Jon Vestal, senior vice president of powersport sales at Roadrunner Financial, the in-house lending arm of Octane, leverages his 12-plus years of sales experience to bring a personalized touch to leadership in a market defined by technological advancements, bolstered consumer demand, new products and strong competition.
Vestal entered retail finance for outdoor power equipment and powersports in dealer direct national sales with First Community Bank in October 2015, and joined Octane in December 2017.
“I joined Octane as their [vice president] of outdoor power equipment to stand up their zero turn, lower lending business, and then moved into the VP of sales role,” Vestal told Auto Finance News.
Vestal is leading Roadrunner Financial during a period of growth for the lender. Over the past year, Octane expanded its powersports financing portfolio to include tractor and trailer financing, and added prime financing for golf carts through a partnership with manufacturer Club Car.
Octane in May launched a digital retail program with e-commerce provider Joydrive, expanding the lender’s partnership with manufacturer Polaris to allow consumers to complete most of the buying and financing process online before setting foot in a dealership.
Octane’s managed portfolio was $893 million as of Jan. 31, 2022, according to an S&P Global ratings presale report of the company’s April securitization.
Auto Finance Excellence spoke with Vestal about the current industry trends and connecting with consumers. What follows is an edited version of the conversation.
Auto Finance Excellence: What are your company goals in about 10 words or less?
Jon Vestal: Connect consumers with their passions through lending powered by technology.
AFE: What is your favorite piece of leadership advice ever received?
JV: Someone once told me: , “The best decision is the one you make.” What that means to me is you can’t wait to get more information. Ultimately, you’ve got to make a decision and make it in that moment. So much in life and business can be held up through indecision, so make a well-informed decision using every bit of information you have, the tools you have and the people you have. I think that’s something I’ve carried with me through my years as a sales leader.
AFE: Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
JV: I’ve had the good fortune of having several mentors over the years and having good family influences. I’ll start with my father. One of the things I saw in him that has been a great influence on me is to be a person of integrity. If you can do that one thing, it means you’re doing your best work every time. It means you’re being honest with your customers every time and not paying lip service to them. Second to that is always do your best work for every client.
The second person would be my grandfather. The thing he taught me was treat every single person in your organization the same. That can be from the frontline worker to the chief executive, the chairman of the board and everyone in between. You can’t do what we do alone. Our job is to lead people, and I think if you can be who you are and you treat people the way you treat everyone, it can really help you gain the trust of your entire organization.
AFE: What do you think is the most underrated lending trend?
JV: An underrated lending trend is soft credit pulls. More specifically, a consumer’s ability to get pre-qualified with a soft pull. A soft pull is commonplace in many industries, but there is limited availability in powersports.
AFE: What’s something your employees would be surprised to learn about you?
JV: I don’t think they’d be too surprised by anything. I try to bring my full self to the role, and I think if you spoke with other leaders, depending on their functional area, you might find that most sales leaders say the same thing. Sales is a full, 360 [degree] role, and part of our job is to get to know our customers, whether it’s our dealers or manufacturing partners. There probably aren’t too many surprises that I could bring to them. I think that goes back to really getting to know your people and getting to be a good leader.
Powersports Finance Summit, a premier event for companies involved in recreational vehicle financing, returns October 25-26 at the Wynn Las Vegas. To learn more about the 2022 event and register, visit www.PowersportsFinance.com.