Daily News: April 28, 2015

Customers Launches Commercial Finance Business

Richard Ehst, president and COO of Customers Bank, announced the formation of a Commercial Finance Group based in New England. Its initial focus will be on the Bank’s 7-state markets in New England and Mid-Atlantic, with plans to expand the business to all 50 states throughout the United States.

The new business unit will initially offer equipment finance and leasing products and services for a broad range of asset classes. It will service vendors, dealers, independent finance companies, bank-owned leasing companies and strategic direct customers in the plastics, packaging, machine tool, construction, transportation and franchise markets.

Samuel H. Smith III joined Customers Bank as managing mirector and will be responsible for the overall leadership of this new team. He has more than 30 years of experience and has held senior positions with Wells Fargo Equipment Finance, EverBank Commercial Finance, Equilease Financial Services, ORIX Vendor Finance and Charter Financial. He also was co-founder of Wentworth Capital, a plastics and packaging specialty finance firm, later sold to Charter Financial. Smith will report directly to Lyle P. Cunningham, Managing Director of the Customers Bank Specialty Lending Group.

Joining Smith will be an experienced team composed of eight team members, many of whom have been working together for more than two decades. Together, they have financed $500 million in assets over the last four years, without any delinquencies or charge-offs.

Sheila S. Mahon will serve as operations team leader and Fred A. Clough will direct the risk and credit function for the team. Each of these professionals, along with five additional team members bring a wealth of knowledge and a proven track record of building a successful business in the specialty finance marketplace, said Smith.

The formation of this new group marks the bank’s entry into the equipment finance business, and builds a foundation for its loan, capital lease and off-balance sheet product programs under development.

“The expansion of our Commercial Finance Group through these commercial finance and leasing programs is an important part of our strategic growth plan,” said Steven Issa, chief lending officer of Customers Bank. “The team brings a wealth of experience in the equipment finance and leasing industry, and I have no doubt that they will bolster our commercial lending and cross-sell activity.”