In a sign that lenders increasingly are willing to offer wholesale loans to dealers, Harris Bank, of Chicago, is expanding the number of states in which it offers such loans.
Harris Bank, a leading retail automotive lender in the United States, is a unit of BMO Financial Group, which has a long history of offering dealers commercial loans in Canada. BMO is Canada's fourth-largest bank by deposits.
Harris Dealership Finance began offering commercial loans to U.S. dealers in July. It has a staff of 10, including five relationship managers. It operates five offices in four states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The division intends to expand into three or four more states within two years.
"Demand from the dealers is strong," says Ghram Debes, 40, market manager of the new division. Debes came to Harris after nine years with the commercial lending business at Fifth Third Bank, of Cincinnati. "The appetite for this business is increasing as the industry continues to improve."
Harris will offer services such as floorplan financing, commercial mortgages and wealth management. The bank's retail lending arm offers loans through thousands of dealerships in 17 states and is among the top 30 retail auto lenders in the United States.