August 11, 1987, Florida rent-to-own dealers were asked to attend a meeting
about forming a state association. Twenty-six dealers attended, representing
approximately 150 stores. An executive committee was elected and legal
representation was hired to draft state RTO legislation.
++Some of the original FRDA members included Norman Slatton Sr. of Bi-Rite
Co. Inc., Harold Hutchins of American Rent to Own, attorney Sam Choate,
William F. Donahue of RentWay, Dan Gaffney of Companion TV Rental and
Paul Upchurch and Margo Tillotson of Champion TV.
the time, a Florida rental dealer was faced with a lawsuit that sought
to put the entire industry in the state out of business. Needless to
say, that didn’t happen. The industry quickly banded together and
passed favorable RTO legislation by September 1988.
TV “championed” the initial leadership roll with
Margo Tillotson at the helm. She saw FRDA’s efforts rewarded when
it was crowned APRO’s State Association of the Year in 1993. Shortly
after that, merger mania took off in RTO and Champion TV was no more
and FRDA became inactive for several years. During this time, legislation
was introduced and passed exempting RTO dealers from being able to file
criminal charges against those who stole our property.
the summer of 1998, Bi-Rite Co., dba Buddy’s Home Furnishings,
accepted the task of re-organizing rental dealers in Florida and a meeting
was held. Terry Beville was elected president and Kim Slatton secretary
++In 1999, FRDA was notified of unfavorable pawn shop legislation and,
wanting to change the unfavorable exclusion of rental dealers in criminal
prosecution, association members traveled to the state capitol to meet
with legislators and senators and hired a lobbyist. An active board of
directors was in place: Jan Arnett, Michael Bennett, Kirk Kaye, Mike
Rutledge, Ed Stanko, Larry Sutton and Ron Thomas. In early 2000, FRDA
became the first state RTO association to hold a state legislative conference.
Two sponsors were secured and in 2001, the association successfully passed
into law revised wording to the statute eliminating rental dealers in
Florida from being excluded from filing criminal charges.
Buddy’s Home Furnishings in Tampa won a major victory
for all RTO dealers in Florida with an out-of-court settlement with Cash
America Pawn in four lawsuits. Basically, the settlement consisted of
the pawnshops agreeing to return any pawned merchandise upon presentation
of proof of ownership at no cost to the appropriate rental store.
recent FRDA achievements include publication of the FloRiDA
the unveiling of this Web site. FRDA’s goals for the near future
include pursuing the creation of a statewide rental dealer stolen property
database and honoring one of Florida’s
truly great RTO heroes at its 2003 annual meeting by hosting the first
annual Norman “Slats” Slatton Sr. Golf Tournament and an
evening of old friends and memories during a “Post Roast” emceed
by the one and only “Reverend of RTO” Larry Sutton.