Elkhart, Ind.-based builder Echo RV LLC announced that TCF Inventory Finance Inc. (TCFIF) has been approved as a floorplan finance provider in the United States and Canada.
According to a press release, TCFIF’s financing program will provide Echo RV dealers with competitive rates, a flexible curtailment structure and dedicated customer service.
The release stated that “TCFIF and its experienced, customer-focused, floorplan professionals are dedicated to providing dealers with inventory financing solutions that complement their businesses and help them grow profitably.”
TCFIF is a premier inventory finance company offering a full range of inventory financing solutions to manufacturers, distributors and their dealers throughout the United States and Canada to a variety of sectors, including the recreation vehicle, marine and powersports industries.
Four years after the height of the economic downturn, North American RV industry participants believe they’re heading in the right direction, according to results of a survey conducted by GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF) business unit of 150 attendees at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 50th National RV Trade Show.
“I think the biggest thing I take away from this survey is that, as dealers are looking out at 2013, they feel relatively optimistic about their opportunities,” reports Tim Hyland, commercial leader of CDF’s RV group, upon on the release this morning (Dec. 10) of the results of a survey circulated Nov. 26-28 during the Louisville Show.
• 43% of survey respondents expect sales to increase 5% to 10% in 2013.
• 27% were most optimistic about consumer demand going into next year.
• 29%, a similar percentage, listed that same issue — consumer demand – as their biggest business concern followed by qualms over financing solutions and product affordability and availability.
“These survey results are consistent with what we are seeing in the market and hearing from our customers,” said Hyland, a 19-year GE sales veteran. “Consumer demand drives the industry, so it’s naturally an area of optimism as well as concern. However, economic indicators, such as an uptick in housing starts, give us reason to believe that 2013 will be a good year for RV sales.”
Hyland wasn’t surprised by the extent of survey respondents’ optimism with regard to 2013 and the fact that they actually marginally exceeded those of RVIA’s own prognosticator, economist Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan’s Consumer Survey Research Center.
“You know, we looked at this earlier in the year and, again, we were looking at 3% to 4% growth,” Hyland told RVBUSINESS.com. “I read recently that RVIA is predicting shipments up about 4 1/2% for next year, and so a 5% to 10% growth range on behalf of the dealers is reasonable for what we’re seeing. You know, as far as what we see ourselves, inventory levels are solid and turning. So, it’s a positive indicator.”
Nor does Hyland see any inconsistencies in respondents’ level of concern over credit availability. “The fact that a significant number of the survey subjects at Louisville expressed some concern about consumer demand and credit availability is probably not a complete surprise,” Hyland noted, adding that he feels that floorplan lending – GE’s chief service to North America RV dealers — continues to ease.
“Yeah, I think that when we look out at the market,” he added, “we see that on the wholesale side there is significant availability in the marketplace and we therefore don’t view that as a concern for the dealer base in the market right now.”
Fifty percent of the Louisville Show survey’s subjects, in turn, told GE that the trend that will most likely have the largest impact on the RV industry in the year ahead is the popularity of “base” or low-cost models. In a response that mirrors recent RVIA shipment reports, an overwhelming 70% of survey respondents said travel trailers would be in highest demand, with fifth-wheel trailers a distant second at 15%.
“During the downturn, the market shifted more towards the towable side of the business because it’s a more affordable way for people to enjoy the RV lifestyle,” said Hyland. “And today, consumers are still looking at value. But the market appears to be supporting higher dollar values as well, which bodes well for all price points across the industry. Towables are doing really well, but motorized is coming back, and we expect to see improvement across all price points and classes.”
Bottom line, said Hyland, the survey provides further evidence of the fact that the industry continues to heal from the Great Recession. “Yes, there tends to be a strong correlation between housing and consumer confidence, being that housing tends to be the largest asset that people own. So, as you see housing improve, you would expect to see consumer confidence improving. And I think we, based on that, expect to see continuing improvement in 2013.”
Ally Financial Inc., the auto lender 74 percent-owned by the U.S. government, swung to a third-quarter profit, helped by its strong auto-lending and mortgage businesses.
Reuters reported that the Detroit-based lender said it earned $384 million in the quarter, compared with a loss of $210 million a year earlier. Ally entered the RV lending market in June of 2010.
The company’s mortgage operations, excluding Residential Capital, reported a pre-tax income of $354 million, compared to just $13 million a year ago.
The residential capital mortgage unit filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 14 to insulate the parent company from mortgage liabilities.
U.S. automotive earning assets rose 21% in the quarter and net financing revenue was up 22% in the United States.
Ally, previously known as GMAC Financial, was once the auto lending arm of what is now General Motors Co.
The company received $17 billion in bailouts from the U.S. government during the financial crisis and has been selling assets to repay the money.
Editor’s Note: The following is a column that appeared in the August 2012 issue of RV Executive Today by RVDA Chairman Andy Heck. It outlines some key ways consumers benefit from dealer-assisted financing.
This fall, as we all know, is a presidential election year, and there are also many races for Senate and Congress. The individuals who are elected will play a role in certain aspects of how we run our dealerships.
One issue that continues to be on the forefront for all of us is dealer-assisted financing. We have talked often about this subject at our convention and through RV Executive Today during the past couple of years.
Some groups, including the Center for Responsible Lending, are pushing lawmakers and regulators for additional restrictions on vehicle financing – restrictions that could hurt RV dealers and the entire motor vehicle industry.
A new white paper by Northwood University calls dealer-assisted financing for vehicle purchases a “wonderful example of a free and competitive market which adds multiple choices for consumers.”
The study says dealers often gather all of the important and necessary financial information from the customer during the sales process, saving the customer the effort of a separate trip to a financial institution to provide the same information.
Gathering this information up front reduces the financial institution’s cost of processing the loan. Dealers also absorb the direct and indirect costs of marketing, transacting, and meeting federal and state point-of-sale compliance regulations that accompany financing. In short, says the study, dealers reduce the loan’s retail distribution cost.
“In many cases the customer would not save money by obtaining financing via a direct loan from a financial institution,” according to the study. “In fact, dealer-arranged financing rates are often more competitive than those offered by direct lenders. In order to serve their customers’ financing needs, dealers must be prepared to meet or beat the lowest APR offered to their customers by direct lenders.”
My dealership has had many customers who wanted to do loans through their local banks. But some of those local banks don’t have an RV program, so the customer, by financing through us, saved lots of money.
Many of you will have the opportunity to meet with national-level candidates. It’s important to tell them about the impact that some of this proposed legislation would have and about how dealers do, in fact, help customers.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has published the 2011 Survey of Lenders’ Experiences, a publication detailing the results of the association’s annual nationwide survey of financial institutions concerning their RV lending portfolios.
According to a press release, the report provides an in-depth look at key data from both the wholesale and retail indirect RV lending markets and illustrates why RV loans are an attractive product for financial institutions to include in their portfolios.
With the RV market recovering and the dollar volume for RV lending on the rise, the information shows that RV financing continues to be a profitable market for banks, especially when considering the delinquency rate for RV loans continues to be among the lowest of other consumer loans tracked by the American Bank Association.
In documenting the stability and potential profitability of RV loans, the 2011 Survey of Lenders’ Experiences is a helpful tool for industry members to use educating banks and financial institutions about the RV lending market.
RVIA has mailed complimentary copies of the publication to dealer, manufacturer and finance contacts. Copies are available for purchase in the publications store on www.rvia.org for $30.
The 2011 Survey of Lenders’ Experiences focuses on the largest lenders in the wholesale and retail indirect markets that together constitute approximately 80% of national lending activity.
The research was conducted by Robert Hitlin Research Associates under the direction of RVIA’s Financial Services Committee, chaired by Bob Parish of GE Capital.
Over the past decade, there have been several significant F&I regulatory requirements placed on motor vehicle and RV dealers, including the Safeguards Rule, Privacy and Red Flag Rules, and Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. According to the latest RV Executive Today Online from the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), each brings certain compliance duties for dealers.
Most recently, the FTC held public hearings on motor vehicle finance related topics. Although the agency hasn’t yet announced any proposed regulations, it’s expected to do so soon. Industry analysts anticipate that it may issue rules prohibiting or limiting traditional dealer practices like spot deliveries, rate markups, and certain aftermarket selling practices.
The FTC is already investigating dealership Privacy Rule practices and will likely make examples of several dealerships in the future to highlight the lack of compliance. It’s vital that dealers understand they must have written, regularly updated compliance plans.
RVDA has published compliance guides on many of these subjects and has extensive information on the RVDA Government Relations website. In addition, the August edition of RV Executive Today will include a regulatory overview by RVDA Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs Brett Richardson.
Ally Financial announces the addition of Bruce Jackson to the position of national sales director, according to a press release. He will report to Tim Russi, executive vice president, North American Auto Operations.
In this role, Jackson will be responsible for identifying growth opportunities to build the company’s diversified dealer relationships in the U.S. market. His duties also include expanding Ally’s business in the recreational vehicle market. Ed Arienti, Ally’s director, finance for the RV business will report to Jackson.
Prior to joining Ally, Jackson served as senior vice president, dealer financial services at Bank of America, a position held since 1997. He began his career in 1991 with Toyota Motor Credit Corporation in Houston.
“Bruce brings tremendous skills and expertise to the Ally Auto team,” said Tim Russi. “His experience in exceeding growth targets and building strong relationships throughout his career will allow us to continue accelerating our growth plans in our diversified channel.”
Northpoint Commercial Finance LLC, a newly formed inventory finance company based in Alpharetta, Ga., recently announced members of its new sales team. They include:
• Russell Baqir, vice president of sales, is leading Northpoint’s sales team and is based in the Alpharetta. Most recently Marine Division President of Textron Financial, Baqir has 24-plus years of distribution finance experience within all industries that Northpoint serves. In addition to leadership duties, Baqir will also cover the states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. He can be reached at (678) 359-6336 or email@example.com.
• Milt Kirk, director of business development, is based in Maine and has 29-plus years of business development/floorplan finance experience with companies such as International Harvester, Borg Warner, Bombardier, and Textron Financial. Kirk will cover the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. He can be reached at (207) 951-2265 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Jim Regan, director of business development, is based in Alabama and has 25-plus years of floorplan finance experience in credit, operations and sales with companies such as ITT, Borg Warner, Bombardier, GE, and Textron Financial. Regan will cover the states of Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. He can be reached at (205) 471-0826 or email@example.com.
• Tommy Fox, director of business development, joins Northpoint later this month and will be based in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area. Fox has 20-plus years of business development/floorplan finance experience with companies such as ITT, Green Tree, Vanderbilt Mortgage, Textron Financial, and Textron (Jacobsen). Fox will cover the states of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Richard Molyneux, director of business development, joins Northpoint later this month and will be based in Arizona. Molyneux has 32-plus years of floorplan finance experience in credit, operations and sales with companies such as ITT, Green Tree, GE, and Textron Financial. Richard will cover the states of Arizona, Southern California, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. He can be reached at (928) 255-5844 or email@example.com.
• Jeff Olander Sr., director of business development, is based in Nevada and most recently was senior vice president with Textron Financial. Olander has 29 years of sales management and business development experience with companies such as ITT, Green Tree and Textron Financial. Olander will cover the states of Nevada, Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. He can be reached at (314) 435-4345 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northpoint , led by CEO Dan Radley, provides commercial loans for distributors and dealers in a variety of industries, including recreational vehicles, throughout the United States. The company is majority owned by certain affiliates of Perella Weinberg Partners’ Asset Based Value strategy.
GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF) today (June 14) announced significant upgrades to its online inventory finance management tool used by dealers across a wide range of industries, including recreational vehicle, marine, motorsports, technology, and lawn and garden.
In addition, in most of these industries dealers will now have access to CDF’s industry-leading data analysis, Analytics Online, according to a news release.
Known as COMS (Customer Online Management System), CDF’s upgraded online tool is being rolled out to more than 45,000 users at dealers across the U.S., Canada and Asia. CDF said that users will process transactions more simply and access detailed metrics and real-time reports to make more informed decisions. Visit CDF’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/GECDF to watch a video about COMS.
“Our dealer community will benefit from these upgrades by getting information they need to run their businesses more quickly and easily,” said Anuj Gaur, CDF’s chief information officer. “We’ve provided a robust tool that’s simple to use, allowing them to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time with their customers.”
With Analytics Online, a user can view outstandings and wholesale finance volume over a rolling 12-month period, across multiple manufacturers and distributors, and across selling seasons. CDF said that with these insights, the user can gain a better understanding of product demand based on previous seasons and order their optimal level of inventory.
Editor’s Note: In a memo to its RV dealer clients distributed earlier today (May 14), Ally Financial outlined an array of strategic actions intended to “strengthen the company’s longer term financial profile, accelerate repayment of the U.S. Treasury’s investment and further grow our leading U.S.-based automotive/RV services and direct banking franchises.” Here’s the thrust of that memo:
“First, the mortgage subsidiary of Ally Financial Inc., Residential Capital LLC (ResCap), filed for Chapter 11. Be assured, Ally Financial, Ally Bank and all other Ally entities are not part of the ResCap Chapter 11 and there is no change or interruption to our business operations as a result.
“ResCap’s plan includes proposed settlements among Ally, ResCap and certain of ResCap’s creditors that provides for resolution of all existing and potential claims between Ally and ResCap, as well as a release of all existing or potential causes of action against Ally by third parties. The settlements are subject to court approval. Ally’s equity interest in ResCap will be written-down to zero. ResCap and its origination and servicing platform are expected to operate in the ordinary course during this process, preserving more than 3,500 jobs.
“Secondly, Ally Financial will launch a process to explore strategic alternatives for its international operations. Our international businesses represent strong franchises in each of their respective countries, and we aim to maximize shareholder value in a timely manner, while also protecting the interests of the dealers and automakers that the company serves.
“These actions will enable Ally to further invest in our leading U.S. automotive/RV services and direct banking franchises and be best positioned to return additional capital to the U.S. taxpayer. To date, Ally has paid approximately $5.5 billion to the U.S. Treasury, representing about one third of the investment. Upon successful completion of the announced strategic initiatives, Ally expects to return at least another third of the total investment by year-end.
“We believe that our U.S. Auto/RV platform and Ally Bank together provide a winning combination in serving the needs of dealers and their customers.”