Five years ago, CLE Capital – formerly known as CLE Leasing – was a Canadian company embarking on a major shift: consolidating its presence in Canadian markets outside Quebec. Today, CLE Capital is a subsidiary of Hitachi Capital America and together, with parent company Hitachi Capital Canada, the two companies offer a comprehensive set of commercial equipment financing solutions across Canada.
Hitachi Capital enters the Canadian market
2017 marked the fifth anniversary of the collaboration between CLE Capital (CLE) and Hitachi Capital America. In October 2012, Hitachi Capital Canada was founded. It was headquartered in Burlington, Ontario, and became a subsidiary of Hitachi Capital America. At that time, Hitachi Capital America made the decision to position its brand in the Canadian market by entering into a service agreement with a well-established Canadian financing firm with high growth potential. For the next two years, CLE introduced the Hitachi Capital Canada brand in Canada through its team of managers, account managers and the entire administrative staff that manages contracts, disbursements to equipment dealers, and customer service.
A major transaction in the world of commercial financing in Canada
In 2014, CLE was a private company based in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. Since that time, it has matured and is benefiting from the advantages of being part of a large international group that can support its full growth potential. For mature companies, managing growth is always a challenge and, in the case of CLE, this challenge was supplemented by the need of finding the next generation for leading the company. On March 31, 2014, Hitachi Capital Canada officially announced the signing of an agreement to purchase all CLE Leasing shares. Bill Besgen, then CEO of Hitachi Capital Canada, said:
“CLE is an excellent company with an extensive sales network across Canada. They have been an excellent partner for Hitachi and this acquisition provides us with the ability to further increase our service and support to our manufacturing relationships with operations in Canada.”
For the management of CLE and its shareholders, joining the Hitachi family meant integrating an internationally-known and respected company with an enviable global reputation. The Hitachi Capital Cananda / CLE duo is now positioned as an important player in the Canadian commercial finance industry.
In 2014, the transaction was officially completed. After a two-year proof of concept partnership, the two companies united definitively. For CLE employees, they are now enjoying the ability to offer an expanded range of commercial financing solutions across Canada and enhanced career opportunities.
CLE and Hitachi Capital Canada: A Continued Evolution
Almost two years after Hitachi Capital Canada’s acquisition of CLE, François Nantel succeeded Luc Robitaille as president of CLE and Hitachi Capital Canada. This change also welcomed a meaningful transformation in the business development strategy. While continuing to offer traditional financing solutions, CLE and Hitachi Capital Canada are expanding their focus and efforts on more than just leasing and commercial lending. In the near future, the companies will provide Canadian entrepreneurs and businesses with revolving lines of credit, asset-based financing, and inventory financing.
CLE and Hitachi Capital Canada are also consolidating their presence in the Canadian market to facilitate the company’s growth strategy.
In addition to these new products, the sales and business development teams continue to grow. In 2002, there were 22 employees, and then up to 64 in 2012. Three years after the acquisition of CLE by Hitachi Capital Canada, the organization has now 156 employees – more than twice the number of 2012 – the initial year of the partnership with Hitachi Capital Canada.
These enhancements have enabled the company to enjoy considerable portfolio expansion. In 2000, CLE’s portfolio was $13.5 million. Today, a few days before the official celebrations of the fifth anniversary of this strong and prosperous collaboration, the portfolio of combined assets has reached approximately $800 million.
About CLE Capital
Active across Canada, CLE Capital (CLE) is a subsidiary of Hitachi Capital Canada. Since its foundation in 1979, then known as CLE Leasing, it has supported and accompanied very small businesses, SMEs and self-employed entrepreneurs by providing tailor-made financing solutions to help them with their equipment acquisitions. CLE is very active in the market segments of transportation equipment (trucks and trailers), construction equipment (small, medium and heavy), as well as manufacturing and food industry equipment. CLE’s head office is located in Trois-Rivières (Quebec), with a second official and significant place of business in Burlington, Ontario.
About Hitachi Capital Canada
Hitachi Capital Canada is a subsidiary of Hitachi Capital America, a member of the Japanese Hitachi Capital Corporation. Hitachi Capital Canada officially entered the Canadian market in October 2012, which is part of Hitachi Capital America’s growth strategy. On May 8, 2014, HCC acquired CLE. Hitachi Capital Canada’s activities focus on financing trucks, trailers and construction equipment. HCC benefits from the prestige and strength of the Hitachi brand to position itself effectively on the Canadian market. Hitachi Capital Canada is headquartered in Burlington, Ontario, with senior management and several management positions located in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.