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Crestmark Bank & TIP Capital: Where Equipment Finance and ABL Meet

Date: Nov 04, 2014 @ 07:00 AM
Related: Crestmark

“This acquisition,” adds Grady, “will allow us to be more competitive in certain markets. For example, it didn’t make much sense for us to pursue opportunities in the municipal dollar-out space previously. Now it does. From the small ticket standpoint, we will able to be more competitive and efficient due to our reduced cost of capital to participate in that vertical as well.”

At the same time, Grady and the TIP Capital crew face new realities that come in the form of regulatory requirements. Grady remains relatively unfazed in this regard. “Of course it’s early in the process, but Dave and Crestmark’s president, Mick Goik, did a very good job in explaining things. During my time at AT&T Capital, we had been a part of a regulatory environment and while it’s not apples and apples, we feel quite confident on this end. We are very disciplined in our processes and procedures. We don’t have any concerns.”

When Synergies and Philosophies Coalesce

Setting the synergies and other practical considerations aside, the combined forces of Crestmark and TIP Capital seem to work both at a fundamental level and in a broader sense as well. Tull’s management philosophy in its simplest form includes four key points: having the proper controls in place, being profitable, fulfilling on growth potential and an appropriate culture built on respect and helpfulness. “We want all four aspects to be in place – the control, profitability and growth – all surrounded by what we consider to be an appropriate culture. We define our culture as We Help. That means we help one another, our clients and any and all of our stakeholders.

“Whenever we consider an acquisition, we first meet with a company’s management team on a casual basis. We don’t discuss the numbers or what we’re out to accomplish. We find out about their company and their philosophies. We try to understand the company’s culture and from a cultural standpoint, we knew that Scott and his team thought and acted a lot like us. They were driven to support and protect their people. During the rough years of 2008 and 2009, they didn’t do any layoffs. They protected their people, they developed them and everyone understood they needed to work harder. That’s the same philosophy we employ at Crestmark as well. “

Grady concurs. He explains, “Dave is right. We share the same kind of culture in terms of how we approach the business. One of the things I’m most proud of is when the last recession hit; we were able to keep everyone on. This is Michigan and as a state, we were at the absolute economic bottom. All of our employees stayed on through the downturn and we didn’t have work ‘holidays,’ we didn’t close on Fridays or anything of that nature. At that time, if you had layoffs in Michigan there was nowhere else for your people to go. In terms of our new leasing division, there is no real overlap at Crestmark, so everyone who had a job at TIP before the acquisition, now has a job with Crestmark. That was very important to us during this acquisition process.”

With the acquisition now signed, sealed and delivered, both Tull and Grady say that when it comes to TIP Capital’s day-to-day operations, largely things will remain business as usual with no intricate assimilation campaign into the Crestmark way of doing things. Tull states, “Most of our acquisitions have been of entrepreneurial organizations and we work hard to maintain our own entrepreneurial spirit.

“For us, it’s simple. The businesses we have acquired had flourished because they were entrepreneurial in nature.  That’s why we liked them in the first place. Sure, we’ll create efficiencies and standardize any common practices wherever it makes sense to do so. But we work hard to not denigrate what made them good to begin with.”

This philosophy applies to the company name as well, which now is known as TIP Capital, a Crestmark Bank Company. “With time, the marketplace will associate the Crestmark name with equipment finance and we can change it then. But for now, we’re in no rush to change the signage simply because our ego requires it.”

The Path Forward, Together

In terms of his overall observations concerning the equipment finance industry, Grady senses cautious optimism continues to prevail. “I think most people out there are hoping the fourth quarter is steady. Without a doubt, there are still concerns with the overall economy, the government's fiscal policy and pressing macro-global issues. One of my peers said it best: ‘It should be a good fourth quarter as long as there isn’t another week or two of bad headlines.’”

Still, Grady joins his peers in this cautious optimism. He says, “It doesn’t seem like anyone is really hitting it out of the park, but most are at or near plan.” With regard to what the future holds being part of the Crestmark organization, Grady’s optimism is far less restrained.

He says, “This was a great deal for everyone involved and not the kind of deal that you see every day. We’re excited to be a part of it."

Tull echoes Grady’s optimism by adding, “I’m very excited about the future and confident that our expanded team will be extremely successful over the next several years. I’m looking forward to having some fun as we do it.”

Executive Editor | Equipment Finance Advisor
Stuart Papavassiliou is the Executive Editor of Equipment Finance Advisor and ABL Advisor.

Contact Stuart Papavassiliou at 484.380.2964 or

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