Wednesday, Mar. 07, 2007, 07:00 PM UPDATED 11:59 AMBy Nick Zulovich
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Westlake Financial Services recently named Bruce Newmark as president. He succeeds James Vagim, who has served as Westlake's president since 1998.
Prior to this new role, Newmark served as the company's chief operating officer, overseeing all aspects of marketing, expansion and external production of indirect subprime automotive loans through a nationwide non-affiliated dealer base.
As president, Newmark said he hopes to continue Westlake's growth with a focus on expanding its line of full-spectrum business products.
He noted that Westlake's business model has evolved since its inception in 1988 and now originates in more than 30 states. Continued growth is bolstered with a full line of finance options for dealers from non-underwritten payment-sharing programs to prime and near-prime programs, in addition to the current expansion of the company's franchised dealer program, Newmark explained.
"I am excited about the opportunity to succeed Jim as president of Westlake," Newmark said. "Jim's contributions to Westlake's growth and success are well known. It has been great working for him during the past nine years, and we will all miss him.
"Additionally, we wish him and his family well for the future, as he is now able to pursue his other interests and spend time with his family," Newmark added.
Don Hankey, chairman of the board, pointed out, "Bruce has been instrumental in much of Westlake's recent success. He is well equipped to handle his new responsibilities and to ensure that Westlake continues to experience the kind of growth and success that it has seen over the last few years."
Newmark Offers Insights into Westlake
At Leedom and Associates' 11th Annual National Special Finance and Buy-Here, Pay-Here Conference late last year, Newmark served on a lender panel and offered insights into how his company does business, in addition to providing some advice to dealers.
In response to independent dealers in attendance who shared their frustration with trying to develop relationships with lenders, Newmark explained that there is some turnover in the lender industry, especially for companies that specialize in serving independent dealers. One of the preventative measures dealers can take to avoid losing such a lender is by thoroughly researching a company before approaching them for business, he said.
Dealers shouldn't focus on the short-term when it comes to lenders, Newmark noted, saying they should focus on the long-term and companies that have been around the industry longer than a few deals.
One of the top requests from independent dealers in the audience was for the panel to explain signing criteria. Newmark noted that his company made a commitment to work with independent dealers more than 25 years ago and still lives up to that.
"We look at the dealer principal and his credit," he explained. "A lot of our dealers were small guys and started out with us when they were brand new. We work to be resource in the market for independents. We like our dealers to have a slightly better credit than our customers."
Westlake has 75 representatives throughout the country in various states, Newmark said.
"They look at your lot," he told attendees. "Is your inventory well-reconditioned? What type of units do you have? Our representatives can tell how well a dealer pays attention to his business and reports back to us.
"Dealers who put together a business prospective are more likely to succeed in the long run, but it isn't necessary a requirement for us," he continued. "How long has a dealer been in business? Who is he flooring with? What's the history of the dealer? Is he looking to stay in one location? What does see when he looks down the road? What's his credit quality and reputation? We want dealers with the best reputations."
Newmark went on to say that Westlake does not have any specific consumer application criteria.
"We let you play with the program on your end," he said. However, he noted his company does not use consumer credit scores in its application analysis.
Newmark said dealers can simply continue tweaking what is entered into the program, such as different vehicles and more, until approval is offered. Given the way the program works, he said dealers can usually figure out how to get approval themselves.
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