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Happy 40th Anniversary Jim!
United Credit Service Celebrates 70 Years!
Table of Contents

Happy 40th Anniversary Jim!

United Credit Service Celebrates 70 Years!

2020: A Lesson in Resilience

Resilience in our Communities: A Personal Reflection
You have been great to work with on this unfortunate issue. 
Thank you so much for your kindness.  Please apply this check to reference# XX-XXXXXXXXX.
      Thanks so much,
               a consumer

"I just had the privilege of speaking with Krys, one of your employees. And I would like to commend you for employing people of her caliber. She was extraordinarily helpful, very good at her listening skills. Outstanding!  She was very kind...And I am very thankful to be able to set up a payment arrangement. Thank you again for employing Krys."


Over the past week I have thought about how I have lasted, enjoyed, endured, benefited, etc. these past 40 years as an owner of United Credit Service, Inc. I know this is quite a milestone and few can say they have spent so long at the same employment / company. The good times certainly outweigh the bad and while not all the employees have been “favored” and lasted, I can honestly state that most have been wonderful people to work with. I can say that luck has had something to do with it, but that alone won’t buy you a brat and a beer at the county fair. It takes a lot of discipline and hard work to be successful in business and life. But is that enough? What really makes it all come together to achieve this? I would say, boiled down to one word: Honesty!

Being honest with myself, my employees, partners, family, clients, friends, consumers, etc. (basically everyone) is what allows the discipline, hard work and good luck to all mesh together to reach this milestone. My philosophy from day 1 (in 1980) has always been to treat others as I want them to treat me. Seems ludicrous being in the collection business! But maybe that is what it takes even in the face of being cussed at or hung up on. The world could be a better place…

My hope is that United Credit Service, Inc., now in business 70 years will go on to 80, 90 and maybe even 100! This would be amazing! With some luck I could still be around to see that! Most businesses do not make it to 70, very few can stay relevant and survive the ever changing economic and business climate. I feel fortunate that we have survived and continue to thrive in today’s world.

I am very thankful to my family, friends, business partners, employees (past and present) for all your efforts and support on my journey to this day. have always believed my success is dependent on your success. Together we achieve, and we also share in that success when we accomplish our goals. May your lives be enriched by mine and vice versa!

Blessings to you!


It is hard to believe 2020 is halfway over. The first couple of months were uneventful, but they were quickly followed by two very big sink-or-swim events. If this year has taught us anything—over and over—it’s the importance of resilience.

Sadly, not everyone or every business possess resilience. And oftentimes you don’t know whether or not you have it until after it’s needed—yikes!

Why do some companies and people succumb to pressure while others are able to bounce back? Viktor Frankl, Nazi concentration camp survivor and neuropsychiatrist, explained it this way: A traumatic experience is always negative, but what happens as a result of it depends on the person.

Although debatable, resilient people, as the theory goes, have three important characteristics: A acceptance of reality—and the ability to see it for what it is; a deep belief, often bolstered by strongly held values, that life is meaningful; and the uncanny ability to think on their feet and improvise. Being optimistic isn’t a bad thing to have either, unless it impedes your ability to see what’s really in front of you.

Rick Rescorla, director of security for Morgan Stanley, personified resilience on September 11, 2001 when the planes hit the World Trade Center Towers on 911. When a Port Authority announcement came over the PA system urging people to stay at their desks after the plane hit the first tower. Rescorla, who’d heard and seen the first tower burning (from his window in the second tower) ignored the announcement and grabbed a bull-horn, his cell phone and walkie-talkie, then systematically ordered the evacuation of the Morgan Stanley employees.

During the twenty minutes between the first and second plane crashes, Rescorla was able to see the first crash and recognize it for the attack it was, implement the evacuation plan he put in place after the terrorist attack 8 years earlier and then calmly directed thousands down a stairway. There were 2500 Morgan Stanley employees in the second tower yet only 6 perished during the attack. Unfortunately, Rescorla was one of them.

What lessons on resilience did we all learn from Rick Rescorla and Morgan Stanley at the end of the day?

  1. Preparedness counts!
  2. The importance of communication can never be overstated. You must communicate often in order for people to feel safe and connected.
  3. And a shared sense of purpose encourages increased levels of collaboration that allow you to make decisions at a quicker rate.

The traumatic events of the year don’t have to define us or our future. In fact, we can use them for the benefit of us all.


Usually our newsletter articles are written on business topics germane to the collections industry, and except for Rick’s letter, we don’t typically include bylines. But this time is different as the times we live in have become so very different and so very fast. I sense that for many it would be easy to be defeatist and simply throw in the towel, giving up on all of the challenges we face right now. Yet I wanted to share with you a brief story of hope and how our natural resilience as Americans can bring us out of this.

So you know, I live in the Minneapolis St. Paul area. In my work for UCS I cover Minnesota and a portion of Northwest Wisconsin. Except for a brief time, many years ago, I have lived here all my life. My great-grand parents and grandparents were immigrants in the early part of the last century. My parent’s families knew each other, and when my parents married they made south Minneapolis our home. I married a girl from Minneapolis, and my in-laws lived in Minneapolis as well. Most of our relatives and friends lived within a few miles of each other; many still do.

My roots here run deep. This is my home.

I have often been asked why I still live here. The city has such a reputation as being cold, snowy and bleak in the winter. That it surely can be at times. Yet when spring and summer come the cities blossom with beauty and vibrant activity.

The cities are built around lakes and parkways; lots of greenspace. Three rivers come together here: the Mississippi, the Minnesota and the St. Croix. I live within spitting distance of the Minnesota, not far from where it and the Mississippi meet near historic Fr. Snelling.

Ft. Snelling was an outpost on the frontier when Minnesota was still part of the Wisconsin territory. A key post in the expansion of the United States westward, it also was witness to the brutal murder and displacement of many Native Americans. Ft. Snelling also played a part in the infamous Dred Scott Supreme Court Decision of 1857. For those of you who don’t know, Dred Scott was a slave that traveled to Ft. Snelling in the company of his then owner, a doctor assigned to the fort. The case before the court asserted that because he resided in free territory he should be free of his bondage as well. The Supreme Court ruled that he was not only not free, but that black American slaves were not even U.S. Citizens, in free territory or not.

Roll ahead a year and Minnesota became a state in 1858 and a year later the embers that were to grow into the great conflagration we know as the Civil War were fanned in part because of that decision.

I include the last so that you don’t think I have a glossy eyed view of my hometown. We have our dark side and share of challenges. Living here in the Midwest, my sense is that on a national level it is easy to overlook the very deep and challenging issues we face in terms of poverty, crime, drugs and of course racism.

Like the rest of the United States we have weathered a great depression, two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, recessions, political scandal, and have largely come through it all better and growing. We are certainly nothing if not resilient.

And also, like the rest of the Country, when COVID hit, we took a torpedo economically. Unemployment surged, lock down ensued, life as we knew it ground to a halt. Like most other challenges, we knew we would make it through and by and large we pulled together to try to limit the spread of the virus. That is usually how things are done here. And we seemed to be winning.

Until May 25th, that is.

That is the day George Floyd was tragically and horrifically killed and the policemen who caused his death ultimately charged with murder.

That is the day it felt like our world turned bottom up.

Like I say, here in the Midwest, we typically are ‘fly over’ country. Only when tragedies like this happen do we get a blitz of attention.

I still find it hard to believe what happened in the following week. Riots and vandalism of unprecedented scope ensued. The Minneapolis Star Tribune now reports that more than 1,500 buildings were burnt, looted, or otherwise vandalized throughout the metro area. This includes the burning and abandonment of a police precinct about two blocks away from the dentist office I visited as a kid. National Guard troops marched down streets where I would shop with my parents. Some of our client businesses were impacted, too, and no doubt it will be a long time until there is a return to business as usual. To say the area looks like Beirut at its worse or parts of Syria today would not be a stretch.

Even more stunning was the national and international reaction to George Floyd’s death. I was dumbfounded by how fast the violence grew as well as the scope of the often-surreal events that were spawned by the protests. To see the protests grow in cities like New York, Washington and Los Angeles was one thing, but London, Paris and even in Australia was mind boggling. The power of social and other media to influence events around the world cannot be overstated.

That brings me back to the real subject of this reflection: resilience.

A day or so after all the rioting and looting had ended, the news media began to report on a number of people in the community who just spontaneously showed up to start the clean-up and provide help to the community in the form of food, water and supplies which suddenly had become unavailable because of the damaged businesses.

You see, while there were a number of ‘big box’ stores damaged and looted, and the loss of local jobs really harmful, the real hurt came to the local small businesses that were basically wiped out. The main thoroughfare, Lake Street, had become a place of renaissance in recent years. Yes, some really bad areas remained, but so many new shops, restaurants and places of business had opened up there was a real sense that this part of the city would once again recover its vibrancy; a vibrancy my family enjoyed and that it will hopefully recover.

On that day when I saw the outpouring of support my hope that the vibrancy and diversity of this area would prevail was rekindled. People of all races, faiths and backgrounds literally just showed up--brooms, mops, dust pans and garbage bags in hand--to begin cleaning up all the debris. Thousands of pounds of food and supplies were donated to community organizations and churches to help fill the needs of the community. In some cases there was so much donated that the agencies could not accept more. Talk about loaves and fishes!

At this writing the protests continue, here and around the world. Largely peaceful, they have been going now for nearly three weeks. I don’t see an end to that soon. While media attention has shifted from here to other parts of the country, there is a lot more to go to flush all of this anger and hatred out of our world.

In the midst of it all I have learned the lesson of the power of listening instead of talking. There is still much I need to hear. There is much being said that is hard to hear, but hear it we must if we are to change. We all need a world where “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is realized for everyone. Where fear is replaced by trust, and anger by respect and love.

At the core of it all, though, is resilience. The will to come back from tragedy and heartache and the deep, deep desire to heal and change.

We will come back. And we will be better. We are nothing if not resilient.

United Credit Service, Inc.
15 N. Lincoln Street, P.O. Box 740
Elkhorn, WI 53121