C.R. Firm Sees Opportunities in Recession

posted by George C. Ford on Friday, March 27, 2009

CEDAR RAPIDS — Where many of his competitors are hunkering down in the current economy, Tony Golobic sees great opportunities. 

“In challenging economic times, you can react two ways,” said Golobic, chairman and chief executive of GreatAmerica Leasing Corp. in Cedar Rapids. 

“You can either run into the basement and hide, or you can be outside and take everybody else’s business. We’ve decided to use this as an opportunity and not view it as a moment of danger.”

Golobic’s strategy worked in 2008 when The Monitor, an industry publication, ranked GreatAmerica No. 2 in new business volume among privately-owned independent leasing and financing companies doing business in the United States. The company, which provides lease financing for office, telecommunications and medical equipment, posted a 14.4 percent gain in new business volume from 2007 to 2008. 

Golobic said GreatAmerica Leasing has been able to attract some quality dealers as customers. 

“The dealers that are coming to us will stay with us once this whole thing is over,” he said. “We’ve been talking to many of these dealers before, but because they were loyal to their bank, it was much harder for them to come to us.”

Golobic, who founded GreatAmerica Leasing 16 years ago, said the company also has been growing because it has been building a platform of value-added propositions.  “We are doing a lot of things to make our dealers more successful,” he said. “We offer our dealers products they could not afford to have on their own. We buy the software license and we give it to our dealers for pennies on the dollar.  “That puts our dealers on the same level as a large national chain of dealers. They can offer services like remote meter reading, remote diagnostics, or the ability to manage a fleet of printers in places where there is the greatest traffic for customers.”

Golobic called the current economic climate “very stressful.” “This is the second consecutive downturn in this industry,” he said. “There are quite a few companies that have gone out of business.  “We have been growing, along with U.S. Bancorp and De Lage Landen, a subsidiary of Rabobank Group. Everybody else has been shrinking.”

Golobic said GreatAmerica is ranked highly among its dealers, but it has higher rates than many of its competitors and is very selective about extending credit.  “Our dealers are willing to pay us more because they know we’re going to still be around in 10 years,” he said. “They also know we’re going to provide great customer service and help them be successful. And when they’re successful, we will be successful.”

About The Author

Business Writer at Gazette Communications (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), Financial Editor at the Gazette

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