• March 10 – NASDAQ peaks at 5,048.62. The dot-com bubble begins to burst, leading to a recession and many companies looking to exit or offload portfolios

The First Five Years (2001-2006)

May 25, 2021 marks Orion First’s twentieth anniversary. It’s not lost on us that our first twenty years were bookended by catastrophes: the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic … not to mention a Great Recession. The sheer magnitude and human loss of these events is staggering. They’ve also made Orion the company it is today: resilient, nimble, and forward-thinking.

To commemorate this milestone, we present to you this four-part look back at our history.

  • After the dot-com bubble bursts, Dave Schaefer leaves Financial Pacific Leasing to form Orion, with investments from family and friends and a team comprised of FinPac connections and his son Mikey.
  • It opens its first office in Gig Harbor, Washington, rounds out its team, and takes on its first client, Union Safe Deposit Bank of Stockton, California, for whom Orion finds, underwrites, and services four equipment lease portfolios.
  • Orion also launches several new joint venture lease origination companies. As staff grows, Orion develops its first major tech product, the collection management software CMARS.


  • Dave Schaefer leaves Financial Pacific Leasing to form Orion First Financial, LLC
  • Orion incorporates on May 25 with investments from Schaefer’s family and friends. First client is Union Safe Deposit Bank of Stockton, California
  • Initial team formed from Schaefer’s FinPac connections and son Mikey
  • September 11 terrorist attacks in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania
  • Orion opens first professional office suite, in Gig Harbor, Washington. Long-tenured employees Zack Marsh and Lorren Dalesky join team
  • Orion finds, underwrites, negotiates, and begins servicing two equipment lease portfolios for Union Safe Deposit Bank, including one from GE Capital
  • Year ends with 1,170 contracts, $11 million under management


  • Orion’s creates joint venture funding program with its first formed on June 26 with Procure Financial Services, LLC, as opportunities from bursting of the dot-com bubble dry up
  • Orion acquires its second client
  • Long-tenured employees Jenny Wood and Barbie Schaefer join Orion team
  • Year ends with 1,124 contracts, $12 million under management


  • Long-tenured employee Shannon Green joins team
  • Orion hosts first client conference in July
  • Year ends with 2,373 contracts, $29 million under management


  • Orion’s proprietary collection management software, CMARS, is implemented
  • Our longest tenured client, Bank of the West acquires Union Safe Deposit Bank and chooses Orion as primary servicer after careful review
  • Long-tenured employee Britanee Dixon joins team
  • Year ends with 1,615 contracts, $23 million under management


  • Year ends with 1,505 contracts, $35 million under management


  • Long-tenured employees Terry Wood, Kaelyn Green, Wendy Oughton, & Grant Smith join team
  • Year ends with 2,168 contracts, $63 million under management

The Great Recession (2007-2011)

Following the bursting of the housing bubble, financial markets collapse, heralding the start of the Great Recession. Unemployment rises throughout the year to 10 percent.

Amid the vast economic contraction, Orion sees its own portfolio—and staff—shrink. Yet the leadership team still builds and prepares for future growth. By 2010, with unemployment virtually unchanged, Orion hires two new staff members, its first business development rep, and a new AVP of marketing.


  • Year ends with 3,506 contracts, $116 million under management, and 25 employees


  • Market decline heralds the beginning of the Great Recession
  • Dave elected to Equipment Lease & Finance Association (ELFA) Board of Directors
  • Year ends with 4,107 contracts, $106 million under management, and 26 employees


  • Unemployment rises to 10%
  • Client conference cancelled
  • Year ends with 3,400 contracts, $68 million under management, and 19 employees


  • With unemployment still around 10%, Orion increases staff to 21 and hires its first business development rep & its marketing director
  • Year ends with 3,000 contracts and $55 million under management


  • Orion returns to hosting an annual client conference
  • Year ends with 2,663 contracts, $48 million under management, and 21 employees

The Teenage Years (2012-2017)

Although the Great Recession will not formally end until 2013, by 2012 there are already signs of recovery and growth. Collection fees shrink due to low delinquencies, and Orion acquires its first loan client.

Soon Orion begins adding once more to its portfolio, and building infrastructure for growth. In 2015 it hosts the first Small Business Lending Forum in Tacoma, Washington. Orion expands its leadership team, moves to its new (current) office location, and launches its immensely popular Client Portal, launches its first client e-booking connectivity, acquires its first daily pay loan client and wins the ELFA technology award in 2017.


  • Orion secures first loan client
  • Year ends with 2,500 contracts and $66 million under management


  • Country emerges from Great Recession
  • Year ends with 3,100 contracts, $94 million under management, and 21 employees


  • Joe Collins joins senior team
  • Zack Marsh is elected inaugural chair of the ELFA Emerging Talent Advisory Council
  • Year ends with 5,500 contracts, $220 million under management, and 22 employees


  • Orion hosts inaugural Small Business Lending Forum (SBLF) in Tacoma, Washington (replacing the annual client conference)
  • Shannon Green passes away on December 25
  • Year ends with 7,000 contracts, $340 million under management, and 23 employees


  • Paul Marcoe, Tony Sedlacek and Quentin Cote join Orion senior executive team
  • Orion launches Client Portal, as well as first daily pay loan client
  • Year ends with 9,600 contracts, $509 million under management, and 31 employees


  • Orion moves to its current office in Gig Harbor, Washington
  • Orion wins ELFA technology award
  • SBLF annual venue moves to Denver, CO
  • Grant Smith retires
  • Year ends with 14,000 contracts, $639 million under management, and 35 employees

On a Mission (2017-2021)

In 2018, the same year that Dave Schaefer is elected chair of the ELFA, Orion surpasses $1 billion under management, establishing itself not just as a survivor but an industry winner. It opens its Phoenix office in 2019. The team’s reputation booms; Zack Marsh is elected to ELFF board (and later, secretary/treasurer) and Jenny Wood is elected secretary (and later, VP) of CLFP board.

Then in March 2020 the novel coronavirus outbreak is declared a pandemic, and Orion becomes a remote workplace. Orion performs over 8,000 contract modifications to help its clients and their obligors weather the storm.

By 2021, with vaccinations on the rise and an end to the pandemic in sight, Orion releases Delinquency Manager, the first product in its Insights Suite—supporting Orion’s mission to provide deeper insights, stronger portfolio results, and a highly satisfying borrower experience.

As we mark twenty years in business this May, Orion is proud to boast 50,000 contracts, $2.58 billion under management, and a team of sixty employees. And we’re still growing. All in support of the best clients in the industry.


  • Orion surpasses $1 billion under management by mid-year
  • Dave Schaefer elected chair of ELFA board of directors
  • Zack Marsh elected to board of directors of Equipment Lease & Finance Foundation (ELFF)
  • Year ends with 23,000 contracts, $1.225 billion under management, and 37 employees


  • Orion opens Phoenix, AZ office
  • Jenny Wood elected to board of directors of Certified Leasing & Finance Professional (CLFP)
  • Year ends with 27,000 contracts, $1.7 billion under management, and 43 employees


  • COVID-19 pandemic declared in March; Orion implements remote workplace & cancels SBLF
  • More than 8,000 contract modifications completed
  • Orion launches its Customer Portal
  • Orion launches its first Insights Suite product —Delinquency Manager
  • Jenny Wood elected CLFP Secretary
  • Zack Marsh elected Secretary/Treasurer of ELFF
  • Year ends with 32,000 contracts, $2.1 billion under management, and 60 employees


  • Orion reaches its twentieth anniversary with 50,000 contracts and $2.58 under management
  • Jenny Wood elected CLFP Vice President