CHARLOTTE — First Citizens Bank Equipment Finance has its eye toward growth in its industrial portfolio this year as the lender looks to capitalize on new technologies and leverage its salesforce to enter new markets.
First Citizens expects to originate $700 million to $750 million in industrial loans this year, Harold Ray, director of industrial finance at First Citizens Bank Equipment Finance, said at Equipment Finance Connect on Tuesday in Charlotte. Last year, First Citizens originated about $600 million in industrial loans, he said.
“It’s the year of the steal for us,” Ray said. “With everything going on in the marketplace, we know there’s an opportunity to grow our business. You’ll see us come up with a number of innovative structures to handle the customers’ needs out in the marketplace. What you do in one region may not necessarily work in another region of the country — that’s the challenge.
“We have 14 salespeople. I envision this growing another seven to 10 in the next coming two years. We just introduced a golf and turf business; I suspect we may get into agriculture,” Ray said. “There will be other niche markets that we get into — things that I’ve wanted to get into for a long time: manufacturing … autonomous units, some energy.”
Ray would like to get First Citizens into the protection business, too. “That’s something that’s very near and dear to my heart,” he said. “Whether I’m protecting somebody’s assets, their goods, their people, I just try to follow the money in our society. It makes a lot of sense for us.”
Down the line, First Citizen’s goal is $1 billion in annual industrial originations, Ray said.
“To get to a $1 billion, we’re going to have to branch out into other parts of the industrial market,” he said. “What I tell everybody internally is this: We’re at the tip of the iceberg, and we’ve done $600 million in business. There are other industries, other boutique industries, specialized industries — whether they’re in construction, material handling, transportation — that we still haven’t touched yet.”
First Citizens Bank Equipment Finance expects to originate $3 billion in loans this year across industrial, office imaging technology and the buy-sell business, Ray said. First Citizens has a portfolio of about $5.5 billion, he said.