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Firestone Financial Continues to Build Success with Carnival & Parks Industry

Left: David Cohen, President & CEO Mike Smith, EVP & COO Sal Cifala, Senior Sales Executive Tom Varriale, SVP Sales & Marketing Mike Fisher, VP Sales Support & Development Alex Baggetta, Inside Sales Rep

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Firestone Financial has seen exponential growth over the last year, with its portfolio skyrocketing to more than $270 million. For 2018, the company set a record for new loans, with an 11 percent increase from 2017.

David Cohen, CEO and president of Firestone Financial, says that over the last year the company has also been refocusing its efforts to better serve its carnival and park customers, a base which continues to grow.
The company had the strongest and most enthusiastic attendance to date at its booth at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions expo in November. The Firestone Financial IAAPA booth featured 11 employees on-site, which, according to Cohen, was more staff present in the booth than the company had ever featured at previous IAAPA events. Cohen says the addition of staff at the booth was due in part to the fact that more people were needed to assist with foot traffic and to service customers, as business has been booming.

“I think there were a number of factors that drew people to the Firestone booth,” he shares. “Many of our long-time customers stopped by to see our veteran staff members, and we also had a number of new employees at the show who customers wanted to meet in person for the first time. We're also known throughout the industry as one of the top lenders in the carnival and amusements industries, which prompts many prospective customers to look for us specifically as they are shopping at the show and planning for the coming season.”

When it comes to business dealings with the amusement industry, Firestone Financial has been financing coin-operated amusement and vending equipment since the early 1980s. The business also began financing games and rides in the 90s. Since that time, Cohen says that Firestone Financial has financed more than $350 million in equipment and working capital for more than 600 customers. Another big reason for the continued success of the business is the company's employees. The dedicated staff  members are assigned to a specific industry where they are able to develop a deep knowledge of the business as well as the needs of the company's customers.
Firestone Financial continues to strive to better serve its customers in the amusement and parks industries and recently brought in Sal Cifala, a long-time amusement and vending sales lead, as a member of the company's carnival team. This was implemented so as to better serve clients and meet increasing demand. 

The business prides itself on integrity and building lasting relationships with customers and employees. Focal points are providing excellent service, showing exemplary teamwork and collaboration and finding the best solutions to challenges as they arise.

“I take pride that Firestone has been in business for more than 50 years, and that as a company we have provided small businesses across the U.S. with financing to help their business grow,” Cohen says.

He adds that Firestone also makes it a mission to assist borrowers with business growth, and for those in the amusement industries, to also help keep their equipment up-to-date and relevant.

“Our job is to support the operator,” Cohen shares. “We have never sold our loans and we work with our customers during the season when they may hit a rough spot – due to weather, or other business challenges. We're dedicated to the carnival industry and train our staff to build relationships that last,” he continues. “As a leader in carnival financing for over 25 years, Firestone is able to advise customers in all areas of their business and will continue to partner with our borrowers to help them thrive.”

Throughout 2018 and 2019, he adds, a key focus of the company has been to improve and streamline processes in a manner that will allow small transactions to be funded more quickly. The company  also strives to excel at understanding customer needs. More than 70 percent of business is derived from existing customers who keep on coming back year after year.

“We understand all the business cycles and the varying needs of our customers throughout their season,” Cohen reiterates. “Today we can fund larger deals, while still closing the smaller transactions Firestone is known for. In addition, we never 'change' the deal. There is no bait and switch, we honor our commitments, and we have always been supportive of the industry.

“We are grateful for the business, and while no one is perfect, we are committed to improving all the time,” he continues. “We take our customers' feedback seriously, and are always looking for ways to improve our process to better serve borrowers and respond to the changing needs in the market. I am proud of our staff and the work they do to assist our customers every day, year in and year out.”
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