The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) announced that President and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE, will retire at the end of 2015. ELFA’s executive committee and board of directors have voted unanimously to name Chief Operating Officer Ralph Petta as its new president and CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2016.
Sutton has led ELFA, the trade association representing financial services companies and manufacturers in the $903 billion U.S. equipment finance sector, since 2010. He also serves as president of the association’s research affiliate, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation.
“We are so grateful for Woody’s outstanding leadership on behalf of our industry and our member companies over the past five years,” said Adam Warner, ELFA immediate past chairman, chairman of the Transition Committee and president of Key Equipment Finance. “His expert guidance of ELFA following the financial crisis helped the association emerge from the recession stronger than ever, and the association has grown in every area under his watch. Woody will be sorely missed when he retires, but he has laid a solid foundation for our organization’s future success. We are very fortunate to have Ralph Petta on board as the successor to Woody. Ralph’s industry knowledge and commitment to the continued success of our association will be invaluable assets moving forward.”
“It has been an honor to serve ELFA and the Foundation over the last five years,” said Sutton. “I have truly enjoyed working alongside the staff, the board of directors and member company volunteers in support of this great industry. However, after a long and rewarding career—including 30 years in the United States Navy defending our nation and 15 years in business working for our nation’s future prosperity—I feel the time is right for me to retire. ELFA is in a strong position and is poised for continued success, with an engaged membership, terrific volunteer leadership, skilled staff and sound fiscal standing. I believe 2015 will be our best year yet and when I turn the reins over to Ralph Petta at the end of this year, I know the association will continue to thrive.”
Before joining ELFA, Sutton served as assistant secretary of manufacturing and services, a unit of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. Prior to that he served for more than five years as president of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute. He is a former U.S. Navy Rear Admiral with 30 years of service as a surface warfare officer. Sutton holds an M.S. in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from M.I.T. and a B.S. in Naval Engineering from the United States Naval Academy.
Petta has been with ELFA since 1987. He was named chief operating officer in 2010 and previously served as vice president of Research & Industry Services. Before joining ELFA, he worked for nine years in the office of U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. Petta graduated from Syracuse University with a B.A. in political science.
“I am honored to have been chosen to lead ELFA and look forward to building on the strong foundation that has been built by my predecessors,” said Petta. “There is no other organization in the financial services space that delivers the level of service and the value proposition offered by ELFA to its members—through industry information, advocacy, business and professional development and industry promotion. I look forward to working with our volunteer leadership and exceptional staff in support of member companies and the equipment leasing and finance industry, which plays a critical role in our nation’s economy, equipping businesses nationwide for success.”