NEWTON, MA -- Firestone Financial Corp., which is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, inducted nine amusement and music equipment distributors and four manufacturers into its Platinum Partner Club in a ceremony held in Firestone's booth at the recent Amusement Expo in Las Vegas. Amusement Expo was jointly organized and sponsored by the Amusement and Music Operators Association and the American Amusement Machine Association.
The inductees were honored for their innovation and leadership roles in the industry, and for being among the lender's top partners during the previous year. Firestone began the Platinum Partner Club four years ago.
Distributors named to the prestigious Platinum Club are American Vending Sales (Elk Grove Village, IL), Brady Distributing (Charlotte, NC), Game Exchange of Colorado (Denver), H. Betti Industries (Carlstadt, NJ) and H.A. Franz & Co. (Houston), along with Moss Distributing (Des Moines, IA), Mountain Coin Machine Distributors (Salt Lake City), Shaffer Distributing (Columbus, OH ) and Specialty Coin Products (Portland, OR).
Manufacturers inducted into the Club for 2010 are AMI Entertainment Network (Bristol, PA), Apple Industries (Baychester, NY), JVL Corp. (Concord, ON, Canada) and TouchTunes Music Corp. (New York City). [PHOTO: From left, David Cohen of Firestone; Mike Maas of AMI; Allen Weisberg of Apple Industries; Peter Guterres of JVL; Dan McAllister of TouchTunes; Jim Hines of Firestone.]
Firestone president and chief executive David Cohen, who also is chairman of AAMA, observed that the industry has been grappling with tough economic times. He applauded the industry's manufacturers for digging in and continuing the new-product development "that keeps the excitement going that stimulates sales -- which in turn provides new products for distributors to sell and operators to place on their routes." And he cited the subsidized finance promotions that build incremental sales.
Cohen commended the distributors for providing operators with the equipment and service they need to thrive. "It is your salesmanship and relationships with the operators that have allowed all of us to be part of this industry," he emphasized.
He also thanked both groups for their long-term relationships with Firestone, which has been doing business with some of them for more than three decades; 75% of the company's volume is done with its existing customers.
Established in 1965, Firestone Financial Corp. lends millions of dollars each month to coin-op amusement and vending customers in all 50 states. It also has many customers in the carnival trade. The company reports that, despite the sluggish economy, more than 90% of loan applications are being approved at present.
Cohen estimates that Firestone has provided $700 million in financing since 2001, when the company became privately owned.
Earlier this year, the financial services company honored its own employees. Every year, the company acknowledges staff members' years of service to the organization, starting at the five-year mark.
Seven employees were honored this year. Senior staff accountant Holly He and marketing coordinator Melissa Siegal received their five-year awards, and 15-year honors were conferred on sales and marketing vice-president Larry Yaffe, senior vice-president of credit operations Celine Perrault and sales vice-president Jim Hines.
Recognized for 20 years of service was executive vice-president and chief financial officer Scott Cooper, and assistant vice-president of credit operations Linda Reffelt took the palm for her 25 years with the company.
"While the recipe for this longevity has a number of ingredients, it is the people, their dedication, and their willingness to work hard and to follow the leadership that sustains the company," Cohen said.
"I know that the founders of Firestone as well as the current senior management team are extremely proud of all the people who work at Firestone; those in the past, today and in the future," he emphasized.