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GSG Financial: A Nimble Strategy and Traditional Values Lead a Growing Independent

Date: Dec 04, 2013 @ 07:00 AM

In May, 2013, Graphic Savings Group announced the company’s name change to GSG Financial as part of a larger rebranding effort to emphasize the company’s expanding commitment to offer financing services to both the vendor and end-user markets in multiple equipment sectors. Equipment Finance Advisor caught up with Andrew Bender, CEO and Kiran Kapur, President of GSG Financial to learn more about the company’s go-to-market strategy and goals as an independent finance company serving two distinct segments of the equipment finance industry.

Equipment Finance Advisor: GSG Financial’s roots trace back to the graphic arts industry – from the days of a family-owned company started by Jeffrey J. Bender – JJ Bender LLC, a value-added reseller of graphic arts and commercial printing equipment, to Graphic Savings Group, and most recently to GSG Financial. How has your company evolved from a graphic arts and printing equipment reseller to a leasing company now covering multiple equipment types?

Andrew Bender: I’m very proud of the business my father started in the 1980s – JJ Bender.  Prior to starting JJ Bender, he was a Xerox salesperson and he identified an opportunity to build and grow a VAR business that eventually became the world’s largest remarketer of previously owned digital presses.

Photo of Andrew A. Bender - Chief Executive Officer - GSG Financial LLC

I grew up in the family business and later went to law school and practiced law until 2003. In 2003, I saw an opportunity to take the leasing company JJ Bender had built and create a full service leasing business.  Originally we named the company Graphic Savings Group because we were primarily serving the printing and graphics arts industry. As our business grew, we realized our strengths included a unique level of personalized service and the support our customer base required, so we expanded into additional equipment verticals and began supporting our end-users as well. Eventually we realized Graphic Savings Group – which was doing business as GSG Leasing – wasn’t capturing the full scope of our business, so we rebranded under GSG Financial in early 2013 to emphasize the company’s commitment to expanding its product offerings and increasing its focus on vendors and end-users. To this day, the company carries many of the same values my father created and carried throughout his career – building long-term relationships with our customers.

Equipment Finance Advisor: Over the past year, GSG Financial has issued numerous press releases including the October 21st announcement regarding GSG’s launch of both end-user and vendor finance business units. Please explain the rationale behind the timing of the decision to enter both segments of equipment finance.

Bender: We had an exciting opportunity to take our business to the next level and I realized I needed someone like Kiran Kapur, our president, to help me develop it. Kiran brings to GSG a very diverse set of skills with over 20 years in senior leadership roles driving business growth and transformation, with much of that being within the equipment finance industry. So I will turn to Kiran answer this question.

Kiran Kapur:  As I look at our business today, we are really just formalizing what Andrew has built and been doing for many years. Part of the discussions we had prior to my joining GSG focused on how the business was executing in the marketplace and if the operations were capable of serving both end-users and vendors in ways each segments requires; recognizing both require a strong focus on service delivery and operational efficiency. We quickly realized the pieces were already in place to move forward in both markets. As far as timing goes, I think there’s a comeback happening in the industry, and as the industry continues to strengthen, we see many pockets that are underserved in both market segments. That is where our efforts will be focused.

Photo of Kiran Kapur - President - GSG Financial LLC

Equipment Finance Advisor: What types of vendor and end-user relationships is GSG is pursuing in these markets?

Kapur: On the vendor side we focus on relationships with vendors that truly control the entire sales process – those that have direct customer relationships and are perhaps struggling to embed and integrate financing as part of their go-to-market model. Today, major manufacturers and vendors have very well-designed and developed programs with very robust offerings. But as you move down the food chain into the delivery channels, those solutions tend to get watered down. We’ve seen that occur at a greater pace since the financial crisis. We believe there’s a good deal of opportunity to meet a need in these underserved markets within the value chains of many different industry sectors.

On the end-user side, we can be somewhat more opportunistic in the business we pursue recognizing we are developing expertise across certain asset types and classes. We see a big opportunity to grow the end-user part of the business as our footprint grows and we expand our end-user team.  We are in the right place, at the right time in my mind and we do not want to put too many barriers around the business in terms of asset classes, ticket sizes or credit profiles. This would cause us to constrain our business and ultimately not fill the need that is evident in the marketplace. Therefore, we are focused on what the front end of the business needs in order to execute for vendors and end-users, and will continually refine our business model to meet those needs.

Equipment Finance Advisor: GSG focuses on multiple equipment types including Materials Handling, Office Products, Graphic Arts, IT/Software, Mailing/Packaging and Energy (GSG Energy Finance). Do GSG sales representatives work within in all industries (generalists), or are you building a team of specialists in these equipment sectors? Are the sales groups for the vendor focus and end-user focus separate?

Kapur: Yes, the teams are separate and we’ve already started to build them. For example, we recently hired John Hays (formerly with CIT Group) as our senior vice president of business development for GSG Vendor Finance. John possesses a very strong vendor background particularly on what we call “converged technology” – a hybrid of IT, software, communications, multi-media and any number of technologies. Hiring John is a clear example of how we are bringing in experts in particular sectors. On the vendor side, we are looking for people with a clear understanding of how value chains work within an industry sector. And, they must also be proficient working with vendors to enable the sales process to include financing as part of the vendor’s go-to-market strategy, work with them to win and build new programs, and deliver a true turnkey solution to our vendor partners. At the same time we are currently building an end-user team and for this team we are looking for professionals that can bring strong end-user relationships. In the process of developing these new end-user relationships, we expect we will also see opportunities to build some additional vendor relationships. Therefore, we see some feeding and cross-over between the groups, but we will keep some hard and fast “walls” between the two groups.

Operationally, we have implemented process changes in how we service end-users and vendors. Again, the point is that this is not new to GSG as we have been doing this for a number of years. Rather, we are now focusing more on bringing more of the right type of business through the doors. The platform is already in place, but now is the time to fully capitalize on the business we can find in our targeted markets – from both the end-user and vendor side. 

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Comments From Our Members

Bob Rinaldi • View APN Profile
Excellent article and insights Andrew and Kiran. You have to give Andrew a lot of credit for sharing his outlook and equipment specific strategy as most independents are very reluctant to do this for fear of competition. At the end of the day though, and Andrew knows this, it is all about the in-depth knowledge that he has for his asset categories. You cannot easily replicate what he has learned over decades about the graphics industry along with his legal background. Andrew is a young entrepreneur with a very very bright future indeed with GSG. Thank you for sharing Andrew and smart decision bringing on talent like Kiran to help you fulfill your vision.
12.17.2013 @ 2:58 PM
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