About Us

The InStar Group management team previously oversaw the creation of a leased railcar portfolio in excess of 40,000 railcars leased amongst 700+ corporate counterparties and arranged over $10 billion of railcar financings.

Grain car

Umesh Choksi
President and Chief Executive Officer

Umesh Choksi was most recently the Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of American Railcar Industries, a leading North American designer, manufacturer, and lessor of hopper and tank railcars. Mr. Choksi has over 37 years of experience in the railcar industry, with a majority of his experience in the railcar leasing market. Mr. Choksi was previously employed at ARL, a leading railcar leasing company with over 40,000 tank and covered hopper cars serving the petroleum, chemical, food, agriculture, fertilizer and plastic pellet markets. Mr. Choksi has served in various capacities at American Railcar Leasing (“ARL”) since 2004 including President and CEO, CFO and Treasurer. Prior to ARL, he served in various capacities at ACF Industries, LLC. Mr. Choksi received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and an M.B.A. in Productions Operation Management from the University of Missouri.


Tod McCrea
Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Tod McCrea is responsible for business development and sales & marketing for The InStar Group. Tod brings over 15 years of experience and perspective to the InStar team. Prior to InStar Tod lead the sales activities in the Midwest & Western markets for railcar manufacturer, repair, and leasing provider American Railcar Industries and its successor AITX. Mr. McCrea began his career with railcar lessor Mitsui Rail Capital working in fleet and portfolio management before moving to the commercial side of their business. Tod is a graduate of Iowa State University. He currently resides outside of Chicago with his wife and their 3 girls.

Grain car

Kristan Bahar

Prior to joining The Instar Group, Kristan Bahar worked as a Staff Accountant at the regional public accounting firm, Smolin Lupin & Co., for 3 years. Kristan has experience in bookkeeping, auditing, and tax. She has received both her Bachelor of Science and Master in Business Administration in Accounting from William Paterson University.


Stephanie LoBiondo
Senior Staff Accountant

Stephanie LoBiondo graduated from William Paterson University with her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in Accounting. She pursued her career during college resulting in over eight years of experience in accounts receivable. Prior to joining The Instar Group, Stephanie worked as a Staff Accountant at one of the largest outdoor media companies, OutFront Media. Ms. LoBiondo resides in New Jersey with her husband and their Labrador retriever, Roxy.


Eileen German
Contract Administrator

Eileen has extensive experience in domestic and international contracts management and negotiation. She has worked in the financial, healthcare and biopharmaceutical fields, as well as international governance, risk and compliance. Eileen studied Business Administration in the Instituto Cultural Dominico-Americano, and International Law at Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Ureña in the Dominican Republic. She is a Six Sigma Green Belt and has a Project Management Certification from Rutgers University.


David Maechling
Operations Consultant

David Maechling has worked in the railcar manufacturing and leasing industry for over 40 years. Before joining The InStar Group, he was Director of Fleet Operations for American Railcar Leasing (“ARL”) responsible for fleet management, maintenance, and repair of ARL’s 28,000 car rail fleet and $39 million maintenance budget. His oversight responsibilities included repair shop selection and relationships, fleet repair standards, fleet engineering, customer service and regulatory relationships and compliance. Mr. Maechling received a B.S in Business Management from Lindenwood University and has an A.S. in Mechanical Engineering from St. Louis Community College.


Joanna Marek
SVP, CFO & Treasurer - Treasury

Joanna Marek has worked for the regional public accounting firm Smolin, Lupin and Co. for the past 12 years, most recently as Director of Accounting and Audit at their New Jersey Headquarters. Mrs. Marek has partner level experience managing audit teams for a diverse range of clients in transportation, logistics, manufacturing and professional services industries. Mrs. Marek received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Montclair State University and is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of New Jersey.


Navin Andy Choksi
Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Navin Andy Choksi has worked in the finance industry in New York City for the past 8 years, most recently as a Vice President in Valley National Bank’s Commercial Lending Group. Prior to that, Mr. Choksi spent 5 years at Santander Bank in various roles of the Middle Market Risk Group. He also completed Santander Bank’s formal credit training program in 2008. In addition to his Commercial Banking background in Risk and Sales, Mr. Choksi served as Chief Marketing Officer for a startup snack company in the Northeast. Mr. Choksi received his B.S. in Political Science from DePaul University.


Christopher Franco
Portfolio Manager

Christopher Franco graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Master’s in Business Administration with a focus in Management from Fairleigh Dickinson University - Florham. Mr. Franco is in his fifth year with The InStar Group and oversees the management of the assets. Prior to joining The InStar Group, Mr. Franco interned at the Toys “R” Us Global Headquarters as part of the Financial Reporting team. During his time at Fairleigh Dickinson University, he was a four-year member of the baseball team, and was named captain of the team in 2018.


Tank Car IARX

Joseph DeFeo
Portfolio Specialist

Joseph DeFeo graduated with both his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Master of Business Administration with a focus in Finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University. During his time at FDU, he was also a four-year member of the baseball team. Prior to joining The Instar Group as a Portfolio Management intern, Mr. DeFeo worked as an intern for Talon Professional Services. Following his graduation, he took on the role as Junior Portfolio Specialist for The Instar Group..

Tank Car

Dmitriy Galkin

Graduated with Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Brooklyn College (CUNY) and Master’s in Business Administration with focus in Global Management from University of Phoenix (UOP). Prior to joining the Instar Group, LLC spent 12 years working in shipping industry, first as a Staff Accountant and most recently as a Senior Accountant at Guardian Navigations, with concentration in Accounting, Finance, and Operations.


Larry Culligan
Vice President of Operations

Larry has over 40 years’ experience in Engineering, Manufacturing and Operations.  Most recently he worked for AITX (formerly ARI/ACF) for railcar leasing, repair, and shop support. 

Previously he worked for McDonald Douglas, Union Tank Car, Thrall Car, TTX and Mervis Railcar in engineering, manufacturing, quality assurance, repair services and railcar leasing in various positions: Senior Engineer, QA Manager, Plant Manager, Chief Fleet Engineer, and Director of Operations. 

Originally from southern Ohio he has a BS in engineering from Ohio State, a MS in engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lindenwood University.

He currently resides in Northern California with his wife and near their daughter and her husband and new granddaughter – Elizabeth.