DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — World Omni Financial Corp. recently marked its 25th anniversary with a dedication ceremony at the company's headquarters. Sharing this milestone with associates, World Omni's president, Brent Burns, discussed the evolution of auto financing.

"Within the last quarter century, automotive financing, like all fields in the industry, has been transformed," he said. "World Omni, which has grown to be one of the most respected auto-financing companies in the nation, was established 25 years ago to provide captive and retail financing and create effective solutions to related challenges facing our dealers. That core objective remains true to this day.

"With the major changes within today's market, which include the impact of term extensions, and, of course, the current price of a quality vehicle, leasing has become a fundamental product important to many consumers, and therefore, to us," he continued.

While the leasing sector has changed over time, Burns said it now composes 20 to 30 percent of World Omni's business.

"Nonprime and subprime financing have become more permanent components as well," he pointed out. "Add to all this the dramatic affect of innovative technology and the ability to now process credit checks and applications online, and the result is that business decisions are now made in mere minutes. That alone speaks volumes about just how much the automotive financing industry has evolved over the years."  

Burns was on hand at the silver anniversary celebration to welcome attendees. A commemorative plaque was presented to his company's associates, with a dedication ceremony offered by Pat Moran, the chairman of JM Family Enterprises — which owns World Omni — and Colin Brown, JM Family's president and chief executive officer.

The festivities included Deerfield Beach Mayor Albert Capellini, who assisted in the unveiling of the silver anniversary plaque, which was created by artist George Gadson.

"We are very proud to be celebrating World Omni's 25th anniversary," Burns said. "To have achieved this milestone is a testament to the commitment and dedication shown by all World Omni associates throughout the past 25 years." 

In 1981, led by Jim Moran, JM Family's management team founded World Omni. The management team lauds it as the first captive finance business for import vehicles in the United States. World Omni executives said their company was formed as a long-term alternative to local and regional banks. It originally served as the financial arm for Southeast Toyota Distributors.

Executives said the experience and knowledge gained from World Omni's captive status have allowed the company to develop into one of the leading third-party servicing companies in the industry. World Omni's third-party servicing business, CenterOne Financial Services, provides banks and other financial institutions with the opportunity to outsource some or all of the servicing of their titled assets.

In addition to CenterOne, World Omni has purchased and established several other companies within the financing industry during the past few years, including DataScan Technologies (a wholesale floor plan accounting and risk-management systems and services), DataScan Field Services (vehicle inspections and audits) and Monetrics (risk decision-making software and services).