Tag Archive | "GSFS"

GSFSGroup Hires New Compliance Director

HOUSTON – With an extensive career in diverse areas of the automotive industry, Lewis Kuhl brings a high level of expertise as the Senior Counsel and Director of Regulatory Compliance for GSFSGroup. He has responsibility for ensuring that the F&I products and each company are in compliance with the laws and regulations of each state in which they do business.

“It is a privilege to have Lewis join our team. His knowledge base and deep, legal understanding of the automotive industry and especially the F&I segment, is a great asset in the changing landscape of compliance,” said Diane Greene, Vice President, Legal Affairs, GSFSGroup. “At a time of rapid growth and expansion for GSFSGroup, Lewis’ expertise will be invaluable in maintaining the solid, credible reputation GSFSGroup and its product line have earned.”

Kuhl also serves as an Adjunct Faculty member at Northwood University in the Automotive Marketing and Management department where he teaches dealership legal issues. As a leading legal expert on automotive dealer issues, he is frequently invited to speak to dealer and industry related groups. A graduate of Northern Kentucky University, Salmon P. Chase College of Law, he is a member of the American Bar Association as well as the Kentucky Bar Association, Florida Bar and the National Association of Dealer Counsel.

His career history includes both law firms and automotive companies. While working in private practice at both Kurkin Brandes, LLP and Pathman Lewis, LLP, Kuhl focused his practice on motor vehicle dealer and automotive industry law. He also acted as legal counsel for JM Family Enterprises, Inc., a privately held automotive company, where he worked in the legal departments of World Omni Financial Corp., Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC and JM&A Group. In addition, he served in both legal and operational positions for a group of companies comprised of motor vehicle rental operations, motor vehicle dealerships and an automotive finance company.

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An Interview with Steve Amos

For anyone who has the privilege of spending time with Steve Amos, president and CEO, Gulf States Financial Services (GSFS), one thing is clear – integrity is the foundation on which the company is built. “We operate with a very, very strong set of values – whether it’s working with each other, working with a potential customer or with all our policy holders. Our focus is doing the right thing in all our transactions.” says Amos, “It’s important to us as we live our values everyday.”

GSFS is a national company and is the exclusive provider for Toyota in the Gulf States region. In addition to Toyota, they do business with Chevrolet, Kia, Nissan, Honda, Ford, Chrysler and other manufacturers across the U.S. They also provide extensive compliance and sales training for their dealers. GSFS’s basic product offerings are vehicle service contracts, tire and wheel, GAP, prepaid maintenance, lease VSCs, key replacement, etch, and environmental protection.

As one of the few companies in the industry that is active in all vehicle service contract participation programs, GSFS offers retroactive dealer commissions, NCFC, dealer obligor, dealer owned warranty company, as well as dealer owned CFC or ARCS. “We want to be able to be able to provide the dealer the program that is right for them – and not be limited by what we sell,” stated Amos, “so we offer them all.”

On the Horizon

Amos shared several new products they are offering in 2014. In response to the resurgence in leasing, GSFS launched a new VSC at the beginning of the year, specifically designed for lease vehicles. Amos says it has been extremely well received. In addition, they have recently launched a new lifetime powertrain warranty that will be available nationwide. GSFS is also revising all of its used car programs and launching a prepaid maintenance service drive program designed to be sold exclusively on the service drive.

With technology rapidly changing, those changes are affecting the way business is done – changes that Amos sees as very positive. “We are rapidly moving all our dealers to a paperless environment. We don’t have to send them contracts and they don’t have to send them back to us. They can access all the information on our products and pricing online.” Amos says this is a trend he sees continuing in the future as technology rapidly advances.

Amos says dealers are looking more and more for web-based solutions for how they sell cars and ultimately how they offer the finance and insurance products to consumers. “Its something we’ve got to stay ahead of because when you think about what’s changed, just technology-wise in the last ten years, it is like night and day. Cars are going to be sold on the Internet and F&I products will be sold there, too. We have to ensure our field teams can teach, train and work with dealers so that it becomes an integral part of their business. The real issues challenging everybody are how to present products online, maintain profitability, maintain customer satisfaction and protect the integrity of the sale.”

Executive by Day, Race Car Driver by Night

When Amos is not working, you won’t find him sitting home watching TV. “On days off, I occasionally play a little golf,” says Amos, “but most of the time I’m not working, I spend at the race track.” Amos, who races cars all over the country, also works as a high speed racing instructor for BMW of America, Porsche of America as well as a private race school based out of Texas. “It keeps me busy, but is a good, relaxing way to spend a weekend and get away from the pressures at work.”

Amos says racing is addictive and he got hooked on racing in high school, while living in Europe. “Sports car racing in Europe is like the NFL is here. I got hooked going to the LeMans races and Nurburgring Races and have been in and out of racing most of my life. Ever since I was a little boy, I have always loved cars.”

Growing up with a father in the Air Force, Amos lived all over the world – Alaska, Germany, and the Mojave Desert to name a few places. He graduated from high school in Germany, and moved back to his birthplace of Texas to attend college. Amos describes being an Air Force kid as a good life. He enjoyed living on Air Force Bases and says that it gave him a complete appreciation for the military.

After college, Amos says he was one of the few college grads who went to work selling cars. “I started out selling Pontiacs in Dallas, Texas, and eventually was promoted up to a general manager/ managing partner of a Toyota dealership.” Then all of a sudden, he found himself married with two young sons and wanting more time with them than the retail business allowed, where he regularly worked nights and weekends. “I went on a mission to solve the family issue and I wound up being very fortunate getting in the insurance business and the service contract industry. It was kind of interesting though – soon I found myself traveling 80% of the time, so I was actually gone more – but I was home on weekends and holidays so I felt like it was a fair trade off.” After being in the insurance business for over 20 years, Amos says he never really minded the travel, but now he does not have to do it nearly as much.

A Look at Tomorrow

As he looks at the future of the industry, Amos says the compliance world is here to stay and GSFS thrives on that fact. “There are a lot of unknowns as to what the CFPB is going to do in the years to come and how they are going to regulate things. That’s why our culture is so important to us.” Amos says that GSFS’s goal is to ensure their dealer clients are well in tune with what they need to be doing to be compliant and ethical. Over the years, he says they have learned that if you do those things, you can be very, very successful. “The consumer recognizes and appreciates integrity the moment you sit down to complete an automobile transaction with them. The CFPB, will make us all better at what we do. It won’t affect the people who are transacting business the right way but it will expose those who don’t.”

Amos says that their competitors are also competing on the highest level of integrity. “It’s just a reminder to keep doing what you have done. I could go on and on about all the stuff the CFPB has done but if you think about it, the fact is, their name is Consumer Financial Protection – their interest is in protecting the consumer! And at GSFS, our philosophy is that we have products that are very easily sold and are very easily bought. They provide customers coverage they need when they really need it – so we are in favor of that.”

What advice would Amos give to someone new to the industry? If you get in the industry, stay in it, because it is exciting! “I think the next ten years are probably going to be the most exciting ten years ever in the car business. It is not going to be just the same old thing year after year. There is going to be constant change and constant innovation. Manufacturers are building the most beautiful, well-manufactured cars that they have ever built. You simply need to work hard, keep learning and above all, maintain the utmost integrity in everything you do.”

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An Interview with Gulf States Financial Services President, Steve Amos

After Agent Summit, Steve Amos, president of Gulf States Financial Services, sat down with AE Magazine and answered some questions for this month’s “View From the Top.” In the following interview, Amos shares his overview of the industry, discusses his company and products, and looks into the future with a positive mindset.

Share with our readers an overview on Gulf States Financial Services and the products that are offered.

Gulf States Financial Services (GSFS), marketed as GSFSGroup, is a 30 year old company initially devoted to only Toyota dealers in the Gulf States region. The five state region is comprised of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Within this region, Gulf States Toyota is the exclusive distributor for all parts, service and vehicles. GSFSGroup is responsible for all the finance and insurance products and services to all Toyota dealers in the Gulf States region. GSFSGroup offers the gambit of finance and insurance products: service contracts, GAP, tire and wheel, prepaid maintenance, credit insurance and soon to introduce several new products. One is an excess wear and tear product for Toyota leases and another is a bundled product that includes windshield, tire and wheel and door ding as a single product line.

For GSFS, Toyota is only part of our business. The other half of our business (where we are seeing excellent growth) is our National Sales Division. This division is dedicated throughout all fifty states in the U.S. We offer finance and insurance products along with training and compliance support to dealerships across the country via our general agency network.

When we look at what will drive our future growth, it’s our Gulf States dealers and our network of General Agents. These two sales divisions are where we will find success now and for many, many years in the future.

How do your products differ from others?

What separates us from others are a couple of things. Number one is how we do business with our partners. We are a very, very value based company in terms of our corporate ethics and moral values and operate our business accordingly. Every transaction and every phone call is based on the intrinsic nature of doing the right thing for our customers.

We look at our business and our products from the perspective that we have three primary customers. The first is the individual that buys one of our products from one of our dealers. The second is the dealer that sells our products to the consumer. The third and equally important customer is our District Managers and General Agents.

In addition, we differentiate ourselves with our VSC programs. We offer every participation model available plus one or two that others don’t have. We offer a non-controlled foreign corporation (NCFC) product and we own the NCFC. We have Controlled Foreign Corporation better known as CFC. We offer very creative retroactive commission programs, as well as a Dealer Owned Warranty Company program and a fast growing Dealer Obligor program.

So when you combine our corporate values, our focus on doing the right thing with every decision we make and offering all the different participation programs we’re confident we stand out from the competition. We don’t want to be the biggest. We want to be the best at working with our customers.

Steve, you’ve stated your target markets and your message you want to give them. Please elaborate.

Overall, our target market is automobile dealers in America. We offer Toyota F&I products in the Gulf States region but also offer our products to all other manufacturers in the U.S. Our message is simple. Take care of our customers.

Are there any plans for on the horizon for RV or Powersports?

There are thoughts of moving into those areas but right now we are totally focused on expanding our Toyota footprint within Gulf States as well as the agency side of our business. If I had to say, I would say that the powersports market would be the next market we would consider.

Tell us about yourself and the path that led to President of GSFS.

It’s been an interesting road. I started in the car business over 30 years ago selling cars (Pontiacs), and worked my way up to General Manager of a large Dallas dealership. I made the decision to move into the insurance side of the business and never looked back. I’ve been on the insurance side of the business for almost 20 years. Prior to GSFSGroup, I was with a competitor. When the opportunity with Gulf States came up it was impossible to pass up. The quality of all the Gulf States companies as well as GSFSGroup was very appealing to me. I saw the opportunity for GSFSGroup to become a great company.

Do you miss selling cars?

I do miss it but I love what I’m doing now. The retail car business is an exciting and evolving business. You’re selling something every day; selling service, selling parts, selling cars, selling finance products. There is action on a constant basis. It’s a very enthusiastic business that’s hard to walk away from. That’s why I’m glad to still be in the car business.

How do you feel the industry has changed in the last five years and what changes do you see in the future?

I would say technology and compliance has and will continue to shape our industry.

In the last five years technology has taken over so many things. There is a concentrated effort by all companies to become paperless in all of their transactions. The advances in technology in our industry has made our business a far more accurate and efficient business.

With constant regulatory changes we focus more and more of our time working with our customers to stay focused on being compliant and ethical in all their transactions. This goes to our core values.

In the last five years the industry has been from the top of the world to the bottom of the world and we’re going back up again. The last three years have been the most challenging years but the car business is still strong and getting stronger. I look to 2012 and 2013 to be very good years.

Is there a particular product that will help drive your success?

I think there are several. Prepaid maintenance programs have been somewhat of a dormant product for about 20 years but have really hit the radar screen in dealerships. There is good understanding as to the value in prepaid maintenance programs. In addition, our variety of Vehicle Service Contract participation programs will drive our business in the future as well.

Lastly, delivering excellent customer service is critical to our success. To me it doesn’t matter how far technology goes because one thing remains true. It is how you conduct yourself and conduct your business with your customers. That will never change in business.

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