Equally important to advancing the industry and the interest of those in it, are those savvy practitioners that have accumulated a lifelong transaction resume that spanned many industries, structures, and resources. Leasing News gave special consideration to those whose talents bridged many segments and company affiliations larger and smaller. These persons, in designing and completing large transactions of size, or small transactions in volume, repeatedly over many years came to change the course of industry events and are widely recognized as the industry's multi-talented practitioners: The Top 25 Most
Influential, according to Leasing News readers.
A.J. Batt-- Formerly the CEO & Chairman of ATEL. Batt started in the industry in 1977 and worked his way up from being a small shop in San Francisco selling off deals to banks such as BofA, to running a 150 person operation using public income funds to invest in Operating Leases for Large Ticket transactions. He wrote the first "Leasing Software" called LEAH II in the early 80's. Originally a NASA engineer Batt knew numbers… and had a reputation of using the numbers to make leases work.
Stephen C. Bieneman- Currently President and Chairman of Compass Capital Corporation. Over his 35 years in business, Bieneman financed over $5 billion of equipment and managed all integral parts of an equipment leasing organization. Prior to founding Compass in 1991, Bieneman was founder, President and Chairman of Pegasus Capital Corporation from 1988 to 1990. During that time, Pegasus became a leading operating lessor of commercial aircraft, financing over 60 commercial jet transports with a combined value in excess of $1 billion.
John P. Colton-- Colton was the right hand man to Paul Gass as together they built Eaton Financial. His role was to attract discounters and brokers, becoming active in the industry, serving as president of the American Association of Equipment Lessors, as well as being active in other leasing associations. After Eaton was sold, Colton rejoined Paul Gass at BankVest Capital and retired in 2000.
Thomas Depping-- founder of Sierra Cities and Main Street Bank; Depping organized one large company by combining many smaller successful operations in a roll-up strategy; he was a major influence in securitization and how business is conducted, perhaps revolutionizing the way business is done today in private label programs. In hindsight, the roll-up strategy affected many but did not lead to efficiencies and progress for all; rather, the ultimate breakdown of this strategy was impactful on the business but many say negatively.
Thomas Depping, founder of Sierra Cities and Main Street Bank; organized a large company by combining many smaller successful operations into one; major influence in securitization and how business is conducted, perhaps revolutionized the way business is done today in the private label program. What he did prove is acquiring a bunch of smaller, independent leasing companies with a strong management team is failure which did influence a course of events but in a negative way.
Al Gamper, Jr..-Formerly CIT Chairman and CEO Gamper led the company through two tumultuous periods connected with Tyco. Gamper originally joined Manufacturers Hanover, working his way up to the top, expanding the company overseas, building the company to $50 billion in assets before his retirement in 2004. His last stock raising tour was reputed to be a triumph. A leader in commercial finance who in his watch may have been a beneficial influence on the entire banking and financial industry.
Paul Gass-- Gass' company, Eaton Financial, was purchased by AT&T Capital for $70 million in 1989, possibly making Gass the richest man in leasing at the time. After he sold Eaton to AT&T he became the largest individual shareholder in AT&T and was a substantial underwriter of the American Association of Equipment Lessors lease education foundation. He paired up with Greg Smith to form BankVest securitizing $30 million per month small ticket machine. (See also "John P. Colton".)
J. Stephen (Steve) Gagne-- Gagne's copier leasing company, VMS Leasing (which later became part of Dana Corporation) impacted the captive lessor market place with outsourcing from Apple, AST, Compaq, IBM, Kaypro, NEC, Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Merisel as well as MicroAge, ComputerLand, expanding to Canada, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and France. Gagne sold out to Heller Financial in late 1998 for nearly three times book value. At Heller, Gagne served as President of Global Vendor Finance until his retirement in January 2000.
Harvey Granat- Granat founded and was CEO of Granite Equipment Leasing Corp., one of the first American Stock Exchange listed leasing companies. He also was president and CEO of Sussex Leasing Corp., Sterling/Carl Marks Capital, Inc., and Past President of The American Association of Equipment Lessors. He is a frequent lecturer and contributor of articles related to financial services, and has participated at the White House Conference on Small Business.
Stephen R. Harwood-- Former president of CIS Equipment Leasing, Harwood founded Cypress Leasing in San Francisco in 1985. In addition to operating leases, the company is a leader in purchasing existing equipment, re-leasing or providing sale/leasebacks, managing investment programs and their own lines of credit. Cypress is one of the few income fund companies to enjoy a long term track record of success while focusing on select, large ticket transactions, and at almost 25 years old Cypress is not the largest but may be the best run of the income fund companies.
Curt Lysne-Lysne was formerly head of both GE Capital and Colonial Pacific's credit department and their chief sales officer. In both capacities Lysne managed (directly or indirectly) relationships with over 400 brokers. In these roles he has a reputation of always maintaining the highest levels of professional standards and ethics. Some say he exemplifies what a leader in this industry should possess and as such acts as a great role model to others. Lysne has served on many of the industry associations and is always willing to contribute to forums and round tables.
John McCue-McCue, founder of McCue Systems (now part of NetSol International), was a leader in the development of financial software for leasing. He developed software to run on many computer systems with other software interfaces, and hence became a leader in software technology and industrial forums. McCue was once active in several associations on committees and boards, and is now retired.
Dan Michalek -- Michalek was the founder of Connor Capital Corporation (which was sold to Linc Capital, Inc.) and later founded Paynet, where he was the first chairman whose payment history reports have become the standard for larger lessors in the commercial leasing industry. Paynet is sponsored both by the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association and Experian, as well as "partnering" with InfoCentricity.
Jim Merrilees-Merrilees, now with QuikTrak, was first to develop a "wide area network" BLISS before the days of the internet. Steered the Pegasus dealer program, and under his watch a computer credit scoring profile for both vendor and broker business in a highly quick process. The internet version of BLISS, BLISSnet, was created long after Jim had left the company. Jim's "influence" is through his contribution to solving myriad issues found in the industry.
Alan J. Mogol, Attorney
-Mogol, over the last 25+ years, created a large volume of the middle market lease documentation currently used by the majority of the larger bank and finance companies in the industry; including standard forms of lease documentation as well as industry standard syndication, assignment, notice of assignment, participation and motor vehicle titling trust documents. Much of what Mogol has created is considered de facto industry standard in the bank middle market space. He is a frequent lecturer and author in the equipment financing area.
Ned Mundell-- Mundell was chairman and CEO of U.S. Leasing International from the 1970s until just after the company was sold to Ford Motor Company in 1987. During that period of time, he led US Leasing to a position of being the largest independent leasing company (NYSE public company) in the United States, and amongst the largest in the world. He brought the company to international markets in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, forging banking and finance partnerships with some of the largest companies in the world. He sold the company for $68 a share in 1987, far exceeding the company's equity value in the markets at the time.
David Murray-- Murray co-founded Direct Capital/Preferred Lease, f the first telemarketing company based on computer program information, copied by many today. The company hired college students and young executives to follow a script, and then sold the originated leases off in groups to funders. He also used the TransLeasing model for using a leasing credit card. He was innovative in that he sent everyone a "pre-approved" card in a mass marketing campaign. Murray's marketing techniques are still being utilized by many companies today.
Walter Rabin-Rabin created a platform that went from start-up to over $1.4B in 10 years. His company, All Points Capital, is a major funding source for the broker community, especially in the Northeast, today it is a Capital One Bank company.
Jim Renner-- Head of Wells Fargo's leasing and equipment finance business for over 13 years, Renner led the growth of the portfolio during his tenure from $530 million to $7.5 billion. When he retired in 2005 there were 40 locations and 375 employees nationwide who make up Wells Fargo Equipment Finance, Inc. (WFEFI) in the U.S. and Canada. He was active in many committees, past chairman of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association as well as trustee and chairman of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Foundation.
Gary Shivers-- Co-founder and former president of Marlin Leasing and current President of Navitas. Shivers helped Marlin go public and it remains are one of the few micro-ticket leasing companies that has done so.
Rick Remiker---Outspoken, active, highly respected. He was president and COO, Commercial Leasing at Key Equipment Finance, managing director and group head of the equipment finance group at Merrill Lynch, and now Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer of RBS Asset Finance, Inc. Your news publication has quoted him often, and noted his involvement in the industry. He speaks up and your readers listen. I know I do.
Gary Shivers--Co-founder and former president of Marlin Leasing and current President of Navitas. He helped Marlin go public and they are one of the few micro-ticket leasing companies that has done so. As a former employee at Marlin, I know that people valued him as a true sales champion and he is clearly missed there currently! I followed him to Navitas when Marlin's Chicago office closed and was pleasantly surprised that I was not the first (or likely the last) ex-Marlin employee to make this switch which should be a great testament to Gary.
Saul P. Steinberg-- Steinberg began leasing IBM Computers, forming Leasco, purchasing Reliance Insurance in 1968. For the next 30 years Steinberg used Reliance, and its steady cash flows, to finance numerous acquisitions and became a major figure in finance beyond equipment leasing.
Robert W. Stubbs-- Founder of Tricontinental Leasing in St. Louis, Stubbs relocated to Paramus, NJ when it was purchased by Yegen Assoc. The company was later bought by Bell Atlantic. Stubbs then bought back the TriCon leasing division and then sold it to Bell Atlantic as AT&T was breaking up in the early 80s. Stubbs was Chairman of Equipment Leasing and Finance Association prior to retiring.
Ron Wagner-Wagner is a long time veteran in the leasing industry, active in several leasing associations, 1990 WAEL President, and had an illustrious career, reputed to conduct leadership and high ethics by example. The Pentech Financial Navigator Program was run by Wagner who put together the team that successfully funded over $300 Million in small ticket leases, many already turned down by US Bank Manifest.
Paul B. Weiss-- Weiss began his career in portfolio acquisitions and became among the best known buyers of capital equipment portfolios beginning in the late 1980s. As bank credit for large acquisitions became tight in the 1990s Weiss worked on innovative financing structures including finding new ways to structure transactions that had considerable residual value upside. In partnership with Beau Clarke, Weiss acquired ICON Capital in 1996 and introduced the first sizable portfolio acquisition strategy to a public fundraising vehicle. ICON, the floundering, became one of the largest independently owned leasing companies; the largest public leasing program sponsor in that industry's history, changing the way that industry operating and causing many imitators who were unable to match ICON's dramatic success. He sold out in 2006 and today is Chairman of a San Francisco investment banking and advisory firm.
David Wiener-- Wiener structured and executed over 700 transactions totaling $2.3 billion. He has created full capital markets deal placement capabilities for 3 separate to 10 vendor finance organizations. In 1981 when the Economic Tax Recovery Act was enacted, Wiener engineered 47 tax benefit transfer leases - purportedly the most executed in the U.S. His transaction resume includes an aggregate of $195 million of financing for California's Bay Area Rapid Transit System and the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority.