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Assembling a Strong Team Sparks Incredible Growth for Financial Partners Group

Date: Feb 24, 2022 @ 05:00 AM

Financial Partners Group (FPG) in January announced that fiscal 2021 was a record year for the company with 130 percent year-over-year growth and origination volume of $370 million. The company is aiming to reach $500 million in 2022.

The key catalyst in the company’s dramatic growth was sparked by a transformation announced in August 2020. Financial Partners Corp. underwent an expansion and rebranding as Financial Partners Group (FPG).

“That team hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped since,” said FPG CEO Jeff LaLima.

“This success belongs to the team. It’s a testament of the people we have and culture we’ve built,” said FPG Executive Vice President Rob Noble. “Aside from the revenue increase, it was a huge growth year for us, adding close to 30 people to the team in key areas of the business.”

“We stuck to our strategic plan of strengthening our core markets, expanding new markets and solidifying key functions of the business,” said Josh Mabee, Chief Operating Officer. “What was accomplished this year was fantastic and we’re well-positioned heading into 2022.”

To learn more about the rapid growth at FPG, Equipment Finance Advisor met with LaLima to learn about the company and its growth.

Equipment Finance Advisor:Jeff, you had an incredible year at FPG. What were some of the keys?

Equipment Finance article with Jeff LaLima - CEO - Financial Partners Group

Jeff LaLima: It was a record-breaking year. We’re very excited about what we achieved. We forecasted at the start of 2021 that we would do roughly $300 million, and we blew by that in November or early December. We were ecstatic when we found out that we did $370 million at the end of the year.

Equipment Finance Advisor: What drove that growth?

LaLima: First, back in 2020, we brought on Josh Mabee, our Chief Operating Officer. We brought him and his team. This included salespeople and operations people. Once he came on, we doubled in size. He had some accounts that he brought over; and some shared accounts with which we were already working. It solidified a lot of our vendor partnerships that we had and drove a lot of growth. Also, we added a non-medical side to our business. We’re mostly medical. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. Rob Noble has been with me for about that same period. We started to diversify, seeing that there are other avenues to make this grow other than our medical division.

Equipment Finance Advisor: You brought them over as a team?

LaLima: Yes. Once they came over, they hit the ground running and the transition was seamless. We have a great team. Josh and Rob bring so much experience to the sales side, and are solidifying and forming better relationships and partnerships with our vendors and our lenders. We’ve also added Kyle Mallinger, our Senior Vice President of Marketing. He’s been a tremendous asset. And we’re now starting to dive into working capital loans and retention deals from prior customers. It is something we never focused on and now we have the ability to do that.

Equipment Finance Advisor: Once you started to see the rapid growth, did you have to invest a lot in the back office and infrastructure?

LaLima: Absolutely. We’re running a CRM that we’ve already outgrown in the first year. Kyle’s leading the implementation of our new CRM system that we’ll launch in the second quarter. We invested in another four or five people on the operations side. Our operations team is top notch. The people in operations/funding are, I think, the best in the industry.

Equipment Finance Advisor: Is medical still the company’s largest area?

LaLima: Yes. Of what we did last year, 80 percent was in medical. We’re planning to lower that number this year as we do more in other markets. The growth of the non-medical in yellow iron, construction, trucking and working capital is really starting to take shape. Historically, we haven’t done much in these areas and it’s growing drastically. We’re adding more salespeople and more operations people. I think our goal for this year is to add another 10 to 15 sales representatives and five operations people to support that growth.

Equipment Finance Advisor: How did you get started in the industry?

LaLima: I’ve been in this industry since 1996. I got a job at a bank in Boston, US Trust where I was in operations. For the first two years, I learned the industry, learned how it functions, and operates. I moved into sales a couple of years later and worked for a guy that had a broker desk and learned that side of the industry. Ultimately, I wanted to start my own company and that’s what lead to forming Financial Partners in 2003.

Equipment Finance Advisor: What type of impacts have you seen from the pandemic – positive, negative or a combination?

LaLima: It’s been a little bit of both. Everyone was feeling the effects back in March of 2020. We were all in the same position, as a country and as a world, at a standstill. Nothing really happened for a couple of months. Once they started lifting the restrictions, we saw a huge uptick, especially in our medical. A lot of doctors bought a lot of different devices once the pandemic started to ease. The summer of 2020 is when we saw a huge uptick in our business. And last year, non-medical was growing just as much. I think a lot of people were on the sidelines and had a lot of cash to spend. They bought a lot of equipment over the last year to help grow their businesses coming out of the pandemic.

Equipment Finance Advisor: What are your expectations for 2022?

LaLima: We want to keep growing our business, and keep getting into different avenues of revenue, as-well-as streamlining our business to grow. As I mentioned before, we’re expanding our medical; we’re hiring more medical salespeople, non-medical salespeople, and operations as well. Having Kyle on for a full year to establish and expand a marketing department is going to help us dramatically. We are starting to tap into our data that we’ve left vacant for the last 20 years. Supporting existing customers in a broader way to help them grow their businesses. That’s our goal this year.

Mike Dickinson
Editor | Equipment Finance Advisor
Mike Dickinson is Editor of Equipment Finance Advisor. Dickinson has more than 30 years of experience as an Editor and Reporter. He spent 20-plus years at the Rochester Business Journal in Rochester, NY, including 18 years as Managing Editor. He also covered Eastman Kodak, technology, optics and telecommunications, among other areas. His writing and reporting on Eastman Kodak won 1st Place – 2012 National Newspaper Association Best Business Story and the Gold Award – 2012 Alliance of Area Business Publishers for Breaking-news coverage. He also won the Silver Award – 2001 Alliance of Area Business Publishers Best Coverage of Local Breaking News – Global Crossing. Prior to working in the business news arena, Dickinson was a reporter for the daily newspapers in Syracuse, NY, and Batavia, NY. Dickinson holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications/Journalism from St. Bonaventure University.
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