October 10, 2018
North Dakota-based Bell Bank, which has been expanding in the Twin Cities market, is betting companies and contractors will remain eager in coming years to spend on equipment.
Bell Bank is launching a new equipment finance division in Minneapolis to serve the manufacturing, transportation, construction and agriculture industries. The new unit will build upon existing relationships in the Twin Cities market, said Raoul Booton, the new unit’s managing director.
“The bank started a traditional bank here in Minneapolis in 2012, and a big piece of why the equipment finance piece is here is because here is where we identified the talent that would grow and lead that group,” Booton said Monday in an interview.
Many companies are looking to make capital investments, especially in ways that will increase automation and productivity as they face persistent workforce shortages. In manufacturing, for instance, 32 percent of companies surveyed in Enterprise Minnesota’s 2018 State of Manufacturing report planned to make capital expenditures this year, a record for that survey. Booton says he expects a strong economy to continue driving new investment in heavy equipment, from bulldozers to laser cutters.
“Short to medium term, I feel confident about those trends continuing,” he said. “Long term, this type of lending in terms of loss rates does very well in a downturn.”
The new unit will serve companies in a 17-state area and can follow those companies to locations elsewhere in the country. Bell will work directly with vendors and equipment manufacturers to offer financing packages for potential buyers, with current clients wanting to buy or lease equipment, and on syndicated transactions with other banks, Booton said.
The bank has named Eric Zehr, a veteran of Farm Credit Leasing, GE Capital and Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, as president of the new unit. Booton expects the team to continue growing as Bell expands into the equipment finance market.