From Dallas, Texas, Steven Dietz originally began working as a credit analyst and collections manager for a furniture store; that was bought out by Aaron Rents. In the end, he found himself wanting to focus more specifically on the collections side of things.
In the specific role of collections, Steve was looking for a little more excitement in his job than he was currently getting. He began working on a collection of bad debts for the store, which garnered a lot of attention from the owners of his workplace at Aaron Rents.
At the time, Steven Dietz was only 20 years old, but he was given the chance to travel the country to their different locations and help to train the existing collections staff on what they needed to be doing as well.
Eventually, it led to Steven forming his own collection business as well, now known as Southwest Recovery Services.
Southwest Recovery Services is a professional collections agency service. They work with all kinds of businesses to help them collect the money they are owed for their customers. Southwest has several locations in Texas, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Houston. They also have an office in Oklahoma City as well as St. Louis.
What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?
The ability to take responsibility for failures makes me a successful leader. It is very easy to point the finger and to blame people. I think it’s human nature. It is easier to take the short road than the long road, but ultimately as a leader, if your people fail, it is ultimately on you because you failed them in some regard. You did not provide proper training. You did not provide them adequate tools. You did not adequately explain or adequately appropriate. You did not adequately pay. The buck stops with the owner of the company. If you have a failure, no matter if it was an employee, a client relationship, I am very much of the opinion that if something goes wrong, it’s my fault regardless of who did it or what the circumstances were. When there are problems or when there are process breakdowns and process failures, that’s on me. I learn from that and I take responsibility for it. I don’t shout and yell at the person that broke the wheel. I get the Super Glue out, take responsibility for it, put the wheel back together, pat the person on the back, acknowledge that I appreciate it, and put them back to work.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
I do not recommend getting involved in this industry because of the litigious environment. The rules and regulations favor the litigious debtors over the right of business owners to collect legitimate debts. Peoples’ values have changed. People do not take ownership of responsibility the way that they did in the past.
I tell this story all the time and it is probably one of the most important things I ever learned. I say what I do, and I do what I say. I learned that from my dad. I grew up on a 400-acre ranch. As a rancher, my father leased cattle grazing rights, hunting rights, and water rights. He used the land to provide for his family. I rode around in a beat-up old Ford pickup truck that was from the 1960s. The fenders were bent, and it had rust on it. You could still let a kid ride in the back of a pickup back in those days. I watched him shake hands with other ranchers and make deals with people by looking them squarely in the eye, shaking their hand, and that was the bond. Your word was your bond. That’s how I saw him handle things. I never saw him pull out a piece of paper and require anybody to sign their name in blue or black ink and have it notarized. We lived a good life in a ranching community and as a ranching family.
Through years of introspection and seeing society as a whole has evolved, there is not the same sense of responsibility. People don’t live by the Golden Rule anymore. The sense of obligation and what’s right and what’s wrong has changed. If I were going to give somebody any advice about getting into this industry, I stand by my first statement. I wouldn’t do it. It was not always this way, but it is now.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
My biggest accomplishment is my family. To see the fruits of your labor come to fruition as they get older. That’s it, without a doubt.
Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
Nobody has ever beat me in a chug-a-lug contest. I am a fast charger. I’m a vivacious person. If you’ve ever had a friend that was the life of the party, I’m that person. I’m that guy. I can take a laugh. I can make them cry. You either love me or you really hate me. I’m a very outgoing person. I make people laugh.
What trends in your industry excite you?
I mentioned earlier that as a society our culturing is changing and with that change comes more opportunity for people in my line of work because it is easier for the younger generations to walk away from obligations and the debts that they owe. I guess long-term longevity. The lack of responsibility for one’s actions leads people to think they don’t have to pay for things that they receive. You can be charged with shoplifting for taking anything out of a store, however, if you receive a good or service on credit or otherwise walk out without paying for it and then don’t pay, the people that try to collect on that debt become the criminals. There is going to be a lot more debt to collect in this industry because of the change in values of our society and our culture. But, of course, it does not excite me, but that is a trend that I see. As a human being, I find it to be very sad, but as a business owner, there will be a lot more opportunity moving forward with the change in peoples’ sense of responsibility or lack thereof.
Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?
I hope to have implemented all of the changes that are going to allow me to spend all my time on my boat in Cozumel, Mexico. I’m an avid outdoorsman. I love to fish. I’m also an avid diver. The fruits of my labor allowed me to buy a boat several years ago and I have it in operation in Cozumel, Mexico for fishing charters, sunset cruises, tours of all sorts, diving, snorkeling, things of that nature, and I hope in five years I get to spend a lot more time down there catching fish and sharing stories with my children and my wife and anybody that cares to listen to the tale of yarns that I’ll spin. I hope to have the last son that I have at home graduated and out of college and self-sufficient so I can move to Mexico and spend a lot more time on my boat.
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