Capital Network Leasing Corp. Sherman Oaks

Business: Equipment leasing

Founded: 2001

Local Employees: 36

A sign in the offices of Capital Network Leasing Corp. displays the words of Teddy Roosevelt: "When you play, play hard; when you work, don't play at all."

And in an intensely sales-driven industry, the employees at CapNet live by that credo. The company expects workers to work hard from the moment they are hired. They also can earn as much as $100 extra if they perform well during their first week just a taste of the extensive bonuses available for big producers.

"It feels good to have a goal when you come to work everyday," said President Blake Johnson. "Some people get lost with numerical goals. So we've done a good job of breaking it down into daily (sales) goals."

CapNet provides funding for equipment leases in 35 industries, from agriculture and construction to high technology and movie production. Customers range in size from Walt Disney Co. to mom-and-pop outfits, with a typical transaction at about $200,000.

The company's car bonus exemplifies its approach. Based on first-year performance, the company contributes to an employee's car lease for as much as $1,000 per month. All members of Johnson's sales staff have qualified for the car bonus program at varying levels of monthly incentive. Mercedes, BMW and Range Rover rank as the favorite models among the staff.

"We all come to work to make money. When you can make more by working a little harder, it sort of validates spending your time at work instead of outside enjoying the Southern California sunshine," said Brian Spratt, a sales agent.

Before joining CapNet, Spratt worked as a stockbroker at Morgan Stanley and drove a Honda Accord. Now, thanks to the bonus system, he drives a Lexus ES 350. He believes the auto bonus fits well with car-centric lifestyle in Los Angeles.

Other bonuses include steak dinners, helicopter rides, trips to Palm Springs or San Diego, and quarterly cash incentives. Johnson notes that every one of his salespeople who have more than three years with the company makes at least $8,000 per month, or roughly $100,000 per year.

"The culture dictates that people are very focused," Johnson said. "All the salesmen tie the same double Windsor knot and the saleswomen always look sharp. Even though it's inside sales, people still wear suits everyday. It's putting on a uniform and getting at it."

Spratt says that customers choose CapNet for speedy financing and quick delivery of the equipment. The company tagline sums up the approach: "Real Financing. Real Fast."

But it takes an employee with special knowledge to quickly turn around lease transactions, so for that reason, the company also distinguishes itself with an intensive training program that lasts six months and involves close supervision by a mentor.

"The right people will either make or break your company," Johnson said. "If you expect an above-average work ethic and return on investment from your employees, you have to identify and recruit the right people then make sure their personal fulfillment and financial success are beyond those of everyone else they know."

Joel Russell

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