Industry visionary Paul S. Gass passed away on Feb. 16, 2021. Gass was instrumental in the founding of the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation and was a member of the ELFA Equipment Finance Hall of Fame.
Gass entered the equipment finance industry in 1966, working for national and international leasing corporations. In 1974, he founded Eaton Financial Corporation, an early pioneer in the small-ticket leasing business. In 1989, Eaton became AT&T’s first publicly held acquisition and Gass became President of the newly formed Leasing Services Division of AT&T Capital Corporation. The company developed over 300,000 small-business customers and $3 billion in assets.
Gass’ leasing industry achievements inspired him to give back. He identified a need to generate awareness of and resources for the equipment finance industry and supported the creation of a non-profit corporation dedicated exclusively to the educational, charitable, and scientific advancement of the industry. In 1989, following the sale of Eaton, Gass contributed $250,000 of his own earnings and $125,000 in stock to realize his vision of the Foundation for Leasing Education with ELFA and Babson College, his alma mater.
ELFA matched his gift and the Foundation was established at the association’s headquarters. Gass served as Fund Campaign Advisor and Board Director and continued to financially support the Foundation for many years.
Today, the Foundation that Gass envisioned continues to educate, fundraise and award grants for industry research. While the name of the organization evolved into the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, its core mission—to help industry professionals navigate the ever-changing opportunities and challenges of equipment finance—remains unchanged. The invaluable resources and programs developed as a direct result of Gass’ vision continue to propel the nearly $1 trillion equipment finance sector forward.
In 2019, when Gass was inducted into the Equipment Finance Hall of Fame, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association thanked Gass for his monumental impact on the equipment leasing and finance industry and for helping to connect industry professionals today with the leaders of tomorrow.