Pub 61 2020-2021 Issue 3


Arden Hetland: Twenty Years in Partnership with TADA

This story appears in the
Dealer’s Choice Magazine Pub 61 2020-2021 Issue 3

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Tomy Hamon is one of the most significant volunteer leaders in the history of TADA. Longtime CEO of Gene Hamon Ford in Texas City and several other Gulf Coast dealerships, Tomy served in industry leadership positions for decades, culminating with a term as TADA Chairman of the Board in 1994-1995. Tomy and Sue Hamon did as much for the industry and their fellow dealers as anyone in TADA history.

One of the most important contributions that Tomy Hamon made to the association was his sharing with us about his dealerships’ full-service F&I provider, American Financial and Automotive Services and its founder, Arden Hetland. AFAS was an emerging company in the ’90s as a full-service finance and insurance provider for franchised dealers based south of Houston.

In 2001, when TADA needed to find a strategic partner providing F&I services to its members, the first call was to Arden Hetland. Tomy Hamon’s supreme confidence in AFAS paid off for Texas dealers as we now celebrate 20 years of partnership with Arden Hetland and American Financial.

Today, now based in The Woodlands, Texas, AFAS is much larger and even more supportive of dealers’ F&I needs. The partnership with Texas dealers mirrors the AFAS footprint in 40 states in the U.S. Arden’s daughter, Laura, became COO of the company several years ago and has been instrumental in the growth of the company and the improvement of services to dealers in every category, starting with their state-of-the-art corporate headquarters and training center where they have twice hosted the Texas Dealer Academy to train our young dealers.

Arden Hetland began his life in the small North Dakota town of Glenburn. Hard work on the farm from an early age with his three brothers prepared Arden with a constitution that prepared him for any challenge that life would offer. One of 28 in his high school graduating class, Arden excelled in the classroom and on the athletic field but most especially in the band hall. Inspired by a high school music teacher, Arden became so proficient in playing the saxophone that he traveled to Europe playing in international concerts by his sophomore year. Smitten with a high school classmate, Arden used his musical proficiency to get close to his future wife, Donna, by accompanying her piano playing on his saxophone. Today this musical duo spends much of their time with the families of their two daughters, Laura and Kristen, and their six grandchildren.

Following high school, Arden Hetland headed east to Fargo, North Dakota and famed North Dakota State University, where today he serves as an adviser to the business school. After college Arden began a business career that eventually led him to Texas and his own company, American Financial and Automotive Services. His processes and programs to serve the franchised dealer community have become renowned throughout the country, and his reputation for integrity and remarkable corporate culture is envied throughout the industry.

AFAS and Arden Hetland set the standard nationally for dealership F&I services, and here are what franchised dealer association CEO’s say about Arden and American Financial:

Robert J. (Bob) Glaser, President of North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association
“Arden and his team at American Financial have done an amazing job for the dealers in North Carolina for the past 25 years. The dealer support, follow-up and education provided by American Financial as part of their ‘regular service’ has greatly profited our dealers for the past 2½ decades.”

“When you talk about integrity, when you talk about honesty … you’re talking about Arden Hetland.”

“Arden is one of the finest gentlemen I know … not just in the auto industry … but anywhere. He’s a world-class leader, a skilled businessman and a good friend. He and his wife, Donna, make a super team.”

“Arden Hetland in one word … The Best!”

Matthew C. (Matt) Larsgaard, President of Automobile Dealers Association of North Dakota
“There are few truly remarkable people that I have had the privilege of working with. Arden Hetland is one of them. He is the epitome of professionalism, honor, and class. We in North Dakota are fortunate to call him one of our own. I am also personally blessed because he is a wonderful friend.”

Bruce Knudsen, Executive Vice President of Montana Automobile Dealers Association
“I have known Arden Hetland and American Financial for almost seven years. What they have done for the Montana Auto Dealers Association is incredible. We couldn’t ask for a better partner.”

Arden Hetland has created a company and culture that routinely is ranked best in the nation for F&I product training, compliance training, special finance training, sales training and service training. American Financial’s dealer partners receive the best in training, development services and product administration.

The bottom line is that AFAS makes Texas franchised dealers more successful. In the process, Arden Hetland and American Financial make the Texas Automobile Dealers Association more successful.

TADA’s ability to have the resources necessary to represent Texas dealers at the capitol, provide legal and regulatory services and have a sound financial framework comes from the association’s partnership with American Financial.

Over the past 20 years, this endorsed relationship has helped Texas dealers establish themselves as the nation’s premier automotive dealer body. Thank you, Arden Hetland, and your team at American Financial and Automotive Services, for assuring the future for Texas franchised dealers, their families, and their communities. 

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