MRDA Wraps Up a Successful Heartland Tradeshow

Jun 18, 2012

"It's been a really great show," said MRDA President J.C. Cox. "We're getting a lot of good feedback about the new show schedule, which we hoped would allow for greater attendance for the vendors. We're very pleased with the turnout and especially with the first time vendors and dealers. We're always proud to bring new members into the family of this landmark state association."

New ColorTyme Franchise Development Manager Clyde Stutzman is one of several first time attendees at the Heartland Show. Most recently vice president of franchise development at the Premier Companies, Stutzman, along with ColorTyme CEO Cathy Skula and Vice President of Franchise Sales Michael Landry are ushering in a new era at RTO's longest running franchise company.

"Our mission is to grow store count and we really want to hit the ground running by reaching out to the state associations at shows like these and being a part of the conversation," Stutzman said.

Stutzman sees a bright future for ColorTyme and for RTO in general. He appreciates a hearty conversation about RTO's place in a changing economy and, along with Skula and Landry, is having that discussion with industry operators on a daily basis on the LinkedIn group -- Rent to Own Professionals -- ColorTyme created.

Group membership now numbers 145 including independent, franchise and corporate dealers, vendors and other industry professionals.

"We're looking for people to interact and have these discussions about meeting our customers needs and running a successful operation," Stutzman said. "It doesn't belong to ColorTyme. We want to be prepared to meet that demand that is bringing a new type of customer to our doorstep."

Stutzman said the two most affecting dynamics he sees playing out in the industry today are dealer optimism and a willingness to expand, re-design, re-locate and re-message to prepare for the future demand identified and confirmed in study after study. The second however, is a "lack of resources" to make those adjustments to maximize the opportunities.

These are issues ColorTyme is tackling head on with open dialogue and fee adjustments to identify burgeoning RTO products and markets and what dealers need to "establish and grow their businesses" he said.

Dan Cole, avid fisherman and owner of National Rent To Own, sets aside $200,000 to spend at MRDA each year. This year he brought 31 mangers to help stock his 36-store company. He lets them decide what to purchase and rarely vetoes their choices.

"It gives them a little more ownership of the stores and the company and I generally like what they pick out," said Cole, MRDA's fourth president. "That was really a turning point for the association when Gary Romine started this show. It was the first time we really brought dealers and vendors together like this. It's really grown into something special and I think this show will always have a place in the RTO landscape. This association has thrived due to the strength of the people who started it 20-25 years ago and stuck around."