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ELFA Inducts Gass and Wolfert Into Equipment Finance Hall of Fame

October 29, 2019, 07:25 AM

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) has named Paul S. Gass and Frederick E. Wolfert to the 2019 Class of the Equipment Finance Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony took place Oct. 26 at the Chairman’s Dinner preceding the 58th ELFA Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.

“We are thrilled to induct two remarkable individuals into the 2019 Class of the Equipment Finance Hall of Fame,” said ELFA President and CEO Ralph Petta. “Both Paul and Rick contributed so much to our industry, our association and our Foundation. Their accomplishments leave a lasting legacy that will inspire generations to come.” 

Paul S. Gass
Paul S. Gass was recognized as instrumental in the founding of the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2019.

Gass entered the equipment finance industry in 1966, working for national and international leasing corporations. In 1974, he founded Eaton Financial Corporation, an early pioneer in the small-ticket leasing business. In 1989, Eaton became AT&T’s first publicly held acquisition and Gass became President of the newly formed Leasing Services Division of AT&T Capital Corporation. The company developed over 300,000 small-business customers and $3 billion in assets.

Gass’ leasing industry achievements inspired him to give back. He identified a need to generate awareness of and resources for the equipment finance industry and supported the creation of a non-profit corporation dedicated exclusively to the educational, charitable and scientific advancement of the industry. In 1989, following the sale of Eaton, Gass contributed $250,000 of his own earnings and $125,000 in stock to realize his vision of the Foundation for Leasing Education with ELFA and Babson College, his alma mater. ELFA matched his gift and the Foundation was established at the association’s headquarters. Gass served as Fund Campaign Advisor and Board Director and continued to financially support the Foundation for many years.

Today, the Foundation that Gass envisioned continues to educate, fundraise and award grants for industry research. While the name of the organization evolved into the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, its core mission—to help industry professionals navigate the ever-changing opportunities and challenges of equipment finance—remains unchanged. The invaluable resources and programs developed as a direct result of Gass’ vision continue to propel the $1 trillion equipment finance sector forward.

Frederick E. Wolfert
Fredrick E. Wolfert was recognized as a leader of successful equipment finance businesses and a mentor who was dedicated to giving back.

Wolfert had a long and distinguished career in the commercial finance industry. He quickly progressed up the leadership chain across a diverse set of industry organizations including U.S. Leasing, Key Corp, Heller Financial, GE Capital and CIT Group. Throughout his 35-year career—over half of which included executive leadership roles—Wolfert achieved success by emphasizing teamwork, accountability and transparency. Drawing on keen business acumen, he identified and operationalized new market opportunities and continually helped shape the industry.

One of Wolfert’s most ambitious career moves came in 2008 when he launched a major new commercial finance company in the midst of the largest market downturn in more than a decade. The company, Tygris, was focused on small-ticket leasing, mid-ticket equipment finance and middle-market corporate finance. Wolfert partnered with a private equity firm to raise $2.1 billion in capital, the largest initial capital raise in commercial finance history. Tygris was acquired by EverBank in 2009.

Wolfert’s authentic and dynamic leadership style helped him to build word-class teams and form meaningful, life-long relationships. Throughout his career, Wolfert was involved with ELFA and found opportunities to give back by serving in several key leadership roles. He led the Membership Committee, served on the Foundation Board of Trustees and was Chairman of ELFA in 2001. He is remembered as a mentor and friend to many industry professionals, a number of whom became Directors and Officers of ELFA. 

Wolfert passed away in April 2019. His wife Holly, daughter Maggie Brady and son Paul Wolfert accepted the Hall of Fame Award on his behalf.

The ELFA Board of Directors established the Equipment Finance Hall of Fame in 2014 to annually recognize individuals who have made unique, significant or lasting contributions to the equipment finance industry throughout their careers. More information about the program is available here.

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