Rick Matte: Marching Together

by Monitor Staff Vol. 48 No. 4 2021
As president and chief operating officer of Encina Equipment Finance, Rick Matte uses his years of experience at larger organizations like GE Capital to inspire and drive a strong customer-focused business strategy and an emphasis on building highly-connected teams.

Rick Matte,
President & Chief Operating Officer,
Encina Equipment Finance

Although the COVID-19 pandemic still isn’t over, with vaccination rates climbing across the United States, some semblance of normalcy is returning. However, although the immediate effects of the pandemic are fading, Rick Matte, president and chief operating officer of Encina Equipment Finance, is still keeping an eye on the latent and more long-reaching impacts of the crisis.

As Matte, who was promoted to COO in November, explains, although the “switch” has been turned back on, that doesn’t mean the economy and the equipment finance industry at large will immediately perform as they did prior to 2020. No matter what happens, Matte will make sure Encina takes stock of the impact on its customers, which is always his top priority.

“It’s easy to get caught up in what’s going on around you and take your eye off the ball, but the customer keeps the lights on,” Matte says. “People can pretty easily get distracted with projects or outside events, and COVID certainly could have allowed us to do that.”

Matte has helped Encina avoid that trap during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the former GE Capital veteran who “wanted to be a bit closer to the customer” when he first started in the equipment finance industry, a customer-focused strategy is only natural.

“One of the things that we like to make sure of is that we don’t get too internally focused,” Matte says. “We see a lot of that at big companies, those bigger organizations we used to work for, where the internal agenda becomes the predominant driver of how the business operates.”

Encina may not be a behemoth in terms of organizational structure (it currently employs roughly 30 people), but it has grown quite a bit from its launch in 2017 as a six-person operation. Since those early days, which Matte describes as “startup like,” Encina has become one of the most successful companies in the equipment finance industry, as evidenced by its presence in the Monitor 100.

As Encina’s team has grown, Matte has worked hard to foster a harmonious, entrepreneurial and tight-knit culture. That has been challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Encina’s staff going into work-from-home mode, but Matte has kept in constant communication with all team members and made sure connections have remained strong. Now the company is focusing on getting the team back together, with a goal of having the full staff back in the office by the end of July. Matte thinks this will be particularly important for Encina’s junior staff members and the newest members of the team, many of whom were hired after the pandemic set in last March.

“It’s not a big team, but if you’re not seeing the full team, you feel like you’re sort of on an island, and we didn’t want our team to have that feeling,” Matte says.

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