Industry Veteran to Lead U.S. Bank Equipment Finance
by Amanda L. Gutshall October 2007
Anthony CracchioloPresident, U.S. Bank Equipment Finance
After 29 years at Citigroup, where he ran a series of leasing businesses in healthcare, electronics, energy, office equipment, technology and tax-exempt segments, Anthony “Tony” Cracchiolo joined U.S. Bank as president of its Equipment Finance Unit, succeeding Sal Maglietta, who was promoted to head of U.S. Bank’s Specialty Finance Division.
Leaving a company where he started his career and ultimately became a managing director wasn’t an easy choice — considering he had to forgo retirement and move his family across the country to Portland, OR, where the equipment leasing unit is headquartered. But, Cracchiolo doesn’t have any regrets. “I am very excited about being in the U.S. Bank family,” he says, and adds he sees in U.S. Bank a company “large enough, yet small enough to make a difference in the marketplace.”
He adds, “I take this job with great enthusiasm and interest, personally as well as professionally. I don’t think I would leave a company like Citigroup, which has a fine pedigree, for a company that I didn’t think was of equal footing.”
He is also enthusiastic of the challenges of his new group, and explains, “I see the challenge of growing a company and a franchise in the marketplace, which we are — even with only five months — well on our way to doing.”
Cracchiolo is more than up to the challenge. He graduated from City University of New York with degrees in management science, computer science and mathematics. He earned a master’s degree in computer science from New York Institute of Technology, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan Executive Program.
Among the key assignments in his many years with Citigroup, Cracchiolo ran the worldwide financial networks for the company, corporate-wide restructuring projects and all aspects of the leasing businesses, from operations to the overall management. Prior to coming on board with U.S. Bank in April, he was managing director of CitiCapital Vendor Finance for Business Technology.
Cracchiolo’s goals for his U.S. Bank unit center on becoming a critical component in the leasing industry, within the financial services sector and as a key contributor to the U.S. economy. One way the unit is doing that is by attracting additional talent to move the franchise to the next level.
“The strategy and the plan are very simple: to penetrate the markets where we have expertise and the markets we will get into [in the future] with expertise, and become a very significant player in those markets. We go up against good competition…and we have to be at that caliber and of that level of professionalism in order to achieve these goals,” he explains.
In order to stay ahead of the competition, U.S. Bank Equipment Finance hires individuals with expertise in specific industries — including machine tools, aviation or healthcare in addition to financial services — so they are in a unique position to combine both aspects of their expertise to anticipate and meet the needs, goals and activities of their customers.
Another aspect that sets the company apart, Cracchiolo says, is the brand name of U.S. Bank, because he says customers want to ensure those they are doing both business with are well-known and reputable organizations that will support them in good and challenging times.
The qualities that Cracchiolo hopes customers see in his employees are the same qualities he demonstrates as a leader. He describes himself as a Type-A manager, with a lot of energy, and leads in what he calls a reverse pyramid. “My job as senior manager is to set the direction and the goals, vision and mission, and then use my energies to help the organization achieve those. I hope that our customers see these attributes in their day-to-day interaction with our employees.”
He notes he likes to be involved in what his employees are trying to accomplish, and feels that involvement helps motivate workers and ensure buy-in to present and future goals. “I think that has a positive effect on people because it’s not just telling them what to do, it’s actually helping them do what they have to do, and they get motivated by that, I believe, because they know I’m side by side with them trying to achieve that [goal].”
Also, like any good manager, the need for open and honest communication is a must. “I believe that motivating people requires people to be up front, open and honest and very clear about what they’re trying to do so that [employees] … feel comfort that they’re going in the right direction. I think that motivates them to operate at a higher level.”
It’s this focus and challenge in putting together a good team in a segment he enjoys that also motivates Cracchiolo. He feels the equipment finance market is interesting because of the constant flow of new technologies as well as new equipment entering the market. “Companies are ultimately using this equipment in order to drive product and services into the economy. The equipment leasing industry is of an essential use in the economy.”
At U.S. Bank, he adds, the company finances a variety of equipment from ships and airplanes, to office equipment. “It’s a market that is constantly evolving and equipment is an essential component of business operations today and into the future. I see us providing an important mechanism in the economy for financing.”
But that doesn’t come without a few challenges. In a time where all the talk is of the economy and how it will shift from day to day due to certain industries, Cracchiolo notes the challenges but maintains a positive outlook of the industry into the next few years.
His major concerns stem from keeping fiscal policy in line with economic health. He is also mindful of credit pricing evaporating out of the market. “You see a lot of money chasing at very, very thin economic spreads… So I think we’re going to go through a cycle here where you’ll see financing get a little more expensive to certain customers due to more risk-based pricing in the market.”
However he doesn’t see the industry falling flat. “The industry, this year, is pretty good considering the overall disturbances that we see in certain segments. As I think the equipment leasing industry in the commercial marketplace is an essential component of business in the economy, I think it will be a stabilizing force constantly as we go forward.
He notes that the question on many minds today is what will happen in the U.S. economy now and into next year, but he adds that equipment purchases are staying relatively strong, and the firms U.S. Bank does business with are all pretty healthy. “I think it’s a good market; it will weather a lot of ups and downs today and over time, but I see it as a very strong and stable market.”
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