CERTIFIED FOR GROWTH
Commonwealth Capital Corp
Commonwealth Capital Corp. provides equipment leasing and financial services in the U.S. Commonwealth’s expertise is in structuring information technology, medical technology and telecommunications equipment for large, creditworthy companies in all sectors of business. Founded in 1978 by George S. Springsteen, Commonwealth has negotiated, priced and structured more than $1.5 billion of equipment leases to companies nationwide.
Kimberly Springsteen-Abbott, Springsteen’s widow, took over the leadership of the company. In 2006, Springsteen-Abbott became Commonwealth’s sole shareholder. In 2008, the business applied for certification as a woman-owned diversity supplier with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). While certification doesn’t level the playing field completely, it does give Commonwealth an opportunity to compete. As a direct result of this certification, Commonwealth moved from being a purchaser of lease paper to a direct originator of leases.
Here, Springsteen-Abbott discusses how becoming a certified diversity supplier opened up new revenue opportunities.
Q: What service accounts for the majority of your revenue generation?
A: Commonwealth is both a sponsor and dealer/manager of equipment leasing funds, and has been since 1997. We raise capital via independent broker-dealer firms in the U.S. and use the proceeds of the raised capital to invest in technology equipment that is leased to major corporations. Revenue generation is a combination of the fees earned on the placing and management of assets within a fund, lease revenue earned, and the profit earned upon the completion of a successful fund.
Q: What is your target market?
A: Commonwealth adheres to a strict investment philosophy in choosing to work with the best companies in America. Commonwealth acquires new leases through two channels, direct origination and as a passive funding source, also referred to as indirect leasing. Historically, Commonwealth was primarily a passive funding source, acquiring lease transactions from other financial institutions, which impacted the total cost of the lease and limited our ability to work directly with the lessee to extend the life of the equipment in place. As a result of our status as a certified diversity supplier, Commonwealth’s focus today is structuring lease financing for Fortune 1000 and investment-grade equivalent corporations to meet their technology needs, primarily in the areas of information technology, telecommunications and medical technology equipment.
Q: How competitive is your industry and what is your competitive advantage?
A: Equipment leasing is highly competitive, with the majority of the large banks, GE Leasing and other vendor leasing companies (such as Dell Leasing) participating. Commonwealth’s distinct advantage is its Tier-1 certified diversity status. While our cost of funds is higher than our competitors’, we are able to offer a distinct advantage to our lessees by assisting them to meet their supplier diversity goals. Most major corporations in the U.S. are heavily dedicated to supplier diversity for minority-owned companies.
This diversity advantage stems from requirements for corporations that wish to conduct business with the federal government to award a certain percentage of their supply chain to certified diversity suppliers. In addition, many large firms have voluntary corporate commitments to diversity supply.
Q: What are some of the challenges facing women executives in your industry today? What advice do you have for women who aspire to leadership positions?
A: Women executives are facing the same challenges they have faced for decades, and many of the challenges are no different than those facing their male counterparts. Women aim just as high as their male peers do. I feel that women today who feel confident in themselves and their abilities can rise within their organizations, provided they work within an environment that supports diversity in the workplace and that they are comfortable with.