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VOL. 130 | NO. 134 | Monday, July 13, 2015


Sisters Carry On Father’s Legacy at Bancroft Leasing

By Madeline Faber

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For the Bancroft sisters, talking about best-fit leasing options for agricultural equipment comes as easily as navigating the Memphis streets they've known all their lives. Together, the pair make up the second generation of Bancroft Leasing, an equipment leasing brokerage company started by their father, Charlie Bancroft, in 1977.

"We played in the office growing up. We talked on the phones and typed on the typewriters pretending to be businesswomen, and now it's our business for real," said younger sister Sheri Bancroft. The family office is in the original East Memphis location, but the principals have changed.

"(Older sister Julie Bancroft) and I will handle every deal together,” she added. “We can't pass it along to someone and say, ‘Someone from our credit department will be in touch.’ No, we are the credit department. We're going to talk to you about everything.”

Sisters Sheri Bancroft, left, and Julie Bancroft are the second generation of Bancroft Leasing.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Sheri officially joined the family business two years ago after working for DeltaARTS, a nonprofit that secures funding for education programs in Crittenden County schools.

"I'm used to going out there and finding money to help people and organizations," Sheri said. "It's important to us to get to know the customer, so we can tailor the deal to suit the customer's specific need. We are the seamstresses of the deal to make sure it all comes together one stitch at a time to create the best of cloaks."

During her high school years, Julie started helping her father with billing and other tasks. She went on to study finance at the University of Memphis and work with Leader Federal Bank, now known as Regions Bank, before returning to Bancroft Leasing in 2000.

"I do think I've had a good background with Daddy teaching me how to go in and analyze financials and taxes,” Julie said. “He kept up with continuing ed, so he was always up on the tax law. That helps when you're analyzing the package."

Julie takes on most of the deals that fall under the AG-LEASE division, which caters to the agriculture and aquaculture industries. She works with farming operations all over the United States and Canada seeking financing for everything from pivot irrigation to grain bins, greenhouses and even fencing. The company also recently added financing for commercial solar power.

Sheri is a generalist in that she works with startups, nonprofits, health care providers, government agencies, restaurants and everything in between.

"We understand the farmers' need for a payment structure to match their harvest cycle, cash flow and tax requirements," Julie said. "Most of our ag deals are set up with a nominal down payment, annual payments and a fixed buyout option at the end. We get to know our customers and what they want to accomplish, so they come back to us when they need additional equipment."

Bancroft Leasing works regularly with dozens of funders to secure capital for their clients.

"People come to us because they want to get something financed, and they're not sure about how to do it. We hold a hand in the whole process and identify where we think they should go," Sheri said.

One of the crucial lessons that their father imparted is to always double-check credit scores and tax preparations. Several ostensibly unlikely deals have been pushed through thanks to a corrected financial error. Sometimes mitigating circumstances need to be factored into a package, and this is especially the case with agriculture financing.

Julie offered the example of a farmer who had a series of late payments on a previous lease. She was able to prove that the late payments were due to a drought and crops not producing what was expected, and the farmer was able to securing additional funding.

Charlie Bancroft passed away in 2013 and left behind a legacy in the industry. In 1990, he and a handful of other brokers met in an Atlanta airport and decided to form the National Association of Equipment Leasing Brokers, an organization to uphold ethics in the industry.

Sheri was recently appointed to the board of directors of the NAELB, which is based in Louisville, Ky., and now boasts close to 1,000 members.

"It's extra special for me to be on the board because it's carrying on his legacy and the tradition and being a part of something greater than yourself," Sheri said. "He really was a national leader. I was just a kid growing up knowing that I had this cool dad, but I didn't know the breadth of his wingspan."

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