JULE KREYLING (EAST WEST BANK)
Building Businesses from the Ground Up
In 2014, East West Bank launched its Equipment Finance division and hired industry veteran Jule Kreyling to take the helm. Now, only five years later, East West has made it onto the Monitor 100 at a respectable 76. Monitor’s senior editor, Nadine Bonner, sat down with Jule and asked him, “how did they do it?”
Jule Kreyling might appear to be a lawyer who has transformed into an equipment finance executive, but he is really a builder. For the past 20 years, Kreyling has helped companies from Citigroup to TD Bank make successful moves into the equipment finance business by starting from scratch.
“I like to build things from the ground up,” says Kreyling. So, when East West approached him about setting up a new Equipment Finance program, he was on board from the start, with the blessing of his TD colleagues.
It was a good match, although it took a while for East West to understand that equipment finance was unlike other business verticals. Kreyling said at first the bank thought it could hire a relationship manager to come in and do equipment deals, but it learned that equipment finance is a business separate from the bank’s traditional businesses.
East West was established in 1973 as the first federally charted bank to serve the financial needs of Chinese Americans in the Los Angeles area. Today, East West has more than 130 locations in key cities in the U.S. and Greater China. East West Bancorp is a publicly owned company with total assets over $41.0 billion and is traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.
The bank also has its own way of doing business, which fit nicely with Kreyling’s own sales background.
“A lot of people start with a buy desk, and they build a portfolio quickly. After that, they build a dedicated sales force. We did the opposite. Although East West was okay with indirect sales, the bank liked having direct contact with the customer. That was what they were comfortable with, so we started that way.”
The approach has been successful, despite Kreyling’s admission that East West does not win deals because of low pricing. Instead, the team focuses on customer service, turning the deals around quickly and getting the funds in place.
Kreyling may seem like an unlikely sales executive. He began his career with a large Atlanta law firm and later moved to Textron Financials as in-house counsel. He wanted to move to a leadership position, but was told, to his surprise, if he wanted to become a leader at Textron, he needed to understand sales. Management pointed out that without actual sales experience, he would not understand it the way a leader of an organization driven by growth needed to understand sales.
After taking on that traditional sales role at Textron, he became the top sales person in the company before flipping to management. So, he was comfortable with East West’s direction. He started off by hiring Andy Gerot as operations manager, and they hammered out the credit function, policies and procedures. Within six months, they were open for business.
Now, the team is focusing on getting to the next level and looking to recruit younger bankers into the equipment finance sphere.
Meanwhile, they are delighted to have gained entry to the Monitor 100.
“I think everybody in the group is proud of all of the work we’ve done. They’ve worked hard to get here, and they deserve it,” he said. •