A peek behind the broker curtain
Barry Longwater knows where to find money. To be more precise, Longwater knows where to help his clients find money and one of the first places he looks is with North Star Leasing.
Longwater owns Advis Capital, an equipment leasing brokerage company based in Savannah, GA. His job is to help businesses acquire the capital needed to fund equipment. Advis is actually similar to North Star Leasing in several ways: Companies requiring new equipment to grow or sustain their businesses come to Advis for funding. Advis differs from North Star Leasing in one very specific way, however: As a broker, Longwater is free to shop the proposed deal around to a number of lenders, looking for the best rates and the most favorable terms.
“North Star Leasing is my go-to company,” said Longwater. “The thing I like about North Star Leasing is that everybody else seems to have a cookie-cutter program where they run an application through the system and if one thing doesn’t connect, or one box isn’t checked, it bounces out and gets declined. North Star Leasing, on the other hand, has some flexibility. They have the ability to see the vision in a deal and find creative solutions. If North Star Leasing can’t do it, nobody else in this industry can.”
Those words of praise are music to the ears of Susan Stevens, Broker Relations Manager for North Star Leasing. For the past decade, Stevens has been quietly expanding North Star Leasing’s broker program.
“We have about 250 brokers in our system right now and a stable of regulars, like Barry, that’s growing in a nice, sustainable manner,” said Stevens. “We handle deals with brokers that are pretty wide in their scope – anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000 deals are considered.”
Stevens said North Star Leasing’s access to funds has increased since the Vermont-based company became a division of Peoples Bank of Ohio in April.
“With the ability to fund larger deals, we are in the midst of exploring ways to increase efficiencies and streamline some of our processes,” Stevens said.
Longwater began his relationship with North Star Leasing when he met with Dan Feeney (now the Executive Vice President of North Star Leasing) about 13 years ago.
“I had had a call with somebody from Dan’s office who was interested in doing business with me, but I like to meet the people I’m going to work with in person,” Longwater said. So on a ski trip to New Hampshire, Longwater detoured to Vermont and met with Feeney. The relationship has blossomed since then.
“Most of my deals are in the restaurant and hotel business,” Longwater said. “If I can’t get North Star Leasing to handle my deal, then I know nobody can.”
Taking a cue from the face-to-face genesis of the Advis/North Star Leasing relationship, Stevens is preparing to attend the 2021 American Association of Commercial Finance Brokers in Nashville next month. At this event, which brings together hundreds of brokers and funding sources, Susan hopes to find other brokers like Longwater who will make North Star Leasing the first company they call when it comes time to fund their deals.
“I hope other brokers will see in us what Barry does,” said Stevens. “One of the reasons brokers like Barry come to us is because we’re responsive and can turn around deals quickly.”
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