Recently Brent St-Arnaud has been promoted to Regional Sales Manager, Vendor in the Ontario and the western regions. Brent has been with the company for over two years. In this employee spotlight, he shares his thoughts on the business and a little about himself.
Describe your career.
I began my finance career in July of 2002 as an Account Manager with GE Capital and climbed my way through various positions of increasing responsibility before vacating my post as Vice President, Corporate Finance back in 2013. Between 2013 and 2017, I developed and invested in residential and commercial real estate as well as helped seed fund one of Calgary's last junior Oil & Gas Exploration and Production companies - with light sweet crude production in Central Alberta. In August of 2017 I joined Hitachi Capital – and I am thrilled to once again be working with many of my former colleagues from GE.
Considering your experience in the financial world and as an entrepreneur what advice would you give entrepreneurs or the people working with entrepreneurs?
Two things to be mindful of when working with Entrepreneurs: Communication and Timing. By nature, entrepreneurs see opportunity where others see problems (they're solution creators) and nobody (other than perhaps ER professionals) understands the clock better than them! Give any idea or deal too much time - and watch your window of opportunity close. The best advice I could give anyone selling to professionals of said mindset is to be solutions oriented - meaning deliver the solution concisely upfront before elaborating on detail and do so, always, in the most time sensitive manner possible. Return all calls promptly, follow-up proactively (with everyone involved in a deal) and be very available. Demonstrate to your entrepreneur-client that you have their back - and you'll have a professional relationship for life but leave them guessing - and they'll be sure to pass you by on the next round.
Recently you have taken on the challenge of leading the DFS program, tell us about the program.
DFS is a private-label provider of finance services for commercial equipment vendors across Canada. Over the course of the past year, we have been piloting a new way of lending in the hopes of efficiencies gains. Through DFS' 11 F&I managers (many of whom handle financing for multiple small dealerships) we provided DFS with a credit-scoring system as well as the ability to generated their own documents (enabling them to credit adjudicate and document deals up to $250,000 on our behalf). The obvious advantage here being deal turn-time for DFS vendors with the intended advantage for ourselves to have a near touch-free avenue for deal origination. As for the challenge - well imagine yourself training and coaching 11 new offsite credit managers / documentation specialists! Needless to say, at the outset many of us were questioning whether or not we were in fact realizing any productivity gain but I can now happily report that after several months of intensive effort - I believe we are beginning to harvest such rewards.
Why do you think it’s important to challenge the status quo and what experience has influenced you to consider change as a positive thing?
The only constant in life is change itself. As a business, if you're not evolving then you must be shrinking and there's no better way to unintentionally shrink than to avoid change. Challenging the status quo is integral to long-term success, growth & profitability and while I sometimes catch myself lamenting or longing for the simpler days of pay phones and fax machines - the truth of the matter is that our choices are as follows: Create change for ourselves or have change imposed on us. Challenge the status quo in search of opportunities for improvement or allow our competitors to grab market share.
Describe one of your hobbies.
I have more hobbies than time and this will likely never change but if I had to select only one - it would be my love for Deep Water Scuba Diving. I've been an avid diver since 2004 - having taken my first plunge back in 2001 at the Aquarium in Melbourne, Australia ~ in a quest to overcome my fear of Sharks. Eighteen years on and I can proudly claim that I've dove as deep as 181 feet in the Blue Hole of Belize and interacted with dozens of sharks across a wide-range of species which include Nurse & Reef to Bull Sharks, Hammerheads & Six Gills (to name a few). A cage-free dive with Great Whites currently fills top spot on my bucket list and you'll never catch me more relaxed or at peace than when I'm in the presence of these majestic Chondrichthyes. Sadly, over the course my of lifetime (let’s call that 40ish years) shark populations have decreased by more than 90% and as a result - the health of our oceans is on the verge of collapse. Next time you find yourself in a restaurant with Shark on the menu - please support the health of our planet by eating somewhere else.