Rival Auto Execs Now Partners

As executives for different auto companies, Harold Poling and Ted Cunningham were archrivals. Now they're partners in Bankers Integration Group, dubbed BIG, a finance and insurance technology company. Poling is a former chairman of Ford Motor Co.; Cunningham, a former executive vice president of global sales and marketing for DaimlerChrysler AG. It's funny, says Cunningham. I knew Red as a competitor.

As executives for different auto companies, Harold “Red” Poling and Ted Cunningham were archrivals. Now they're partners in Bankers Integration Group, dubbed BIG, a finance and insurance technology company.

Poling is a former chairman of Ford Motor Co.; Cunningham, a former executive vice president of global sales and marketing for DaimlerChrysler AG.

“It's funny,” says Cunningham. “I knew Red as a competitor. I didn't realize until now what a nice guy he is.”

Poling is Bankers Integration's major investor and senior advisor. Cunningham is director of sales and marketing. Mike Dunn is president and CEO. He's secured $14 million in equity financing for the company, and $2.2 million and $1.6 million respectively for debt and lease financing.

The firm provides Internet-based automated lending systems for auto dealerships. It matches prospective vehicle buyers with loan programs based on information from loan applications, credit reports and such.

Deals are negotiated in real time and finalized in seconds, 24/7, says Dunn.

The company just introduced a “decisioning” engine called BIGFNI.

It allows dealers to prescreen loan applications and match them to lender programs.

It does not just transmit and aggregate an applicant's information electronically. Instead, it uses automated decision-making, based on participating lenders' criteria, before sending an application to a lender. That avoids excessive credit checks. Too many can hurt a customer's credit rating, says Cunningham.

BIG pays dealers to use the software.

Dealers are paid $15 on prime loans, a maximum of $50 for nonprime, over and above any spiff a lender pays a dealer.

“It's all up front and much more friendly and consumer-oriented,” says Cunningham.

Bankers Integration started as a general acceptance company, and in 1999 transformed into a dot-com. Poling looked at the process “and said it would be a perfect tool for auto dealerships,” says Dunn.

Cunningham says Poling and Robert Eaton, former chairman of Chrysler Corp. last year asked him if he'd be interested in joining Bankers Integration.

Cunningham, who started his automotive career in F&I before shifting to sales and marketing, says, “I thought we were on to something. I'm not an in-depth lender guy, but I could see the benefit.”

He says the firm signed up 300 dealers on cold calls, and signed up about 450 more at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in February.

“It's a marvelous start,” says Cunningham. “Not one dealer said they weren't interested.”

TAGS: Dealers Retail
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