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A graphic depicting the process of Innovation: groups create, communicate and then commercialize their innovative ideas.

Enabling a culture of innovation

National Leasing

By:

At National Leasing, continuous innovation is a philosophy that all employees make possible.

Image of article in Equipment Leasing & Finance Magazine.

As seen in the January/February 2017 issue of Equipment Leasing & Finance.
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As Canada’s equipment financing expert, National Leasing, enters their 40th year in business, we ask president and CEO, Tom Pundyk, how their culture has helped them stand the test of time while steering them towards a bright tomorrow.

Over the past 40 years, you have seen many equipment leasing companies come and go. What advice do you have for other companies striving to stand the test of time?

Focus on your people. I was National Leasing’s first employee and along the way there were opportunities to go elsewhere, but the truth is my co-workers became my family and National Leasing became my home. And that’s how we have always aimed to treat people – like family. We create an environment that most people do not want to leave. When you achieve that, the knowledge base your employees bring to the job every day is unfathomable. Your employees should understand the business so well that they are constantly coming up with ways to improve, and they see that as part of their job. 

How do you create a culture that is so open to innovation?

Ensure your leadership team trusts employees to make the right decisions. When employees sense this, they automatically feel empowered and become naturally engaged in the process. Employees will then embrace the change that comes with new ideas, as well as come up with their own ideas. It just makes sense that highly engaged employees are naturally innovative. 

Where do you think companies should be focusing their efforts as we look at shifting demographics?

We are now at the population tipping point where there will be less baby-boomers than younger generations. Leasing companies are no longer competing with each other. We are competing with leading-edge fintechs, who appeal to a generation which expects to do everything online and experience instant gratification. Creating a digital experience, which is personalized to each customer’s journey with us will be critical to our success in the next five to ten years and beyond.

All of this will likely happen in a rising rate environment, given where we are in the economic cycle. Will investing heavily in technology be viable?

Investing in technology will be absolutely necessary to combat rising rates. As margins grow thinner, leasing companies must become smarter and more efficient. For example, our product release last year, National Leasing Interactive, created a digital quoting experience for equipment dealers while allowing us complete control over variable pricing that is customized to each specific dealer. Before, we had no hard data on how often dealers were quoting end users and they very easily could be using out-of-date rates. There is now complete transparency that can be controlled at the click of a button. And, I am most proud of this, because the idea came from a cross-functional team of employees who, after given the resources, brought it to market in only 12 months. That is what it will take to stay competitive.    

Constantly churning out meaningfully unique ideas can be tiring over a long period of time. How do you keep employees motivated?

A systems approach to innovation is key to driving meaningfully unique ideas.  We actually have a team of people who were trained on fostering ideas. Through this, we’ve empowered employees to implement these ideas which can lead to disruptive change that needs to be carefully managed. I think what makes our approach different, is we make sure employees have fun along the way.  On December 1st, we launched a complete re-write of our core leasing system with in-house developers and an agile project management approach. Our employees are working harder than they ever have, but time is taken for rock, paper, scissor tournaments, NERF gun wars and pie throwing competitions. Focusing on the positive and keeping people happy is always a good return on investment.  

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National Leasing was the 2016 winner of the ELFA Technology and Operations Award and was recently named to Canada’s Top 100 employers list for the first time. From their head office in Winnipeg, they adjudicate over $2 billion in financing applications per year, brought to them by 60 Account Managers and an elite broker network from across Canada. 

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