Grand Ole NEFA: 2022 Funding Symposium Puts Education and Growth on Display

by Chad Sluss Nov/Dec 2022
Chad Sluss, CEO of the National Equipment Finance Association, delivers a detailed recap of the organization’s 2022 Funding Symposium, which provided a plethora of educational opportunities and set a new attendance record.

Chad Sluss,
National Equipment Finance Association

The National Equipment Finance Association brought members from across North America to Nashville, TN, in early November for its 2022 Funding Symposium. Held Nov. 2-4, the conference brought in 405 attendees, its highest attendance total on record, along with 50 exhibitors and more than 30 sponsors.

The program and other event details for this phenomenal conference was put together by the association’s staff as well as the symposium’s planning committee, including co-chairs Stephanie Hall, CLFP, of Quality Equipment Finance and Jena Morgan, CLFP, of JDR Solutions. Other members of the committee included Kyle Bergeron of Blue Bridge Financial; Jeffrey Bilbrey of Leasepath; Anne Dalgaard, CLFP, of Dynamic Rentals; Beth McLean, CLFP, of Northland Capital Equipment Finance; Kim Riggs-Mounger of Orion First Financial; and Shawn Smith of Dedicated Financial GBC.

“I am proud of how the board, executive staff, co-chairs and committee members came together to create such a memorable national event, exceeding record attendance levels for any previous NEFA conference,” Jim Jackson, co-CEO of The Alta Group and 2021-2022 board president of the NEFA, said.

The conference kicked off with an axe throwing charity event, which attracted 57 participants. Smith, who is also a NEFA board member, and Lovern Gordon of Boston Financial & Equity Corporation and the Love Life Now Foundation, organized the event, whose proceeds went to benefit Safe Haven, a Nashville, TN-based shelter that helps families facing domestic violence and housing related challenges.

Due to the generosity of many members and sponsors, the event raised more than $21,000.

Focus on Leadership

The second day of the conference featured another full day of activities for attendees, with exhibitors and sponsors getting in early to set up and prepare to welcome the more than 400 attendees to their booths.

Leadership was a front-and-center topic during the event, highlighted by an introductory workshop from the team at STRIPES Leadership Program, including Blair Dawson and Lisa Rafter, as well as Denis Stypulkoski of Reimagine Advisors.

Another day two highlight was a Women in Leasing luncheon at The Hampton Social Restaurant, organized by Shari Lipski of ECS Financial Services. The regular event attracted a record-breaking 87 attendees this year.

The symposium’s planning committee brought back the CEO Townhall again this year as well. This years’ rendition featured longstanding NEFA members and industry veterans like Jackson, Paul Fogle of Quality Equipment Finance, David Lee of North Mill Equipment Finance, Brad Peterson of Channel and Bob Rinaldi of Rinaldi Advisory Services. The session, entitled “Back to the Future,” provided a historical overview of economic downturns and challenges to help the industry predict what to expect in the future.

Day two of the symposium wrapped up with the Ambassador’s Reception, which attracted more than 50 first-time attendees. The reception gave attendees the opportunity to meet the NEFA’s board of directors, membership committee and conference committee co-chairs, with a welcome reception and exhibitor networking concluding the evening and giving attendees the chance to enjoy the night and connect with industry colleagues.

Bikes and Updates

Day three was the most jam-packed day of the conference, as it featured a slew of educational offerings and networking opportunities as well as a closing event.

The day started with an exhibitor networking breakfast before keynote speaker Mark Scharenbroich, author of “Nice Bike,” offered a delightful and captivating session on the importance of connections. During Scharenbroich’s session, he asked the audience if there were any Harley Davidson motorcycle owners. Several hands were raised and Jackson was brought on stage for an entertaining interaction. Following Scharenbroich’s session, each attendee received a copy of “Nice Bike” and had the opportunity to have it signed.

At midday, the NEFA’s Annual Meeting luncheon featured many updates, industry speakers and leaders. I kicked the session off with an update on the NEFA. Currently, the association has 356 member companies, adding 85 new members in 2022 at the time of the event. The organization is positioning itself for even more exceptional growth with the recent hiring of Hannah Kroll as director of membership. Kroll will be responsible for member growth, retention and engagement. In addition to updates on the NEFA as a whole, Hall and Morgan, in their roles as co-chairs, provided conference updates for the attendees and thanked the planning committee. Jackson, whose term as president of NEFA’s board ended at the conclusion of the conference, also provided updates for members about the NEFA’s long-term plans.

NEFA’s New Board

Day three also featured the announcement of the 2022-2023 NEFA board of directors. Laura Carini of Financial Pacific Leasing, who is a past president of the NEFA’s board, and Dennis Dressler of Dressler Peters, who is a former NEFA board member, announced the members, including three new members: Ron Elwood of Navitas Credit, Scott Forrest of Bluefin Capital and Kayla Perling, CLFP, of Oakmont Capital Services. The full board is listed here:

  • President: Adam Peterson — Channel
  • Vice President: Robert Hornby — CSG Law
  • Treasurer: Jacklynn Manning, CLFP — Amur Equipment Finance
  • Secretary: Paul Fogle, CLFP — Quality Equipment Finance
  • Past President:
    • Jim Jackson — The Alta Group
    • Don Cosenza, CLFP — North Mill Equipment Finance
    • Ron Elwood, CLFP — Navitas Credit
    • Scott Forrest — Bluefin Capital
    • Kim King, CLFP — BankFinancial Equipment Finance
    • Kayla Perlinger, CLFP — Oakmont Capital Services
    • Shervin Rashti, CLFP — SLIM Capital
    • Bob Rinaldi, CLFP — Rinaldi Advisory Services
    • Shawn Smith — Dedicated Financial GBC

As the newest president of the NEFA’s board, Peterson joined Brent Hall of Alliance Funding Group as a legacy president, as each of their fathers (Oren Hall and Brad Peterson) previously presided over the association as well. To commemorate the occasion, Brent Hall presented Adam Peterson with a gavel as a gift.

After the board announcement, Randy Haug of LTi Technology Solutions provided an update on the Chris Walker Education Fund and announced the foundation’s Member of the Year Award winner, Scott Wheeler, CLFP, of Wheeler Business Consulting.

“It has always been a pleasure to work with NEFA members, its staff and the board,” Wheeler said. “Chris Walker and I served on the founding board of NEFA, and it was a personal honor to receive the Chris Walker Memorial Member of the Year award at the annual Funding Symposium.”

On day three, attendees to the funding symposium also received updates from the following industry organizations: the Certified Lease & Finance Professional Foundation, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, the newly launched Black Equipment Finance Network and Equipment Finance Cares.

Education All Day

As if the first part of day three wasn’t enough, the second half of the day was chock full of educational programs.

Robert Hornby of CSG Law; Andrew Alper of Frandzel, Robins, Bloom & Csato; and Rashti presented a session on commercial financial disclosures to a packed house.

Sara Costanzo of Weltman, Weinberg & Reis; Kirsten Hawkins of SCJ Commercial Financial Services; and Smith gave a talk on collections, with a focus on being prepared before the market changes.

Mitch Helman of Sandhills Global; Chris Lerma, CLFP, of AP Equipment Financing; Kelli Nienaber of the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation; and Nancy Pistorio, CLFP, of Madison Capital then contributed on a panel focused on strategic planning.

For a panel dedicated to cybersecurity and technology, Travis Carroll of LTi Technology Solutions; Dan Levin of Liventus; Tamara McCourt, CLFP, of Huddle Business Capital; and Bryan Parfitt of Norteq provided tips and insights, while Bilbrey spoke about Section 1071.

Following the educational sessions, Mel Vinson of the CLFP Foundation gathered all the CLFPs in attendance for a toast before the President’s Reception, which featured a dinner and exhibitor networking. After the dinner, attendees gathered at the local Whiskey River Saloon for a fundraiser for the Chris Walker Education Fund. This event featured a phenomenal band, line dancing, food and drinks. Due to the generosity of the NEFA’s members, more than $21,000 was generated for the Chris Walker Education Fund.

While this year’s conference season is coming to a close, the NEFA has already set the dates and locations for its next major events. It will hold its 2023 Finance Summit in San Diego from March 21-24 and its 2023 Funding Symposium Oct. 3-6 in San Antonio.

Chad Sluss is the CEO of the National Equipment Finance Association. Sluss has more than 20 years of association, strategic management and marketing experience from working in various industries.

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