About Bill Verhelle

Bill Verhelle

CEO & Founder

Office: 239.349.2332

E-mail: bill@HarvardPartnersLLC.com

Before founding Harvard Partners LLC in mid-2015, Bill served as the cofounder, co-owner and CEO of First American Commercial Bancorp, Inc. d/b/a First American Equipment Finance, since its launch in 1996.

While a student at the Cornell Law School in 1996, Bill Verhelle founded First American with his long-time friend and business partner, Guy Klingler. Bill sold the business to City National Bank in 2012, continuing to serve as CEO of the independently managed company until 2015.

First American, headquartered in Fairport, NY, with well over $1B in assets, finances capital equipment for many of the largest hospitals, colleges, universities, enterprise businesses and non-profit organizations in the United States.

During the nearly 20-years Verhelle served as CEO of First American, the business

  • First American was recognized 8 times by INC Magazine on the prestigious INC 500 listing as one of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S. (First American ranked as high as #3 on the 2001 Inc. 500 list).
  • First American was recognized 10 times between 2001 and 2011 on KPMG Rochester and the Rochester Business Alliance listed First American of the Top 100 privately held companies headquartered in Rochester, NY.
  • The Best Companies Group chose First American as the #1 best place to work in New York State (less than 250 employees) in 2012; and First American has been recognized as one of the top five Best Companies in New York State every year thereafter.
  • In April of 2015, First American was recognized as one of Fortune Magazine’s 20 Great Workplaces in Financial Services, As part of this Fortune Magazine recognition, First American was also profiled in Great Rated.
  • In April of 2015, First American was recognized as one of Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials.

Before founding First American, Bill was Vice President and Western Division Manager of the Tokai Bank of Japan’s middle-market leasing company (now De Lage Landen Financial Services in Wayne PA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Dutch, Rabobank).

Bill has a Bachelor of General Studies Degree (BA) from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the Anderson School at UCLA and a Doctor of Laws (JD) from Cornell Law School. Bill is a member of the New York Bar Association.

During 2008 Bill served as the Chairman of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) in Washington, D.C. Bill currently serves as the Chairman of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Foundation.


First American CEO, William Verhelle, was the 2008 Chairman of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA). The ELFA is the premier trade organization for the $1 trillion per year equipment finance sector. The organization has over 700 member companies, including the nation’s largest independent equipment leasing companies, captive equipment leasing companies, and commercial banks. First American Equipment Finance has been a member of the ELFA since 1996.

William Verhelle, CEO of First American, is an Entrepreneurship@Cornell Advisory Council Member. Entrepreneurship@Cornell works with all campus schools, colleges and organizations to help create and promote entrepreneurship, events, commercialization, and experiential learning opportunities.