Feature Interview with Charter Capital
We recently interviewed Rick & Carey Wilbur from Charter Capital to learn more about equipment financing and the story behind their family-run business, which has been in business since 1977.
What’s your story?
“I (Rick) began the company in 1977 in Southern California. In the early years, it was predominantly a “vendor-driven” business. This means our customers were companies that sold business equipment and we offered their customers financing products for the equipment they sold. It was a ‘win-win-win’ situation because it made it easier for the vendor’s customers to acquire the equipment they needed (win) and easier for the vendors to sell more equipment (win) and we earned a fee on each transaction (win).
Before forming Charter, I worked for a company in the same industry that did and said just about anything to ‘win a deal’ and generate revenue. Many things they did made me uncomfortable about working there so, together with two salespeople, I quit and formed a new company that would operate more honorably.
For 11 years we grew the business and in 1988 we sold it to a public company that owned a number of banks and two consumer finance companies. We stayed on under new ownership to oversee and grow the business. Unfortunately, our parent company found themselves in trouble due to a major loss in their core business and was forced to sell us to a private investment firm in Portland, OR.
Culturally, we were very different than the company in Portland and in 1995, we decided to leave Southern California and start from scratch in Arizona. With the move, we downsized from 40 employees to 20 and became a family-run business. Subsequently, we bought back our original company and folded it into our Arizona business.”
“I (Carey) joined the team in Arizona soon after I graduated from San Diego State University in 1995. I was offered a job with a graphic design company, but the opportunity to work with my father and grow a business appealed to me more. I wanted to learn alongside my family and experts in the field of financing. So I moved to Arizona and helped start Charter Capital. My sister, Chelsea, joined us a few years later.”
“Since then, we have established Charter Capital as one of the most trustworthy firms in the equipment financing industry. We work closely with more than 20 lenders to offer customized solutions to match the unique business needs of our customers. “
What exactly is equipment financing and who would benefit from your services?
“Commercial equipment financing can be a benefit to any company that wants to grow, or maintain a competitive edge, or replace worn-out equipment. Intelligent management of cash flow is the most common challenge small businesses face. To give you an example, assume you own a small company that needs a new phone system. You have three options. You can ignore your immediate need and make due with old and outdated equipment, you can write a check and pay for the new equipment or you can finance the equipment and pay for it as you use it and while it is earning revenue.
Regardless of which option you chose, you need a trusted resource that can explain those options and the good and bad consequences of each. That’s exactly what we do.”
“No gimmicks, no tricks, no shortcuts, no surprises.” – Rick.
“Our success is achieved by helping our customers thrive and flourish by acquiring the equipment they need to continue or grow their business and financing it intelligently. As their businesses grow so does ours.”
What sets Charter Capital apart from other companies in the industry?“The ‘Charter Difference’ as we like to call it, is that we focus on the relationship. Other companies are mostly motivated by the transaction they are working on, or the commission they’ll receive from a particular deal. Instead, we spend our efforts developing a relationship with the client that lasts a lifetime. We’re still interested in generating revenue but the key to our success is providing real value to our customers because when we do they are likely to come back to us for all their future equipment financing needs. Today, 70% of the new business we close are with existing customers.”
What industries do you work with currently and where do you hope to expand to?“It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. All businesses can benefit from the right equipment financing product especially those companies that frequently need equipment. Some examples of our core customers are equipment rental companies, oil & gas service and support companies, transportations companies, construction companies and communication companies. The oil and gas industry and the transportation industries are unique because some banks and commercial lenders simply will not finance them based on recent economic events affecting their industry or the nature of the equipment. To accommodate our customers we searched for and developed lending relationships that will lend to those industry segments.
Our product is truly universal, and we market to a very wide range of business types. It really doesn’t matter what kind of business our customers are in and it doesn’t matter if they need our services once a month or once a year or once every five years. If they need equipment financing we will provide them with the right loan at a fair price.”
What piece of advice would you offer someone looking for equipment financing?
- Read everything, twice.
- Get everything in writing.
- Understand what you are agreeing to before you sign anything.
We offer a lot of helpful tips through great articles and papers on our website and we’ll give you advice for free.