As the eleventh child of Washington and Sallie Webster Finley, Albert Earle Finley truly understood America was the land of opportunity from a young age. After attending business school in Maryland, working as a stenographer and serving a brief period of time in the Army, he joined the General Utilities Company as an office manager in 1926 and moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. He was so successful in the sale of heavy equipment that he and his business partners founded Raleigh Tractor & Truck Company in 1929. In 1931, he struck out on his own with the firm North Carolina Equipment Company. This business was the springboard for the organization of many others, including A.E. Finley and Associates, Superior Block Company and N.C. Products Corporation.
By 1951, his network of companies was spread out over five states, making Finley the largest equipment distributor in the United States. Successful businesses were only half of the picture for Finley. He gave generously to many organizations. He was a member of the Raleigh Lions Club, a supporter of his local YMCA, a benefactor to several colleges and schools, and devoted to better health through the support of hospitals. A strong believer in the free enterprise system, Finley founded Citizens for the Preservation of Constitutional Government to promote a small central government and economic freedom for all. Despite Finley's death in 1986, his philanthropic wishes, vision and dedication continue to live on in the A.E. Finley Foundation.