not only his, but his colleague’s success.

RTO World 2018, the first-ever APRO and TRIB Group collaboration on a national rent-to-own convention and trade show, was held this past August in St. Louis, Missouri. More than 700 attendees participated in the inaugural event, which included plenty of momentous firsts for everyone. Jump over to page 38 for a scrapbook of highlights of the industry’s biggest event of the year.

In our feature, “Heads and Tails,” we take a deep dive into trade associations and buying groups. We cover the differences and benefits between the two types of organizations, and as you might suspect, they both provide value while playing very different roles in your success.

Also in this issue, we cover a double dose of tax tidbits—APRO General Counsel Ed Winn III provides a legal update on taxing transactions on the internet, while APRO associate members, CPA’s Kim Cardenas and Mike Helton of Rivero, Gordimer & Company P.A., prepare you for tax planning with the top 15 tax strategies.

Click here to read the entire Winter 2018 issue of RTOHQ: The Magazine.

APRO Member Hometown Rent To Own will be giving out free Thanksgiving Feasts to local families in need. Photo by Deb Everts

APRO Member Hometown Rent To Own will be giving out free Thanksgiving Feasts – the fixings for 150 – 200 full holiday meals – to local families in need. The event, scheduled for this Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Hometown store in Salamanca, NY, is open to the public. Participants may choose the foods they want, including mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green beans, stuffing and dinner rolls. Participants will also be given a gift card to Sander’s Markets Parkview, where they can pick up a turkey.

This is the third year Hometown has held this event as a thank-you for its supportive community. Co-owners Christopher Fiegl and Matthew Radecki founded the company four years ago, and Salamanca has helped the business flourish.

“We just want to give back to the community that has done so much for us and made us an overnight success,” says Radecki. “From the time we got the keys and filled up with inventory, we have literally had a line of customers out the door. Thanks to Salamanca, we knew our business was going to work from the very first year.”

Local radio station MIX 101.5 FM will host a live broadcast as the company distributes the Feasts from their storefront and holds several other giveaways during the event.

“The holiday season is especially hard for many people who just can’t afford a big to-do, so we like to help bring families together each year with this event,” Radecki shares. “Last year was a great success, and we hope to keep it growing every year to help more and more people within our community.”

Click here for article about the event from local newspaper The Post-Journal.

APRO associate member PTS Financial Services recently launched Operation Hire a Vet, a new initiative designed to help companies fill open positions with qualified armed-service veterans. PTS has created an online portal where prospective employers can list job descriptions nationwide that will be marketed worldwide.

Operation Hire a Vet is free for both employers and potential employees. Through this program, PTS aims to educate the public on the benefits of hiring veterans, including annual tax credits up to $9,600. PTS will provide hiring companies with the information they need to file for eligible tax credits in the first year following a veteran hire.

For more information, please visit www.HireAVetNow.org.

Rent One Park, home of the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier Baseball League, recently revealed it will also be the host of a professional softball team, Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois, for their 2019 season. The Wild, composed of players from Softball Canada, will play at least 25 home games at Rent One Park, as members of the National Pro Fastpitch [NPF] League.

“We are extremely excited to announce that Softball Canada has chosen Rent One Park and Marion, Illinois, as their home for an approximate 25-game home season this year,” says Miners Manager Mike Pinto. “Their games will take place when the Miners are on the road, so there will be no overlap, and we will all have the opportunity to use this beautiful stadium 25 more times this year.”

Rent One Park was one of three venues being considered for the Wild’s home base. Team representatives visited Marion and Southern Illinois University in September; the Wild will be housed at the university and use its training facilities.

The NPF League consists of six teams: Aussie Spirit; Beijing Shougang Eagles; Chicago Bandits; Cleveland Comets; USSSA Florida Pride; and now Canadian Wild. In 2016, the NPF played a series of exhibition games at Rent One Park which were well-received, drawing more than 1,000 fans per game.

“We’re really excited to be here,” says Softball Canada’s CEO Hugh Mitchener. “In the past, we’ve had to travel far to get world-class competition, but this league offers an outstanding opportunity for our team to play against world-class players and teams right here in North America.”

Softball Canada recently finished third in the 2018 Women’s Softball World Championship. The 2019 season will be the league’s 16th year at play.

In 2016, APRO board member and Rent One CEO Larry Carrico announced an extended sponsorship of the park, through the year 2026. “Marion and the surrounding communities have been great to Rent One, and this is a terrific opportunity for us to show our appreciation,” says Carrico. “Mike Pinto is a champion for our community, and the Wild is a big deal for Southern Illinois.”

High Touch President and CEO Wayne Chambers

APRO associate member High Touch Technologies served as the presenting sponsor of the highly successful tenth annual gala for Envision, an integrated community of people who are blind, low-vision and atypically sighted. The gala, Evening with Envision: Fusion! Destination for the Senses, was held October 27th in Wichita, and delivered a night of fun, food, and fine entertainment.

The gala, Envision’s largest fundraising event of the year, featured High Touch President and CEO, Wayne Chambers, as a guest speaker, which raised more than $372,000 to support Envision’s mission – to improve the quality of life, and provide inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research.

Additional speakers at the event included Envision President and CEO Michael Monteferrante, Blind Chef and Master Chef Season 3 Winner Christine Ha, and former High Touch Technologies Intern Andrew McCleod.

Click here to learn more about Envision.

Lifetime of Distinguished Service award recipients with outgoing IRDA President Casey Pristou

The Illinois Rental Dealers Association held its annual meeting October 25 in Springfield, IL. This year’s meeting participation was up by 30 percent from 2017, breaking the association’s all-time highest record for attendance and comprising an equitable representation of store managers, regional/district managers and owners/dealers. The highlight of the event was the Lifetime of Distinguished Service awards, which honored industry leaders for their positive impact on the organization. Award recipients were APRO Board Members Larry Carrico and Gopal Reddy, APRO General Counsel Ed Winn III, National Rent to Own’s Steve Braning and Rent One’s David Keen.

“Illinois has been APRO State Association of the Year, recognized for its Continued Excellence and Legislative Achievement in recent years,” noted Aaron’s franchisee and outgoing IRDA President Casey Pristou. “In my final acts as IRDA president, I want to recognize you all, without whom the association would not have succeeded as well as it has.”

The meeting also featured the appointment of the new IRDA president, Rent One’s Kelly Martin. “IRDA has a longstanding history of being one of the strongest state associations in rent-to-own,” Martin told members. “I’m beyond honored that IRDA’s current board leadership and membership feel I’m the best fit to serve as the next president. This is not a responsibility I take lightly, and I’m looking forward to seeing how IRDA can continue to raise the bar for state associations.”

The event theme was Navigating the Current Ambiguity and Uncertainty of RTO, and the agenda included a panel of industry veterans – including Braning, Carrico and Watershed Development Corporation’s Mike Ceruzzi – tackling current events and critical questions through group discussion, as well as a remarkable roster of great speakers, including Martin, Winn and IRDA government relations consultant Michael Houlihan.

IRDA’s newly elected/re-elected board of directors are: Kelly Martin, president; Mike Ceruzzi, vice president; Larry Carrico, treasurer; and board members Steve Braning, Matt Grynwald, David Keen, Brad Kosem, Kevin Milliron, Dave Scroggins and Glen Wallace.

Click here for more photos of the 2018 IRDA annual meeting.