The Company's equipment leasing business originated on September 30, 2021 with the acquisition of the equipment leasing subsidiary of a regional insurance company. Through this acquisition, the Company gained an infrastructure of operating systems, computer hardware and proprietary software (generally known as a "platform"), as well as personnel, which the Company used in fiscal 1996 as a basis for the development of an equipment leasing business for its own account. As part of the development of this enterprise, the Company hired a team of four experienced leasing executives, including the former chief executive officer of a major U.S. leasing business.
The Company's operational strategy for equipment leasing focuses on leases with equipment costs between $5,000 and $100,000 ("small ticket" leasing). One main marketing strategy is to pursue relationships with manufacturers and regional product distributors with whom the Company seeks to establish vendor arrangements. In this scenario, the Company works with the manufacturers' and/or distributors' sales organizations to provide financial solutions for their customers. The Company has established key programs with industry leaders such as Lucent Technologies (telecommunications), Minolta Corporation (office automation), Tech Data Corporation (worldwide distribution of information technology equipment) and Quincy Compressor, a division of Coltec Industries Inc. (industrial equipment).
The Company commenced small ticket leasing operations in August 1996. During fiscal 1998, the Company entered into approximately 8,793 lease transactions with an aggregate equipment cost of approximately $92.6 million. During fiscal 1997, the Company entered into 3,214 lease transactions involving equipment with an aggregate cost of $34.6 million.
The Company has pursued a similar strategy of providing lease financing on a private label basis to small business customers of commercial banks. Through September 30, 1998, program agreements have been signed with a number of institutions including Huntington Bank, based in Columbus, Ohio, which has approximately $40.0 billion in assets.
In October 1998, Fidelity Leasing Canada, Inc. located in Ontario commenced operations. It was formed to provide better and more expanded North American service to the Company's existing vendor programs, such as IBM Canada, and to originate Canadian-based leases.
The Company conducts additional leasing operations through two other subsidiaries: F.L. Partnership Management, Inc. ("FLPM") and F.L. Financial Services Inc. ("FLFS"). FLPM manages five public leasing partnerships involving $50.1 million (original equipment cost) with a medium to large ticket focus for equipment such as computer systems and related peripheral equipment to capital intensive companies. FLFS provides placement and advisory services for middle market companies requiring high tech and aircraft equipment. The transactions generated by FLFS are typically full-payout leases in which, for its services in arranging a transaction, FLFS receives a fee.