12th Annual Legislative Conference

FRDA-Legislative-Conference 2014

Members of the Florida Rental Dealers Association traveled to Tallahassee for their annual Legislative Conference April 22-23, 2014. The group had a very busy schedule filled with briefings by the VP of Governmental Relations for The Florida Retail Federation (speaking on business legislative issues), the VP of Political Strategy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce (speaking on pro-business issues and offering insight into the upcoming Governor’s election) and the General Counsel for the Associated Industries of Florida (speaking on Workers Comp and Legal issues), followed by appointments with legislators. In addition to the business briefings, meetings with state representatives, and watching both the house and senate in session - the group was also able to spend some time with Attorney General Pam Bondi. First time attendee Jose Hernandez said the trip provided a lot of insight into the legislative process and he hopes to be back next year for more. “It was a great trip,” says FRDA President Sharon Tomaszewski. “We have been fortunate to come up here the past few years with no issues to battle and that has allowed us to meet with representatives under very friendly terms, educate them about our business and industry, and build relationships. We continue to see the importance of laying this foundation in Tallahassee and following up with our representatives back home.” Tomaszewski would like to thank all of the attendees for being part of this year’s legislative conference, especially those who were making their first trip to Tallahassee with FRDA.

Shown in picture: Chris Kale, Sr., Paul Metivier, Paul Schaller, Attorney General Pam Bondi, FRDA President Sharon Tomaszewski, Jim Tomaszewski, Jose Hernandez, Joana Hernandez, Mike Gavidia, Chris Kale and Jimmy Kalamaras. Also pictured, Bondi’s sweet St. Bernard – Luke.

11th Annual Legislative Conference

The Florida Rental Dealers Association held its 11th Annual Legislative Conference March 23-24 in Tallahassee, FL.  Facing no major legislative issues or concerns for this year's visit, the attendees were able to meet with over 20 members of the house and senate, watch a senate debate, and hear presentations by Randy Miller, Vice President of The Florida Retail Federation, and Tami Perdue, General Counsel of Associated Industries of Florida.  Both presentations were very informative regarding the top business issues being debated in our state capitol, and highlighted for FRDA what to look for in upcoming elections.  Both Mr. Miller and Ms. Perdue also took time to explain how our votes could directly impact our businesses.

First time attendee Charlie Buff of Buddy's Home Furnishings said that his first legislative conference gave him a great deal of insight as to how issues progress from the local level to the state level.  "After being here in Tallahassee, I can see first-hand how important this effort is to meet with our representatives and reach out to them.  We definitely want them to know who we are when it is our turn to need them."  

Four-time attendee Jim Tomaszewski, also of Buddy's Home Furnishings, was glad to enjoy this year's conference from a different perspective this year. "Last time I was here we were fighting for a bill to be passed.  This year we were able to go into meetings without an agenda and just talk to our representatives - to see how we could help them.  Both reasons for being here are equally important.  You have to make your presence known one way or another."

Other attendees included FRDA Executive Director Sharon Tomaszewski of Rent King, FRDA President Chris Kale of Rent King, FRDA Board Members Paul Metivier of Rent-A-Center and Jan Arnett of Z-Best Rentals, and FRDA Member Karen Bunch of RentDirect Nationwide.

'We are so appreciative of everyone who joined us in Tallahassee this year,' says Sharon Tomaszewski.  'It's hard to break away from our business two days during the week, but making time to meet face to face with our elected officials is a top priority for us because we realize the impact that these meetings have.  You cannot underestimate the importance of making friends with your legislative representatives.'

Once session ends in Tallahasse this spring, FRDA will schedule follow up meetings with representatives in their home districts as well as schedule some fundraising events around the state. 

For more information on FRDA or how to become a member, you can visit their website at www.frda-rto.com or contact Sharon Tomaszewski at 813-241-0607 x11.

Beville presented with TRIB Top Honor 

March 24, 2009

Long-time TRIB board member Terry Beville of Buddy's Home Furnishings was honored Tuesday night with the Norman W. "Slats" Slatton Sr. President's Award -- TRIB Group's most prestigious honor.

TRIB Executive Director Dennis Shields, "Slats" Award Winner Terry Beville and TRIB President Ernie Lewallen.
The award -- presented and awarded to a TRIB member who has made significant contributions to TRIB Group and the rental industry -- was announced at the TRIB 2009 Awards Banquet concluding the group's annual convention and buying show in Dallas.

"You can talk numbers or talk about a lot of things but when you look at the friendships here, how we learn from each other...to me, this is what this industry is about and what TRIB is about," Beville said. "I love all of you, I love TRIB and I love this industry."

Beville, who began with Buddy's as chief financial officer in the mid-70's -- a position he still holds today -- received a standing ovation from close to 200 dealers and vendors for his achievement. Beville this week stepped down from the TRIB Board of Directors after 12 years of service, most recently as treasurer.

Beville was chosen for the award by current TRIB Board President Ernie Lewallen. The award is named for the late Norman W. "Slats" Slatton, a longtime board member of both TRIB and APRO who played a significant role in the formative years of both organizations and the industry as a whole.
"Given the volume of his accomplishments and long standing dedication to TRIB it would be safe to say if "Slats" were alive and with us now he would think he got a pretty fair deal when he hired Terry," Lewallen said. "The man will be impossible to replace. Terry can turn a conversation in a moment when he speaks as we all listen. There is no man or woman who has ever made a bigger contribution to TRIB’s success, and he has a history of putting the best interest of TRIB and its members ahead of even his own company."

Grace Family Soup Kitchen calls
RNR home

March 26, 2009

If you’re ever riding down E. Fletcher Avenue in Tampa, Florida, on a Monday or Tuesday evening, you can’t miss the crowd of people in front of

RNR Custom Wheels & Tires.

In fact, sometimes the number is so large, you might think that RNR was having an evening car show or maybe a late night sale, but that’s not the case.

Volunteers from the Grace Family Soup Kitchen feed the community from an RNR parking lot in Tampa, Florida.
The Grace Family Church Soup Kitchen has called the parking lot of RNR Custom Wheels & Tires home since September 2008.  Every Monday and Tuesday night, GFC makes a difference in the community by offering hot food and drinks to anyone in the community willing to stand in line, and they stay until everyone is feed.

With the economy upside down, GFC is beginning to see more and more struggling families at the Soup Kitchen.  GFC cherishes the opportunity to serve others and RNR is proud to be a part of it.
Grace Family Church has an average of 15-20 volunteers from the church each night, from local high school students to members of the church; many are on hand to volunteer.



Rent-to-own News - Florida dealers to team with state AG against cybercrime, meet 19 legislators

March 16, 2009

FRDA members meet with Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.

The Florida Rental Dealers Association (FRDA) marked it's 10th annual state legislative conference with a meeting with Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum March 11 in Tallahassee.

Florida dealers had an informal "sit-down" with McCollum to discuss the rent-to-own industry in Florida as well as some of the AG's initiatives including a future joint effort to help the publicize some of McCollum's anti-gang and cybercrime initiatives in FRDA's 500 plus rental-purchase stores throughout the state.

"He seemed genuinely excited to work with us," said FRDA President Chris Kale, "and we will be following up on this initiative in the weeks to come."

According to statistics from the Florida AG's Web site, more than 77 million children regularly use the Internet. The Federal Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force says Florida ranks fourth in the nation in volume of child pornography. Nationally, one in seven children between the ages of ten and 17 have been solicited online by a sexual predator.

To combat the growing threat of cybercrime against children in Florida, the Attorney General's Child Predator CyberCrime Unit was established in 2005. This unit works to expand programs to further safeguard children from predatory criminals and includes law enforcement investigators and prosecutors.

The investigators and the prosecutors in the unit are specially trained in current technologies, tactics, and the law and share their expertise through educational programs and community awareness efforts.

Following the meeting with McCollum, FRDA members attended a luncheon with the Florida Retail Federation and their top legislative lobbyists. The Florida Retail Federation -- similar to the Florida Chamber of Commerce -- represents thousands of small, medium, and large business owners throughout Florida and works to improve state laws that affect business owners.

FRDA members then met with 19 state legislators, around half with whom the association already had an established working relationship.

"We had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with these legislators to talk to them about the rental-purchase business in Florida," Kale said. "This was probably the most successful set of meetings we have ever had at a state legislative conference. FRDA Executive Director Sharon Tomaszewski did a fantastic job making all of the appointments for us and putting together our FRDA information packages."

The following morning, several FRDA board members met to discuss the new statewide skip database established with DataTrue and the upcoming APRO Legislative Conference in Washington D.C.