Willy Herrara

An interview with Master Blender Willy Herrera


Meet world-famous master blender of fine cigars, Willy Herrera. The interview took place at my favorite cigar lounge in the US, Stogies World Famous Cigars in Houston, Texas run by proprietor Jorge Ahued. Willy and his team were at Stogies for a special evening event featuring Willy’s own new blend, Herrera Esteli from Nicaragua. Jorge, and I catch some private time with Willy on this busy evening to hear about Willy’s start and his eventual attachment to Drew Estates, one of the world’s largest fine cigar producers.

Willy Herrera Part 1: From Banking to Cigars

In this video, Willy explains how he ended up in the cigar industry from an improbable start in banking.

https://youtu.be/lAU0TmxhNSA

Willy Herrera Part 2: How Willy made it to the pinnacle of the premium cigar industry

From a start in a small family owned cigar factory to the top of the industry.

https://youtu.be/DXpCCNP_Wns

Willy Herrera Part 3: The role of a Master Blender

Willy explains what it takes to be a master blender

https://youtu.be/PhREBVEJRRo

Willy Herrera Part 4: Where to find Willy Herrera

How to learn more about Willy

https://youtu.be/7pGdpYZvkyw


Paul Gass Interview - Founder of Eaton Financial est. 1974

Paul Gass - An Interview with a true pioneer of the equipment leasing and finance industry.


Paul, the original founder of Eaton Financial, is one of the most interesting people in our industry. Eaton was one of the very first to pioneer the small ticket leasing business along with creating the unique tools required some 40 years ago.  Paul was and is a tireless advocate for the disadvantaged and for championing many causes, from diversity in the workplace, founding of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Foundation and extensive philanthropy. In this series of short videos, we take a look at just a few of the highlights of Paul Gass’s remarkable career.  Trust me, there could easily be a dozen more segments of the very interesting and engaging life of Paul Gass.  There is much anyone can learn from Paul.

Paul Gass – Introduction

This video will give you a sense for Paul and set the stage for the following segments.

https://youtu.be/Zo39DIdBriQ

Paul discusses how he started Eaton with an idea to fill a void in the equipment leasing industry

Paul Gass – Starting Eaton Financial

How does one start something from nothing when there wasn’t a roadmap! Paul discusses how he started Eaton with an idea to fill a void in the equipment leasing industry

https://youtu.be/fg_xszG7FZE

Without a road map, challenges were expected but what were some of them

Paul Gass – Challenges

Learn about Paul’s philosophy on dealing with challenges

https://youtu.be/uhW2YOxHBnk

Ever wonder how application only credit decisioning started?

Paul Gass – Innovation

Wonder no longer!

https://youtu.be/qaHLHua7PDQ

In an era and an industry which was unquestionably male-dominated Paul blazed new territory well ahead of his time.

Paul Gass – Diversity Pioneer

Learn why many of Paul’s key employees were women.

https://youtu.be/gibJvleqHK4

Paul had an idea about leasing education and fostering research in the industry then put his money to work in making it a reality

Paul Gass – Founding the EL&F Foundation

Learn how the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation got its start.

https://youtu.be/B8SVUJ_F8B8

Paul sees another need to help those with disabilities gain entry into the workplace.

Paul Gass – Help For Those With Disabilities

Hear about how Paul engaged with the Advocates, a non-profit that champions people who face developmental, mental health, or other life challenges.

https://youtu.be/YmYLpHAjH_4

We sum it all up in this segment, but we could have gone on for hours.

Paul Gass – Final Thoughts

Get some parting words of wisdom.  Do you have some questions for Paul, please comment or contact us and we will try to get Paul to answer them.

https://youtu.be/EjfsAw0mc_c

Paul Gass

Paul's Full Bio


I Will Go First!


So, here is one of my favorite cigars and beverage when given an hour or so to relax either in solitude with some great music or better with friends.

Cigar:

My Father Le Bijou 1922 –(see picture) Cigar Aficionado’s cigar of the year in 2015. The price is between $10-$15 per cigar depending on the size selected. The tasting notes that I can depend on are chocolate covered raisins, cocoa, nutmeg and a richness that is totally relaxing while being intriguing with each puff. Now, keep in mind that is a very individual thing since taste varies for everyone.  While the Le Bijou looks very dark, because of its oscuro tobacco wrapper, it is not strong but rather very flavorful which is often confusing to novices. Strong and dark are not the same. You can have a very light-colored cigar that is very strong (e.g. Cohiba).

Where to get them:  Stogies World Class Cigar Lounge in Houston. www.stogiesworldclasscigars.com or call 713-783-5100 and ask Andrew or email him at Andrew@stogiesworldclasscigars.com

Beverage:

Diplomatico Reserva Exculsiva (see picture). Price is very affordable at $35-$40 per bottle. The tasting notes that I really look forward to are: molasses, caramel vanilla that compliments the LeBijou’s tasting notes incredibly well. This pairing frankly is a real treat for the senses and easily my favorite. This bottle can be had at most fine liquor stores in your area. It should not be hard to find.

Story:

I have been smoking cigars for about 4-5 years but only became a serious aficionado for the last 3 years. I view myself as a life-long learner and always try to find out all I can about a topic I find interesting. Anyway, about 3 years ago, I joined Bells House of Tobacco, one of the quaintest “down home” cigar clubs in Cincinnati, owned by a really interesting and engaging fellow, John Bell. I used to drop in and buy a short cigar (known as robusto) and only hang out for a short while to smoke said shorty. One day, I went back to the smoking lounge early one afternoon and I had it all to myself. Mr. Bell came back about 10 minutes into this cigar (by the way, yes it was a My Father Le Bijou 2922 robusto.). As I recall, the conversation went something like this:

Mr. Bell –  “Bob, we need to talk. You like being a member here, right?”

Me – “Of course, Why”

Mr. Bell –  “Well, I have to tell you that something has to change, or you are not going to be a member much longer.”

Me – “What?”

Mr. Bell –  When you come to Bell’s you always get a short cigar, then pace, fidget, work on email and otherwise make everyone nervous with your nervousness. Bob, that has to stop. Do you ever relax?”

Me –  “Sure, I do. That is what I am doing right now.”

Mr. Bell –  “That is not relaxing Bob”. Now here is the deal. I am going to go out to the humidor and select a proper cigar for you and put on some appropriately paired music (by the way the music was classic jazz). You are going to sit here, smoke it while enjoying the music and you better not bury yourself in your phone and work.

A few minutes later Mr. Bell returned with a very long and thick cigar.  By the looks of it, there goes 2 hours of my busy time.  But I really did not want to get kicked out of my new club and friends.

Mr. Bell –  “OK! Here we go. This is a dynamite cigar that from what I know should fit your taste profile. It will take you a good hour and a half to finish it. Put your phone away.”

Me – “Alright, alright, alright!”

So I proceeded to properly cut and light the stick. I then sat back and just slowly smoked, listened to some great jazz and well started to just think. About 30 minutes later a few other members showed up and we just started to talk. Wow, I think I get it. Smoking a cigar is about really relaxing and community. Besides what else am I going to do for an hour or two while it takes to finish a cigar like this. Mr. Bell returned to the lounge.

Mr. Bell –  “Well Bob, what do you think?”

Me – “John, I think I get it. The cigar actually tasted better when not buried in email or pacing and I am not sure I have ever really relaxed in this manner.”

Mr. Bell put on his trademark broad wide infectious smile as remarked with one of his trademark expressions.

Mr. Bell –  “That’s right!   He seemed quite pleased with himself as he strutted out of the lounge like a proud peacock, obviously pleased with himself.

As I look back on that episode, I can honestly say this. He saved my life from a mental standpoint. I learned to enjoy just, well, just being in the moment and enjoying the finer points of fine hand-crafted cigars and beverage pairings with them. I also enjoyed the discourse and community that takes place in a cigar lounge. There is something about cigar lounges and the folks that frequent them. The cigar culture is one of camaraderie, sharing experiences, cigar selections, music, beverages and of course story after story.


My Conversation with Susan Carol for the Equipment Finance Advisor

I always enjoy my too infrequent visits and conversations with Susan Carol! She always asks great, thought provoking questions and makes me think. I firmly believe that the status quo in the commercial lending space is about to be disrupted in many more and unexpected ways. Fintechs started that movement years ago by exploiting vacuums in very specific niches left by the traditional lending platforms (banks). Susan and I only touch on the very surface of what could have been a 2-3 hour conversation and brainstorming session.

Link to the article on the EFA site>


Bob Rinaldi Posts New Interview with Industry Pioneer Edward Cherney

In time for the industry’s 50th convention, Bob Rinaldi has posted a video conversation with Edward Cherney as part of its Pioneers in Equipment Leasing and Finance series. The series features conversations with entrepreneurs who share first-hand accounts of events as they happened, and perspectives on the future of the industry.

Edward Cherney has made a lifelong career as an entrepreneurial executive. He is currently chairman of TIP Capital. He has led industry renowned equipment leasing companies such as CMI Corporation, ENCORE, and AT&T Systems Leasing. Cherney’s 40-year career has mainly involved directing end-user sales staffs and operations that originated sophisticated, financial-oriented lease transactions. He is credited for financing billions in hardware and raising equity in excess of $500 million dollars. Cherney is recognized for his expertise in strategic business planning, profit improvement in turn-around situations and a talent for reading market conditions and taking the appropriate risks to grow the business.

His video is posted at bobrinaldi.com/edward-cherney

Founder Bob Rinaldi invites viewers to comment, ask questions, review the latest industry news, and connect with colleagues worldwide at bobrinaldi.com/blog.


Edward Cherney

Edward Cherney has made a lifelong career as an entrepreneurial executive. He is currently Chairman of TIP Capital. He has led industry renowned equipment leasing companies such as CMI Corporation, ENCORE, and AT&T Systems Leasing. Edward’s 40-year career has mainly involved directing end-user sales staffs and operations that originated sophisticated, financial-oriented lease transactions. Edward is credited for financing billions in hardware and raising equity in excess of $500 million dollars. He is recognized for his expertise in strategic business planning, profit improvement in turn-around situations and a talent for reading market conditions and taking the appropriate risks to grow the business.

Edward Cherney has made a lifelong career as an entrepreneurial executive. He is currently Chairman of TIP Capital. He has led industry renowned equipment leasing companies such as CMI Corporation, ENCORE, and AT&T Systems Leasing. Edward’s 40-year career has mainly involved directing end-user sales staffs and operations that originated sophisticated, financial-oriented lease transactions. Edward is credited for financing billions in hardware and raising equity in excess of $500 million dollars. He is recognized for his expertise in strategic business planning, profit improvement in turn-around situations and a talent for reading market conditions and taking the appropriate risks to grow the business.

Throughout his professional career, Ed has contributed generously of his leadership, time and resources to numerous community and charitable organizations. He has helped raise millions of dollars for the retirement fund of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Sisters of Monroe, Michigan.

He has been an active supporter of the Detroit Country Day School, by serving as a board member for over 25 years and assisting the school in a wide range of activities. Former organizations include: University of Detroit-Mercy – Trustee Emeritus, Y.M.C.A. – Director, Metro-Board, and Harvard University, New Parent Fund.

After graduating with a degree in Finance from the University of Detroit, Edward then attended the Detroit College of Law. He remained at the leading edge of the leasing profession by actively contributing to the leasing professional associations. Edward is Past Chairman of the Computer Dealers and Lessors Association (C.D.L.A.) and Past Board Member of the Equipment Leasing Association (E.L.A.).

Edward is married to Joanne and the father of five children. His daughter is a graduate of the University of Michigan, two of his sons are graduates of Harvard University and another is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of San Diego Law School. His youngest son will be attending college in 2012. Joanne is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University.


John Deane, Global Consultant, Points to Opportunities Ahead

For Immediate Release

John Deane, Global Consultant, Points to Opportunities Ahead
In Leasing Avenues Skype Interview

Oct. 17, 2011—“Grim confidence.” That’s how executives at a recent equipment leasing roundtable characterized attitudes in the industry today. It’s a far cry from how things were in the early 1970s when John C. Deane entered the business.

Deane, who began his career in banking and today is CEO of the global consulting firm, The Alta Group, helped pioneer the equipment leasing and finance business.

“Economic factors today are more significant to our industry than ever,” Deane said in an interview recently for Leasing Avenues. Today the action “is not in product development, but in management and execution,” he said.

When Deane entered equipment leasing, the business was new and entrepreneurial, and the U.S. was in recession. Fifty years later, the industry is mature and the nation is emerging from an even deeper recession. But Deane sees numerous opportunities in new vertical niches, in international expansion (both inbound and outbound), and in trimming costs and improving management.

Although the last decade wrought more negative than positive occurrences for the industry, solid growth occurred mid-way through, Deane said, allowing many companies to survive and prosper. The industry “hasn’t done anything wrong,” he said; “[but] there may have been some ‘overly creative’ structuring in the late 1990s.”

Deane practiced equipment leasing and finance from 1971 to 1992 and then started The Alta Group. Soon afterward, the consultancy produced Perfect Storms, a research paper written for the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation that is still downloaded today. “It was a deep dive into what went wrong in some well-known equipment leasing companies,” Deane said.

In the video interview with Susan Carol, Deane talks about his entry into equipment leasing and the satisfaction the business has provided over the years. He also discusses high points of his career, one being his role as chairman of the ELFA.

Leasingavenues.com was created by equipment leasing industry veteran, Bob Rinaldi, in 2010 to feature pioneers in equipment leasing through recorded Skype interviews conducted via the Internet. The site also highlights current industry insights at bobrinaldi.com/blog.

###

Media Contact:

Susan Carol
sca@scapr.com
540-361-1274


John C. Deane

John Deane is a founder of The Alta Group and its chief executive officer.

He leads the global consultancy composed of five major practice areas: consulting, merger & acquisitions, legal support services, professional development, and vendor and captive programs.

Prior to co-founding The Alta Group, he served as a principal in the firm of Amembal, Deane & Associates, the world’s leading provider of training, educational and consulting services for the equipment leasing industry. He has been CEO of both Great Western Leasing and BancOne Leasing and has served as the CFO and president of several major financial corporations.

His broad expertise over more than 35 years was fortified by his work as chairman of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) and as a member of the World Leasing Council. Click here for his full bio.

”Grim confidence.” That’s how executives at a recent equipment leasing roundtable characterized attitudes in the industry today. It’s a far cry from how things were in the early 1970s when John C. Deane entered the business.

Deane, who began his career in banking and today is CEO of the global consulting firm, The Alta Group, helped pioneer the equipment leasing and finance business.

“Economic factors today are more significant to our industry than ever,” Deane said in an interview recently for Leasing Avenues. Today the action “is not in product development, but in management and execution,” he said.

When Deane entered equipment leasing, the business was new and entrepreneurial, and the U.S. was in recession. Fifty years later, the industry is mature and the nation is emerging from an even deeper recession. But Deane sees numerous opportunities in new vertical niches, in international expansion (both inbound and outbound), and in trimming costs and improving management.

Although the last decade wrought more negative than positive occurrences for the industry, solid growth occurred mid-way through, Deane said, allowing many companies to survive and prosper. The industry “hasn’t done anything wrong,” he said; “[but] there may have been some ‘overly creative’ structuring in the late 1990s.”

Deane practiced equipment leasing and finance from 1971 to 1992 and then started The Alta Group. Soon afterward, the consultancy produced Perfect Storms, a research paper written for the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation that is still downloaded today. “It was a deep dive into what went wrong in some well-known equipment leasing companies,” Deane said.

In the video linked to this article, Deane talks about his entry into equipment leasing and the satisfaction the business has provided over the years. He also discusses high points of his career, one being his role as chairman of the ELFA.

John Deane’s Biography >>


Sudhir R. Amembal

Mr. Amembal, chairman and CEO of Amembal & Associates as well the CEO and editor of Global Leasing Resource (GLR), is interviewed about his experience as an educator and entrepreneur featuring his global perspective. This pioneer, like others interviewed here, remains extremely active in the industry and has recently launched both the GLR and the World Leasing News.

Sudhir P. Amembal is Chairman and CEO of Amembal & Associates as well the CEO and Editor of Global Leasing Resource. He began his professional career in lease education, consulting and publications by co-founding Amembal & Isom in 1978, the first entity in the world to serve the global leasing industry.

Entities under his stewardship became the world’s most highly respected training and consulting firms in the field of equipment leasing. These entities have trained over 70,000 leasing professionals throughout the world. Mr. Amembal has conducted technical presentations on leasing in over 75 countries.

As a government advisor, Mr. Amembal has spearheaded lease consultancy engagements conducted on behalf of over 20 governments including China, Indonesia, Korea and Nigeria. These engagements required him to review the overall leasing industry in each country and devise strategic recommendations to facilitate the growth of the industry. His most recent assignment was to assist in the introduction of operating leases into Bangladesh.

He has co-authored 16 books on leasing and has appeared as a keynote speaker at numerous domestic and international conferences. He has addressed conventions held by all four of the global regional associations – African Leasing Association, Asialease, Leaseurope, and the Latin American Leasing Association. He has chaired each of the annual World Leasing Conventions from 1993 to date. He will chair the forthcoming World Leasing Convention to be held in Cairo, June 7 & 8, 2011.

Mr. Amembal is the publisher of an online global magazine, WorldLeasingnNews.com and he serves as an advisor to Sigma Consultancy, a global provider of lease management software. He recently launched World Leasing News – Global Resource Guide & Directory, a unique product/service that seeks to revolutionize the dissemination of critical information to the leasing industry.

For a period of five years from 1997 to 2002, Mr. Amembal was Chairman of Amembal Capital Corporation, a middle market leasing company. Prior to 1978, he was a member of the faculty at the College of Business, University of Utah, prior to which he worked with Ernst & Young in New York City.

He has a B.Com from the University of Bombay, an MBA from the University of Utah and is a CPA qualified to practice in New York.


James Renner

Jim Renner, a consultant with The Alta Group, has extensive expertise helping financial institutions succeed in equipment leasing and finance markets. Prior to joining the global consultancy in January, 2011, he was president of Wells Fargo Equipment Finance and its forerunner, Norwest Equipment Finance for 15 years, before retiring. Jim led the growth of its leasing portfolio from $530 million to $7.5 billion, establishing Wells Fargo as one of the largest bank leasing companies in North America. Jim was president of First Bank System Leasing prior to joining Norwest.

His career began in the credit training program of Irving Trust Company in New York City right out of college. He later returned to Minnesota and joined First Bank of Minneapolis, where he was a commercial lender in the real estate department before starting its leasing operation.

Still based in Minneapolis, Jim is well known for his leadership in the equipment leasing and finance industry. He has been active in the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) for more than 25 years, serving on committees and as a director, vice chairman, and chairman in previous years. He also has been a trustee, chairman, and national development chairman of the ELFA Foundation, which honored him with a special recognition award in 2005.

Jim graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor of arts degree in economics.