ELA Fleming Exclusive Leasing Today
“You’ve got to hand it to our members in business today, “ Equipment Leasing Association President Mike Fleming, CAE, told Leasing News in an exclusive interview .“They are trying something new, adapting, have hope... and are making it a go. Our lessors are not waiting for the cycle to change. They are doing
something about it. ”
ELA reports in its latest online quick poll that out of 118 respondents, 61% say that once the uncertainties of a war are behind us their customer swill begin ordering equipment. 39% answered “no,” whether or not customers would begin ordering equipment.
Fleming heads the oldest and largest equipment leasing association in the United
States. He believes the “war in Iraq” affect on business may be “ a key” or “the
key” to economic conditions, but that “ over capacity” may be more relevant than
“uncertainty,” plus the availability of funds for all strata in equipment leasing.
“Most lessors work on hope, that the cycle will start again, and that’s what
the poll indicates, “ he explained. “ It certainly is a niche market industry, apparently the most active is healthcare ; transportation, technology, and manufacturing are off. Many hope that when the war is over in a few weeks, it may change. However the facts are the travel industry is fundamentally not sound with lessors taking back airplanes; airlines in default on large leases, plus the public not traveling as they did a few years ago. The IT and telecom industry is also not in the mode of buying as they did in the 1990’s.
“The question also is how much needs to be replaced, as it appears software is
the major growth area in the IT and telecom industry, “ he remarked. “The condition is that business has become so cautious that they are finding ways to make do with what they have, cut back, not replace anything, make workers more productive, find ways to survive.
“In our industry, funding is a real problem, especially for the none-bank/non-captive lessors who need equity to grow, all kinds of debt and access to securititization. The fact is it is difficult and will be difficult for some time, so
the game then is different, and business is not just going to come in through the
“The poll really reflects an attitude we saw last Spring, around this time,
when respondents were seeing overcapacity, and their customers were becoming more cautious.”
Fleming believes equipment leasing will remain “popular” with business. Of the $697 billion spent by American business on productive assets in 2002, $216 billion, or 31 percent, was acquired through leasing. In 2002, that figure is estimated at $204 billion. The projected 2003 volume is $208 billion.
“A group of large ticket lessors recently had a meeting where they labeled
it ‘economy to get better in 2005,’ he said, adding, “ but I have also heard “business will get better in the second half, but we just don’t know which year.”
Throughout his career, Fleming has been involved in economic and political activity. He has been a teacher, lobbyist, political organizer, and trade association executive. Prior to serving as ELA President, Fleming managed state associations in Iowa and South Carolina. Mr. Fleming is devoted to the concepts of strong, active business leadership and believes that associations are most effective when they act in a proactive mode on behalf of their members.
Fleming earned a BA in Political Science and History and an MA in History and Economics with honors from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. He has done additional postgraduate work at several other major universities.
Fleming is an active member of several professional and economic groups. He is a past chancellor of the Exchequer Club of Washington, the organization for all financial industry trade associations and federal agencies in the financial services sector. He also served on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). He is currently a member of the Board of Governors of the City Club of Washington. He has been active in the business organizations of each major political party during his tenure at ELA. He is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Committee of 100.