Bret Thomas, executive vice president of global operations, worldwide financial services division at John Deere & Company, and co-founder of industry body The Captives Forum, has passed away aged 57 after a three year battle with cancer.

Thomas began his career in commercial finance at Bankers Trust Corporation in 1982.

Living and conducting business in several international markets, Thomas helped companies globalize their work with channel partners, said John Deere & Company.

With nearly 30 years of distinguished experience in the financial services industry, he held numerous executive leadership positions, leading global organizations like AT&T Capital, Pitney Bowes Global Credit Services, CIT Group, and Xerox Financial Services.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Thomas studied at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and was a graduate of the Bankers Trust Company Business Management School in New York City.

Hewden group sales marketing director Patrick Jelly, IAA Advisory chairman Derek Soper, Volvo Financial Services EMEA president and Captives Forum chairman Nils Jaeger and the other members of the Captives Forum penned the following statement:

"It is with great sadness that we report the death of Bret Thomas, until recently executive vice president of leasing and asset finance at John Deere. Bret has been battling cancer for the last three years and had recently joined an experimental group testing new treatments in New York; sadly, he passed away on the 29th May.

"The most Westernised American we have ever met, Bret was a dedicated Anglophile and spent a great deal of time in Europe. He started his career with AT&T Capital and moved into the International arena as head of leasing at Pitney Bowes. Bret moved on to Xerox as head of leasing and asset finance and then to John Deere in 2014.

"Whilst at Xerox Bret joined forces with us to establish the Captives Forum as the European trade association for the captive finance companies of major equipment manufacturers. Bret’s dedication and openness for sharing information and common problem solving became the backbone of the Forum’s activities. Since then the Forum has gone from strength to strength, and now numbers most of the major equipment manufacturers throughout the world.

"Bret was one of the industry ‘greats’; a fantastic manager, he had complete knowledge of how the industry works. He had a dedicated work ethic, always having time for individual issues and problems, and not least of all, one of the best friends it is possible to have.

"We wish his family and friends well in these sad times and at the same time give thanks for knowing Bret and the privilege of calling him a friend."

The team at Leasing Life would like to offer Bret’s family and friends their sincere condolences.