In the wake of the crash of 2008, the leasing market was in double trouble: the securitization market had dried up while the demand for auto leases plummeted.
So the folks at Corpfinance started thinking about getting into the retail side, even though it was hobbling along with the rest. Now, that seems counterintuitive to most, but Kevin Andrews, CFI’s president and CEO, argues there was method in what appeared to others to be madness.
“We looked at leasing companies. They were all struggling. There was an opportunity to consolidate and wring efficiencies out of the business.”
Andrews was celebrating the official opening on May 26 of the new showroom of Landmark Leasing and Palladini Leasing in the Toronto area.
CFI bought another leasing company, AutoOne Leasing in Vancouver.
He concedes that moving from financing vehicle lease companies to running three of them will be a challenge, among them acquiring vehicles, dealing with the public as well as collections and, yes, repossessions. But he’s optimistic.
The economy is on the mend, he says, and with it consumer confidence. All are good omens for the venture.
In a showroom lined with eye-catching exotics such as a Ford Shelby GT350 and a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722, he stresses that CFI is “flexible” in its approach. To make his point he draws the reporter’s attention to a white GMC Savana panel van at the back of the showroom; nearby the McLaren sits a Toyota Matrix. There are smart cars and Civics elsewhere on the lot.
CFI will be going after the fleet market with vehicles like the Savana as well. And it will be leasing used and new and become a member of the Used Car Dealers’ Association
The new facility even boasts 10 service bays. They’re intended not only to prep vehicles for the showroom, but to service customers’ vehicles as well.
“You’ve got to be flexible,” Andrews says.