Next-Stage Development Group
Managing Partner and Co-Founder
Joseph (Joe) Kessler is a native Washingtonian. He is the cofounder of two existing finance companies, Bethesda Funding LLC (buys receivables from national banks) and Bluescale Capital LLC (factoring and asset-based lending). He on the boards of directors of Gold Lasso (software) and Global Edge Group (oil and gas industry staffing) and has advisory board roles at Cliqued (marketing), Personal Web Assistant Corporation (IT), and Blake Bradford (marketing & fashion). As part of the Next-Stage Development Group, Kessler spent three years as Corporate Director on the board of MHR Technologies, a Gaithersburg, MD start-up specializing in the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) for school pick-up synchronization. In 2007, Kessler took on a two year strategic planning and business development role at Partners International, a software and network services firm in DC which specializes in support for international development and relief organizations.
As Managing Partner for Next-Stage, Joe served as a mentor and/or panelist for the University of Maryland's Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, the MIT Enterprise Forum, and ASM Resources. Kessler was a judge for business plans submitted to the American Security Challenge.
After earning a B.S., Accounting degree at the University of Maryland, Kessler began a career in vehicle leasing. As President and owner of Executive Auto Leasing, he grew the company through the creation of a strong internal sales force and then through a series of acquisitions. Executive's forte was value-added business financing, leasing and managing nationwide fleets of automobiles and small-to-medium sized trucks to companies of all sizes. About a quarter of its marketing efforts and sales were to non-profits, national associations and government. The company's success in selling service over price led to an uncommonly high customer retention rate.
In 1998, this business merged with Crestar Bank and later with SunTrust Bank (this merger creating one of the country's ten largest banks.) Kessler continued with each bank as a Senior Vice President and as division CEO, directing SunTrust Vehicle Leasing, Inc. At SunTrust Bank, he was also Product Manager in charge of balloon (residual-based) lending. Kessler knows bank borrowing and lending practices from both sides of the table. Kessler served two terms on the board of the National Vehicle Leasing Association and is the founding Chairman of its Capital Chapter. He represented the industry in working with the Federal Reserve Board on the Consumer Leasing Act. He is also a founding member of the International Lessors Group.
After 24 years in leasing and finance, Kessler left SunTrust and co-founded the Next-Stage Development Group in 2001.
Community Activities: Kessler is board member and immediate Past President and Chairman of Premier Homecare, Inc.. He is also chairman of the MCPS Information Technology Collaboration Board and immediate Past President and founding member on the board of the Montgomery County Students' Information Technology Foundation (ITF). The ITF is a 501(c)3 that partners IT industry representatives with the school system to run IT career training courses in Montgomery County High Schools. As part of his passion for music, Joe is tour manager for the Otis Taylor Band.