Last week, Full-O-Pep Appliances Inc., dba American Rental’s APRO Executive Committee Member David P. David and Board Member Dennis Adams hosted Indiana Senator Todd Young at the company’s headquarters in Bloomington, Indiana. Their goal was to tell the rent-to-own story so Young would have a better understanding of the RTO industry.
The visit began with a tour of facilities, starting with American Rental CFO Kevin Rankel’s office, specifically the memorial wall that pays tribute to his son, Marine Sgt. John K. Rankel, who died as a result of injuries received in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Young, an ex-Marine, received a personal letter from Kevin along with one of his son’s challenge coins.
David and Adams told the story of American Rental, from its early beginnings as a modest retail store to the multi-location corporation it is today. Young asked how the business is affected by the economy’s varying climates to which American Rental President David replied that it wasn’t. To illustrate, David gave an example of why people chose to RTO, “if we lost our jobs, we can just turn it back in.” He went on to talk about how the industry has evolved, developing the six months same as cash buying plan and that with American Rental, 100% of the rental payments go towards purchase.
Another example, given by Adams, explained how customers want to have the same things everyone else does and RTO makes that possible. “Instead of going to a laundromat and paying $40, they can actually have a washer and dryer in their home for only $20 a week, and eventually own it,” says Adams.
Young then asked if there were other revenue streams generated such as service, David explained that American Rental continues to service what customers have come to own up to six months to a year after the purchase. “For example, with electronics, the replacement costs are comparable to repair costs, so most people opt to replace them rather than pay to have them repaired.,” says David.
Adams then brought millennials into the conversation, he talked about how they prefer to rent because they want to be mobile. “In three months, if they decide to move,” he explained, “they just turn it back in.”
Young stated that there have been roundtable discussions regarding how to help people who are struggling to remain in the middle class and those wanting to get there, “it strikes me that you’re part of the solution to that.” He talked about how customers are getting a better value than they could afford otherwise and how people who are working a minimum wage job can never find a pathway into ownership.
“We truly help our customers learn to budget,” says Adams. “Those life skills aren’t being taught. Customers pay us when they get paid, and we help them stay on track—they will say, ‘I own this washer and dryer, and no one can take it from me,’ and we sometimes forget how huge of a deal it is.”
David recalled a waitress who used to make her payments with quarters. He said that she came in with a bag of quarters and told them that her friends had given her a hard time about renting, but that she was making her last payment that day and would now own the items. Young’s response was that he could see how they were personally touched by these stories. Adams explained how family oriented the company is, not just with customers, but with colleagues, “David’s mother was my first manager in Columbus and she was great!”
David addressed the laws safeguarding the RTO industry in 48 states and how RTO representatives were in Washington when Evan Bayh was serving as an Indiana Senator, trying to get legislation passed; Bayh was supportive of the industry. “We’re just keeping our name in front of people and helping legislators understand the business we’re in,” says David. He added that American Rental is overseen by the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). The business part of the meeting ended, “You’re in the business of helping people realize their dreams,” says Young. “It seems like the best thing we can do for you is to stay out of your way.”
Young, his assistant Hal Turner and district director Thomas Barclay were given a tour of the flagship American Rental store in Bloomington as well as the warehouse, both housed in the same building as the corporate offices. During the tour, Young met store manager Sharon Lidberg who has been with American Rental for 24 years, and her staff, including Lance Adams who has been with the company for 30 years.
During the warehouse tour, David showed the visitors a stack of tires, explaining how a typical customer of ours would come in with the cords showing on their tires and how typically, they would buy one tire at a time to replace the worst one because it was all they could afford. Adams agreed saying that about 70% of customers can’t afford new tires, and that by renting, they could afford to run on a complete set of good tires.
Moving through the warehouse, Adams told Young that the tax cuts had helped not only customers, but also employees. Young greeted various employees, sharing that he was there to learn more about the place they work and the work they do, “I want to learn about people’s lives and people’s businesses.”
One employee, Roy Brown, explained how he had worked two jobs before, but was now working full time for American Rental, “David took care of me,” says Brown.
Another employee, Corey Plunkett, got the opportunity to update the senator on his son. Plunkett approached Young after a speaking engagement in Bloomington some years ago, hoping for a meeting with him. It wasn’t on his schedule, but the senator took the time to sit down with Plunkett and his son, Tyler, who wanted to serve in the military but due to a minor health condition required a waiver to enlist. Young sat down with the two of them and listened and Plunkett was happy to report that Tyler is now a sergeant in the military, stationed at Clarksville, Tennessee, after serving in Afghanistan.
Young and his staff also learned of the various philanthropic efforts American Rental is involved in, such as supporting Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and the Boys & Girls Clubs. American Rental also does a corporation-wide fundraiser to help Riley Hospital for Children and Korsair Children’s Hospital.
Before the visit concluded, David brought up the issue of tariffs to which he replied, “If anything ends up creating challenges for you or your customers, let’s be in touch.”
St. Louis-based Rent One recently surprised Mrs. Webster, a Kindergarten teacher at Westarn Elementary School in Huntsville, Missouri, announcing them winners of the company’s “Nominate a Teacher You Love,” contest. Webster received a Rent One Teacher’s Appreciation plaque, balloons, a $250 cash prize and apples for her students.
In August, Rent One solicited entries for the contest, asking Facebook followers to nominate their favorite teacher by submitting a short video why. Webster was nominated by Rent One’s Store Manager Sierra Garrett from Macon, Missouri, whose daughter is a student of hers.
Rent One’s Marketing Manager Owen Pye and Garrett, along with a videographer, surprised Webster at her school. Click here to view the visit.
“We are planning to do this again quarterly, and will most likely open it up to other role models out there like Veterans, Police Officers, Firefighters and Public Servants,” says Pye.
Aaron’s and Progressive Leasing announced that the Aaron’s Foundation has renewed its national partnership with Boys & Girls clubs of America. The continued partnership supports the Keystone Club, BGCA’s premier national teen leadership and character program, for an additional three years with a $5 million commitment.
A special event was held on September 20 at the Lied Boys & Girls Club in Salt Lake City, Utah, to announce the renewed partnership and Aaron’s continued support of the Keystone Club program. The Lied Boys & Girls Club received a makeover of its Teen Center valued at $25,000, marking the 30th Teen Center renewal to be completed since Aaron’s announced the initial partnership in August 2014.
“We knew when we began our partnership in 2014 with Boys & Girls Clubs of America Keystone Club, and believe even more strongly today, that this program is a vital resource for thousands of youths in communities across America,” says Chief Executive Officer of Aaron’s, Inc. John Robinson. “We’ve seen the positive and life-changing effects of our partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs over the last four years and we’re committed to supporting this incredible organization that not only provides a safe place for teens after school, but also helps in shaping our leaders of tomorrow.”
The renewed partnership will build upon the successes the two organizations have achieved since launching the partnership. Aaron’s has sponsored the last four national Keystone Conferences, where thousands of teen leaders from across the world gather and discuss important issues in their lives and communities. The 2018 conference was held in June, where more than 2,000 teens convened in Atlanta and participated in workshops, exchanged ideas, led service projects and socialized with peers.
Over the past four years, Aaron’s also performed makeovers at Teen Centers in cities such as Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville and San Antonio. Last week’s makeover at the Lied Boys & Girls Club Keystone Teen Center in Salt Lake City was made possible by Aaron’s in-kind donation of furniture, electronics and appliances – and the hard work of the company’s employees.
“The Keystone Club makeover in Salt Lake City last week and the last 29 Keystone Club makeovers across the country over the past four years of our partnership is a testimony to the tremendous efforts by Aaron’s toward making a lasting impact on the communities Boys & Girls Clubs of America serves,” says President and Chief Executive Officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of America Jim Clark. “We are excited to continue to work with Aaron’s for another three years of partnership to benefit the youth of our country. Now more than ever, our youth need a safe place outside of their schools and homes where they can learn and truly make a difference in their local neighborhoods. With the help of great partners like Aaron’s, we are dedicated to building a greater future for generations to come.”
The Ohio Rental Dealers held its 2018 Midwest Expo September 18 and 19 in Florence, Indiana. Rent-to-Own owners and employees from Ohio and surrounding areas came together to meet vendors, learn product features and try their luck at the casino in the Belterra Hotel.
This year’s Midwest Expo included more than 200 attendees and 31 vendors. During the Expo attendees walked the tradeshow floor, networked and mingled with vendors to learn about the newest product offerings and get first-hand demonstrations. That evening, dinner was provided while attendees including Countryside Rental’s own Mike Tissot, grabbed the mic to sing their favorite karaoke tune. After dinner, attendees and vendors tried their luck in the Belterra casino.
The following day, the tradeshow continued through the morning hours before the meeting’s educational sessions commenced after lunch. They were also able to attend four out of five training sessions of their choice from presenting vendors including O’Rourke Sales Company, Symbol Mattress, Whirlpool Corporation, Social Joey, and a sales training led by RTO leaders Rachel Casey and Mike Benbrahim.
“The 2018 EXPO was very similar to the last 14 we have had in the past—it served its audience and it was a great success,” says Tissot. “The EXPO was originally designed to train store level people, not as a buying show, and we designed it that way again this year. Vendors trained attendees on the tradeshow floor and we had fantastic presentations and a sales class. All store level attendees left filled with knowledge and ready for a great 4th quarter.”
ORDA would like to thank the vendors and sponsors for a great 2018 Expo and look forward to next year’s meeting.
The Oklahoma Rental Dealers Association will hold its Route 66 Meeting & Tradeshow on October 7 and 8 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa. Longtime RTO veteran and APRO Hall of Honor recipient, nicknamed the Reverend of Rent-to-Own, Larry Sutton will be the guest speaker at the event.
Sutton has been a member of APRO for over 20 years as well as a member of the Hall of Fame and has experienced quite the journey. Dreaming big, Sutton transitioned from rental dealer to founder and CEO of multimillion-dollar franchise RNR Tire Express and Custom Wheels that is now the fastest-growing tire and custom wheel franchise in the country.
Also on the agenda is golf, a welcome reception, “Hour of Power” Hot Show, poker tournament, trade show, education sessions and the ORDA state association meeting. For more information, contact Clifford Guy at 813/361-4086, email@example.com.
Rent One’s nine-series Delivery Tech Rodeo continues with competitions held for the company’s regions 4 in Carmi, Illinois; 1 and 2 in Mt. Vernon, Illinois; 3 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri; 5 and 6 in Paragould, Arkansas; and 7 in Jackson, Tennessee on September 12-20. The six rodeos were comprised of a consistent agenda including hands-on events such as Rent One trivia, delivery and return of products, customer service calls and the chance to advance to the finals.
All participants received a carry-all clipboard storage box, LED headlamp, YETI cups and more. The first-place teams of each rodeo will go on to compete in the company-wide DT Rodeo finals on October 17 in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.
The first-place winners are listed by order of event date.
- September 12, region 4: Ryan Breazeale, Jakob Hemm and James Martin Rent One store 23 in Evansville, Indiana.
- September 13, region 1: Tad Belka and Seikura Burton from Rent One store 174 in Lawrenceville, Illinois; and David Jones from Rent One store 171 Mt. Carmel, Illinois.
- September 13, region 2: Nathan Ruff and Trevor Shute from Rent One store 74 in DuQuoin, Illinois.
- September 18, region 3: Devin Cochran, Tremaine Grant and Joshua Louis from Rent One store 57 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
- September 19, region 5: Black Hadley and Travis Jones from Rent One store 152 in Dexter, Missouri.
- September 19, region 6: Cameron Fuller and Shelby Wilson from Rent One store 141 in Searcy, Arkansas.
- September 20, region 7: Marcus Bond and Christopher Vandiver from Rent One store 33 in Brownsville, Tennessee.
SKC Enterprises, dba Rent One, is pleased to announce the appointment of Kelly Martin as its new Vice President of Corporate Strategy & Culture. This year, the company has expanded to 84 Rent One and eight RNR Tire Express locations; creating new opportunities and requiring new approaches to how they operate, think, and respond to growing needs of employees, communities, and customers.
“We are confident in the creation of this position, and the promotion of Kelly Martin to it; our goal is to proactively address the need to define and match our business strategies with our vision for a strong and inclusive culture among our most valuable asset, our people,” says Rent One CEO and APRO Board Member Larry Carrico.
Martin has worked with Rent One for the past six years in a number of leadership positions, such as regional manager and regional director, and most recently Managing Member at Imagery Marketing. In her new role, she will focus on the company’s fifth principle, “People,” which Carrico believes to be the most important out of the five—People, Product, Program, Price and Promotion.
“With increasing store counts, this shift is vital to meeting our revenue growth potential and ensuring success for everyone at every position, from delivery and wheel techs to our leadership team at corporate. We are confident this emphasis will ultimately result in enhanced customer service and stronger community impact as well,” says Carrico.
Martin will transition from Managing Member at Imagery Marketing to her new role while managing responsibilities for both companies effective immediately.
“What I love most about my experience with the company is that I have become more well-rounded. My ability to help with what is needed is quicker and faster and has only improved over the past six years,” says Martin. “Our employees are the number one thing and that’s where it hits home for me. If I can make an impact in someone else’s life, that’s what matters to me the most—it’s why I get up in the morning, and that’s why we do what we do. We make an impact in our customer’s lives, but we can’t make an impact on their lives without making a positive impact on our employees. I’m really excited to add a little extra “why” in everything we do to help bring it all together.”
APRO Associate Members Rivero, Gordimer & Company won the Small Business of the Year in the 21-50 employee category at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce 38th Annual Small Business of the Year Awards held on September 13. The ceremony highlights the positive impact of small businesses in the Tampa Bay area, while celebrating the achievements of local leaders and businesses.
The Small Business of the Year award recognizes small businesses that exemplify excellence in the areas of operational management, community involvement, and ethical business practices. This year, there were over 450 nominations and applicants across all categories.
“Our firm is honored to be nominated, survive several cuts and ultimately win this award,” says Mike Helton, CPA at Rivero, Gordimer & Company P.A. “Our team has worked hard to improve our processes, management, IT security and quality service to our clients. We thank all of our clients for trusting us and for referring other businesses to us. After 35 years we’re still improving and refining every day. We thank our founders and all of those involved on a daily basis and are deeply humbled by this honor.”
Aaron’s, Inc. recently announced the addition of Michael P. Dickerson as vice president of investor relations, effective September 5, 2018.
Dickerson served as vice president of investor relations and real estate for Gannett Co., Inc. and held similar positions at The Babcock & Wilcox Company and General Cable Corporation. In addition to nearly two decades of investor relations experience, Dickerson has held several executive finance positions with a focus on mergers and acquisitions and financial operations management. Dickerson is a CPA and an investor relations charter holder.
“We believe it’s important to further enhance our relationships with the financial community, investor communications, and our overall investor relations program,” says Aaron’s Chief Financial Officer and President of Strategic Operations Steven A. Michaels. “Mike’s experience in investor relations, combined with his executive-level finance background, makes him an ideal candidate to help us achieve these objectives.”
The recently formed Iowa-Nebraska Rental Dealers Association held its second annual meeting on Thursday, September 13. Rental dealers met in La Vista, Nebraska, to discuss the state of the rent-to-own industry—in both states and as a whole—and to elect a new board of directors.
INDRA representatives Nebraska lobbyist Matt Schaefer, his guest Senator Mark Kolterman and Iowa lobbyist Doug Struyk addressed the political climate in the region, summarized the 2018 legislative session and presented an informative legal update on what to expect in 2019.
Additional speakers included INRDA event sponsors Al Benson of Central File Marketing, WOW!Brands’ Andrew Catapano, Vice President of Rental Sales for Ashley Furniture Gary Jones, as well as APRO’s General Counsel Ed Winn III.
INDRA’s newly elected and re-elected directors are Brent Gregurek, president; Frank Rotert, vice president; Brian Luksetich, secretary and treasurer; and board members Tom Bernau, Mark Connelly, Scott Ellenwood, Lyn Leach, John Maitland, Tammy Maitland, Frank Rotert, and Ed Spuzello.