Adam Woodard graduated from college in 2006, when the financial services industry was in a hiring boom. He attended a job fair, and soon found himself working at global investment firm Franklin Templeton. “I was the youngest person on the team,” he says. “I was thrown into the deep end.
That experience, Woodard says, pales in comparison to what took place three years later, when he was laid from another financial industry job during the 2009 recession. That’s when Woodard says he witnessed the “financial markets melt down right in front of my eyes.”
“I couldn’t get a job in finance to save my life in 2009,” he adds.
In both cases, having a job as a novice and being on his own with no job at all, Woodard went to his go-to skill for success: hard work, personal discipline and, above all else, find a way to figure it out. Woodard says his grandfather, one of his two mentors — the other is someone he’s never met, but emulates, in Elon Musk — taught him the value of working hard, honesty and integrity.
Woodard eventually found some financial services industry work, focusing on counterintuitive opportunities. One was with a family office that specialized in alternative investments, including helping the community of Christchurch, New Zealand, rebuild after earthquakes. Another job was with a distressed commercial debt fund.
Woodard continued the alternative track in 2016, when he co-founded SQN Latina, an equipment leasing joint venture focused on small and mid-size industrial businesses with assets in Mexico and South America. That job included doing on-the-ground due diligence in remote jungles of Colombia.
That experience led Woodard to launch Delta Financial Group in 2020, starting the firm with co-founder Dave Riggleman. The company has a similar niche focus on equipment financing as his previous venture, only this time across North America and with more support from broader investment entities. On the client side, Delta Financial has worked with Home Depot, Duke Energy and Volkswagen, among others. The equipment finance and leasing market, say Delta Financial officials, is a $1.4 trillion industry.
Notably, on the financing side, Delta Financial has obtained private equity backing from several prominent institutions. That includes Peak Rock Capital, which invested in year one, and, more recently, Oaktree Capital Management. The amount of each investments wasn’t publicly disclosed.
Woodard credits the company’s base of financial analysts, including several military veterans with a strong track record and network in both equipment finance and commercial lending, for Delta’s early wins. “Once you have a good thesis and enough good people behind you,” Woodard says, “things just start to snowball.”
— Mark Gordon
• City of Residence: St. Petersburg
• Birthplace: Newport Beach, California
• Years in the area: 25
• Marital Status/Children: Unmarried/No kids
• Alma Mater/Degree: The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. MBA from USF St. Petersburg
• What community group or organization are you most involved with? Association of Corporate Growth (ACG)
• Are you working from the company office, home office or hybrid? Company Office
• What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had? Or the weirdest task you’ve ever been assigned? Diligence site visit in the remote jungles of Colombia
• What’s your top tip for being productive? Personal discipline and hard work is always key.
• If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Playing gigs as a pianist
• What’s your favorite off-hours activity? Debating economics and politics
• What’s the most significant item on your life bucket list — and what’s keeping you from completing it? Travel to space; it’s only a matter of time before SpaceX opens it up!
• What’s your favorite podcast? The Tom Woods Show (economist/historian)
• At what percentage on your phone do you start to get Low Battery Anxiety? 15%
• What are the top three apps used on your smartphone? Signal, Twitter, Spotify
• What books are you reading now? The Politically Incorrect Guide to Economics, by Thonas J. DiLorenzo
• What’s your go-to music genre, band or act to be inspired? Math Rock (TTNG) and Djent (Vildhjarta)
• Who would play you in the movie of your life? Elon Musk
• Where is your happy place? Cruising around on my scooter
• Describe yourself in three words: Passionate, eccentric, playful
• Who is your mentor for your career and why? Elon Musk. He shows the world that “the way business has been done” is not acceptable; go with your gut on fixing things which are broken.
• What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? Elon Musk leads by example with a daily conjuring of superhuman energy and focus towards a vision. It is so refreshing to see him push back hard against misguided culture fads as a global corporate leader and build a business consensus without empty political rhetoric. It’s a competency hierarchy in the world, and is the only hierarchy people respect. Knowledge is power.