Ascentium’s Len Baccaro Assists Franchisees With Project Financing
Len Baccaro is helping franchisees hit the “refresh” button by providing project financing for store remodeling mandates, among other projects. Baccaro serves as senior vice president of franchise development at Ascentium Capital, the largest privately owned equipment finance company in the country.
That refresh segment of the market is extremely frothy right now. “It seems as though every single concept is either remodeling or reimaging, including both food and non-food franchises,” says Baccaro. “While business is good, everyone is redoing their stores and that’s what we’re seeing.”
Baccaro started out in the equipment financing industry in the late 1980s. During the first half of his career, Baccaro focused on providing financing for a variety of different sectors ranging from office furniture to medical equipment. He and his brother Richard started their own company, Independent Capital in 1996. They then sold that company to First Sierra Financial in 1998. “As the economy changed over the 30-plus years we have been in the industry, we moved in and out of different verticals,” says Baccaro.
American Equipment Finance was then formed by the Baccaros in 2002 and this new group rolled into franchise financing in a big way, also becoming a preferred lender for a variety of franchisors, while also focusing in sectors such as restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores among others.
In 2011, the Baccaros sold their company to private equity firm Ascentium Capital. Both Baccaro and his brother went to work for Ascentium. “We basically helped the company enter the retail space in lending to small and medium businesses,” says Baccaro.
Last year the firm provided more than $1.2 billion in financing across all of its verticals. Specific to the franchise sector, Ascentium specializes in providing non-bank, non-broker financing for projects under $1 million that don’t involve real estate.
The company’s main value proposition is that it can go up to $300,000 on an application only, meaning that they don’t need to get a financial package from the franchisee as long as they have been in business for two years. “So, we’re a great fit for all of these refresh and remodel mandates,” says Baccaro.
The remodeling projects tend to be more construction oriented versus traditional equipment financing. In that regard, Ascentium offers a soft cost project financing program that is unique to the industry. Franchisee borrowers don’t need to put up any equity. It’s 100% financing, and unlike other lenders, Ascentium also doesn’t put a blanket lien on the store for that remodel project.
Franchisors are certainly in a financing environment where there is a lot of competition and a lot of different options. Baccaro advises franchisors to not add a lender to their preferred or approved vendor lists without fulling vetting them first. “When the economy is booming the way it is now there are huge numbers of people who are not incredibly experienced in financing—who are dialing for dollars and cold calling for new business,” he says. Baccaro also suggests that franchisors provide a variety of options without going overboard. Offering too many lender choices, such as more than five or six, can actually end up creating more confusion, he says. For more information, contact Len at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-902-1931.