"Bouncing Back" --- A New Autobiography from Bill Bartmann, a Kinder and Gentler Debt Collector

May 21, 2014

On this edition of ST, we speak with a big-thinking, fast-talking, highly motivated, and fairly progressive entrepreneur who's made and lost several fortunes: Bill Bartmann is best known as the founder and CEO of Commercial Financial Services (or CFS), a debt-collection company that actually treated its debtors with respect and fairness. CFS was based in Tulsa, operated from 1986 to 1999, and was for a time amazingly successful as a business --- but the fast-growing company fell apart amid charges of illegal stock trades and bogus debt sales. Bartmann himself (who is, to this day, either loved or hated in T-Town) was confronted with more than 50 federal felony counts in the demise of CFS, although he was acquitted on all charges. This experience did, however, drive him into bankruptcy, and it kept him out of the debt-collection game for a decade. But when he finally returned, he did so in a big way: the consumer-advocate-minded capitalist Bartmann --- per his Wiki entry --- "re-established his former consumer financial recovery company, naming the successor entity CFS2, in July 2010. Later that year the company leased space at the CityPlex Towers complex in south Tulsa, returning Bartmann to the location where CFS had previously operated.... Counter-intuitively, CFS2 offers a unique array of free services to those they are collecting from, including employment assistance, credit specialists who negotiate reductions of other personal debt, resume writing, medical discounts, and help accessing government assistance." Indeed, in October of last year, Bartmann was featured on the CBS Evening News as a debt collector who thrives upon "the unique strategy of kindness." Bartmann joins us to discuss his autobiography, "Bouncing Back," which has just recently been published. He also talks about his ongoing efforts to bring about industry reform within the debt collecting business all across America --- including an interesting idea he's recently developed that would basically eradicate the entire debt-collection industry.