GE Capital

GE Capital: Builders, not Bankers

 GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF) provide nearly $32 billion in financing for more than 30,000 manufacturers, dealers and distributors in the U.S. and Canada last year across about 15 industries. This company services the marine industry extensively and creates customized financing programs to help its customers grow their businesses.

Inventory financing, also known as floorplan financing, is an important element of a successful manufacturer-dealer business model. CDF works with manufacturers and distributors to create inventory finance programs that enable their dealers to stock a broad selection of products. Manufacturers and distributors benefit from enhanced product flow and increased sales opportunities. Dealers obtain improved terms and credit availability.

CDF has been supporting the marine industry in this way for more than 40 years. In 2011, due to its extensive and long-standing relationships with key industry vendors, CDF provided financing to more than 3,000 marine dealers, enabling them to stock and market boats globally. The company’s relationships and support extend across the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Marine Retailers Association and the National Marine Bankers Association.

The future, it seems, is looking just as good.

The marine industry in North America is heading in the right direction, according to Bruce Van Wagoner, president of the Marine Group within GE Capital, CDF. “We’re expecting slow and steady growth in 2012, similar to last year,” says Van Wagoner. “Shipments are aligned with demand, and dealer inventories are low, healthy and turning. Although the marine industry’s outlook is tempered by the experiences of the past several years, it is healthy today and dealers have reason to be optimistic.”

From this company’s perspective, certain segments of the industry are stronger than others. Wholesale growth, for instance, could run 6 to 12 percent in 2012, and retail growth could range 4 to 8 to percent. Those figures, of course, depend on the market segment in question. “The outboard segment is expected to continue to see excellent growth, while some other segments are still lagging,” says Van Wagoner. “Nevertheless, from a macro level, the market is performing as expected, so far this year.”

CDF is part of GE Capital’s commercial lending and leasing business. Yet this company offers its customers more than money. “At GE Capital, we're not just bankers, we're builders,” says Van Wagoner. “On top of smart financing, we provide the know-how of GE to help businesses go further and do more. We’re excited that marine companies are building something great. It takes money, along with knowledge and expertise. That’s where we come in.”

CDF provides a number of valuable services for the marine industry. Offerings include its core new product inventory financing and financing for pre-owned inventory, as well as credit and collection services and asset-based lending. CDF also provides best-in-class business intelligence tools for manufacturers and dealers. These tools include inventory management reporting, data and benchmarking. In addition, the Access GE program gives marine industry participants the opportunity to maximize the power of specialized resources, insights and expertise, all of which help business leaders meet their most pressing challenges.

“We are organized around our customers and our industry-specific knowledge means we’re thought of as an extension of them,” says Van Wagoner. That customer relationship offers the marine arm of GE Capital CDF a unique perspective on the industry it serves.

“In speaking with our dealer base, we found the dealers that accurately predicted their market last year and brought in more product than average significantly outperformed the market in total and their peer groups as well,” says Van Wagoner. “It’s been interesting to see how this sub-set of dealers — we called them contrarians — performed. Most targeted their strategies toward specific segments or brands. Most saw it as an opportunity to beat competition that was more conservative. The majority of them saw significant ROI. As a result, those that saw the upside are repeating this strategy in 2012, with some expansion or modification in terms of brands and/or segments.”

According to Van Wagoner, GE Capital’s goal is to help its customer’s reach their financial goals and ensure success. “We blend an experienced team of professionals with the financial stability of our parent company to meet the growing needs of the marine industry.”

GE Capital offers consumers and businesses around the globe an array of financial products and services. For more information, visit or follow company news via Twitter (@GEinventoryfin).