Celebrating 25 years in the equipment leasing business, Priority Leasing began as a family enterprise and remains one today. Founded in 1993 by Debbie Sands, Priority entered an emerging field: acting as a broker to facilitate equipment financing for businesses.
“The concept was quite new,” explains Sands, who had previously worked for a large single-source underwriter. “We act like the hub of a wheel. The spokes are: the clients who need the equipment, the vendor who sells the equipment and the underwriter with the money. We marry all the parties together.”
Three years after opening, Sands’ husband, Bob Wall, joined Priority. Also from the equipment leasing world, Wall’s credit, administration and financial strengths combined well with Sands’ sales, marketing and relationship proficiencies. “We started out of our house,” Sands recalls. “We had a couple of underwriters and our first salesman worked off the dryer! After our daughter turned two we found office space. We’ve worked together ever since.”
Twenty-five years later, Priority has helped over 7,000 clients lease the business equipment they need. Today, it supports a dozen underwriters. “More people understand that getting the equipment you need today, rather than saving until you can pay cash, will increase profitability right now,” Sands explains.
An endless variety of equipment is leasable: technology, automotive, medical, construction, office furniture, software and commercial kitchen equipment are just some examples. “We’re very creative,” Sands confirms. “I’ve leased several ambulances, including the equipment and drugs on the ambulance. It just has to make business sense.”
Lease terms depend on the client’s credit and lifespan of the equipment. “We try to accommodate the client as best as possible,” Sands says. “We make a lease payment fit within their budget and make sure they understand the tax advantages. We work with their goals.”
Applications can be found on Priority’s website and are assessed upon submission. “Through our underwriters, we have online credit processes,” she explains. “We can have an approval for a good client in 30 seconds. It might take longer if there’s no commercial credit information available, in which case, we’ll call the client for more details.”
As a broker, Priority offers the advantage of more choice. “If at first we get a decline, we can move on and determine where we’ll get approved,” she says. “We can also divide larger purchases among different underwriters. Clients are generally very grateful.”
With three full-time and four part-time employees today, Priority also gives back to the community. It supports Hands at Work in Africa, a program for orphan children, as well as the Calgary Food Bank and Canadian Blood Services.
Its purchase of Dental Leasing Options Inc. in June was an important addition, and Sands plans to grow that business by working with dental equipment vendors and dental clients. “The underwriters appreciate that business,” she offers. “Credit is usually very strong.”
She’ll also continue to grow Priority organically, through client referrals and the website, which contains a blog and the digitally-downloadable Equipment Leasing Guide Book, written by Sands.
With much to be proud of, Sands is grateful: “I have two daughters in university now, but the business was my first child. Today, everyone is doing well, has grown, and is excelling. Working with my husband has helped us both grow, and it’s been a huge blessing to have the business do so well.”