First Community Bank’s continued origination growth has spurred the company — and its powersports finance subsidiary Dealer Direct — to relocate to a larger office space within the next 18 months, Senior Vice President Steve Wilcoxon told Powersports Finance.
The Batesville, Ark.-based lender funded about 7,500 loans in 2016 for powersport vehicles, up from 4,759 in 2015 and 3,100 loans in 2014, Wilcoxon said.
“We have really enjoyed an abundance of quality growth during 2016,” he said. “My staff continues to grow, as well.” Dealer Direct hired four additional employees across various departments in 2016 to handle the demand, which brings the subsidiary’s staff up to a total of 11.
“We’ve gotten our rates a lot more competitive, compared with some of the bigger financing companies out there,” he said. “Also, within the past year, we’ve hired a new sales rep that’s on the road. He is not only knocking on dealers’ doors selling our products and services, but also working with the dealers to provide them the personal attention they want, to better understand our program.”
When Dealer Direct launched, its main focus was to sign up independent dealers regionally, Wilcoxon said. “Now, here we are 12 years later and we are reaching out to dealers nationwide, as well as a variety of manufacturers.” Most recently, the company signed a multi-year agreement with ARGO on Jan. 1, to provide retail financing to ARGO’s North American dealer network. Dealer Direct works with about eight manufacturers.
Dealer Direct originally only financed zero-turn mowers — which are riding lawn mowers with a turning radius that is effectively zero — but over the past five years, the company has moved more into the powersports space. “We signed up a lot of dealers that carried multiple lines, and they liked our program, financing rates, and terms, so they asked us to do more in the powersports business,” Wilcoxon explained. “So we started financing those lines as well. It’s just been word of mouth and a grassroots approach to growing our program.”
Dealer Direct funded $73 million in powersports loans in 2016, with a goal of reaching $150 million in volume for 2017. The company makes loans for more than 1,800 dealers in 48 states.