The fleets at Rollins Inc. and Crawford & Company, headquarted in Atlanta, were the two largest leasing clients of B&M Equipment for many years. B&M provided special services and delivery needs that the fleet directors at those companies say were hard to find in other lessors.
Since Dec. 7, 2001, Rollins and Crawford & Company have been pursuing other options, since that is the date they were notified that the Beaudry Ford dealership in Atlanta, along with its subsidiary, B&M Equipment, were closing down. According to an Atlanta Business Chronicle article, Beaudry Ford has been in business for 85 years. The article states that car sales in Atlanta dropped 17.6 percent since April. The article states Beaudry Ford President Harmon Born declined to say what led to the decision, but Born said that he is not filing for bankruptcy. The article states that employees were told the dealership would close by Dec. 31, and that Beaudry would be selling off its remaining cars and trucks at a discount.
David McKeone, assistant vice president, director of fleet management services for Crawford & Company, said his fleet of 1,520 vehicles operates on a closed-end lease, and said he is finding fewer and fewer lessors willing to do a closed-end lease. Crawford & Company has done about 90 percent of its leasing business with B&M Leasing on and off for about 13 years.
McKeone said he would like to continue to fund his fleet using a closed-end lease.
“I’ve been in the business more than 30 years, and I still haven’t been able to forecast the future of used cars because there are so many variables such as zero-percent financing, the economy going down the chute, or gas prices rising,” he said. “You can look at all the history but you still can’t forecast the unpredictable. So a lot of companies decide they would rather avoid that issue.”
B&M Assisted Rollins’ Fleet with Drive-Through Deliveries
Bowen, with 30 years of transportation experience as well, basically echoed the same thoughts as McKeone and especially about their comfort with a closed-end lease. But when Bowen talks about the relationship Rollins had with B&M, one of the first things that comes to his mind is “flexibility.”
Bowen manages 6,247 vehicles as fleet director for Rollins Inc. He said B&M performed what is called “drive-through deliveries” as a means to making their deal work. A large number of Rollins’ orders were delivered to Beaudry Ford in Atlanta. A B&M driver would then drive the new vehicle one of its branches, swap it out, and drive the old vehicle back to Atlanta. The balance of their orders were delivered via drop-shipment.
“That’s not a service other leasing companies typically offer,” Bowen said. “B&M retailed many of the old vehicles they brought back to Atlanta to improve the residual value of our leases. This in turn lowered out lease payments. B&M always ended up lower than other bidders.”
“We had a mutually beneficial arrangement, and B&M always came to us with the best financial arrangements,” Bowen said. “B&M always exhibited tremendous flexibility as well in working with out account, a flexibility that was not available to us with other companies that bid on our business in the past.”