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Credit Q&A - Dan Pike

Director Motor Credit Services – ABC-Amega, Inc.

What is your background?

I was born in New Jersey, and on my three month birthday I mentioned to my folks we needed to leave the Garden State and move to North Carolina. We moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1967 and I could not think of a better place to grow up. We moved around some, so I went from living in the capital city to living in the country, which enabled me to have the ability to go from refined to redneck and back with no issues at all.

I graduated with a degree in Economics from Elon College (now Elon University) which solidified my love of numbers and knowing how the economy and business works. I parlayed my education into a job with a company that sold insurance and business planning to the owners of privately held businesses. While I found success in working with business owners, I didn’t enjoy the insurance side so I decided to make a change in my career. In 1992, I went to work for a trade association in the motor vehicle industry in their financial services division. I started out as a credit analyst cold calling businesses to find out about their financial position and relationships with their vendors. From the information gained, I wrote credit reports for the benefit of our members, who were the manufacturers of automotive parts and accessories. After a few years of making thousands of calls and writing as many credit reports, I was elevated to Manager of the division. In that capacity, I trained other analysts on how to analyze financial statements, write reports, and be accountable for the information they published. I soon started to make presentations to our members’ credit departments on the art of financial statement analysis and documentation as well as warning signs for when a customer develops operational and/or financial issues.

Ultimately, I became General Manger of the division and started working very closely with credit managers, who would call to get advice on customer situations on a daily basis. I also took over the administration and facilitation of five credit discussion groups in various segments of the motor vehicle industry. My division became very active in workout situations, where if a customer was having significant issues, I was brought in to facilitate discussions between the customer, vendors and their bank. There were several times when our work kept a company from filing bankruptcy; and not only the key vendors, but all vendors, banks and the company stayed whole and were successful. Unfortunately, though, there were times when the customer had to file bankruptcy. When that happened, I worked closely with the General Unsecured Creditors Committee as an advisor. This led to the development of my serving as a Distribution Agent for bankrupt estates and eventually to serving both as a creditor trust trustee and a liquidating trustee in two separate bankruptcy cases.

After 28 years with the trade association, I came to work for ABC-Amega in September 2020 and am currently administering and facilitating three credit discussion groups and actively working to obtain casework as a Distribution Agent and/or Trustee. I see myself with ABC-Amega for the long haul and plan to retire from this great organization at some point in the future.

How did you first enter the field of Credit & Collections?

As I have heard all my career, no one really studies or wants to get into credit and collections. It’s something that just happens, and then you find yourself making a career of it. I have never worked in a credit and/or collections department. What I have done is supply data and other information along with industry-specific knowledge to credit professionals, which enables them to make an educated credit decision. It is an honor to work with credit and collections professionals because they are always looking for new information on their customers and I am there to help them discover that information, be it from myself or through other credit managers within a credit group.

What is your job title and what are your responsibilities?

My title with ABC-Amega is Director of Motor Credit Services. I am not a big title guy as a title and a couple of bucks can buy you a soda. Customer Service is the focal point of my job. Supporting credit managers with information and knowledge they need to be effective and efficient in their job is my main priority.

As stated earlier, I administer and facilitate three credit discussion groups. The ABCD Motor Credit Group are suppliers to the original equipment, heavy duty and off-highway segments of the motor vehicle industry. The Aftermarket Suppliers Credit Group supply customers in the traditional motor vehicle aftermarket including retailers, wholesalers, mass merchandisers and e-tailers. Lastly, the Marine Accessory Manufacturers Credit Association members  sell to boat builders, wholesalers and retailers in the marine industry. I am also tasked with starting other credit groups as opportunities arise. In addition to the credit groups, I am working to generate an active practice in the bankruptcy space as a distribution agent and/or trustee.

Being a total team player, I am always willing to pitch in where the Credit Services department of ABC-Amega needs a hand. I enjoy additional tasks as they make me learn more about the company and how what we do greatly benefits our members.

Can you describe your typical day?

I work remotely from my home in Cary, North Carolina so I have a fairly easy commute to my office. As long as my dog Murphy isn’t in the way getting downstairs, I can be to work in about 25.3 seconds. I like to start my work day by 8:00 am and one of the first things I do after checking email is to review industry news sources to see if there is anything of interest that needs to be disseminated to group members. From there, I correspond with credit discussion group members to see how things are going and to encourage them to stay connected to the group and the many assets ABC-Amega provides them as part of their membership. I spend quite a bit of time calling and emailing prospective group members to encourage them to participate in one of the three credit groups in which I am responsible. My three groups have a total of 16 credit group meetings throughout the year, so I am either preparing for our next meeting by getting speakers, arranging hotel and meeting space, or I am working in the database organizing customers and data, which is the basis of our meetings.

I work very hard to respond quickly to members’ emails so I keep a close eye on my inbox. I enjoy the satisfaction of providing information, answering questions and counseling our members. My day normally doesn’t end at 5:00 pm, as I usually check email in the evening in case someone needs something. The role of credit manager really has no time clock and I need to be accessible to them whenever they need me.

What would you say are your greatest accomplishments in this industry?

I have several accomplishments that I am proud of in my career. First, is providing credit group members with key information on their customers, the industry in which they operate, and general business conditions and trends. Seeing the information either I provide to them or they receive from a credit group meeting protect their receivables, save their company money and/or aggravation with a customer is awesome and very rewarding.

Second, is working as a Liquidation Trustee in a specific bankruptcy where I challenged the validity of a security position with a secured party. Their secured position ended up not being perfected properly and their $3+ million secured position ended up being waived and we negotiated for a settlement of a general unsecured claim for $20,000. The $3+ million we did not have to pay out to the secured creditor went directly into the pool of money used to pay general unsecured creditors. So they went from a secured position where they would receive 100% of their claim to a general unsecured creditor for only $20,000 and received a 53% payout like all other general unsecured creditors.

Lastly, is that I have built some amazing relationships with credit and financial executives over the last 30 years. Relationships are key in the field of credit, but to establish the relationships, I have and to be considered a vital resource to our members. This is something of which I am very proud.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years, I see myself working for ABC-Amega and being an integral part of the Credit Services team. The leadership of ABC-Amega has built and maintains a work environment and culture that is very positive and rewarding and one that I want to be part of for the foreseeable future.

What advice would you give someone thinking of entering the field?

To succeed in the field of credit and collections you need to be a strong and confident person as you and your team are protecting one of your company’s biggest assets, accounts receivable. It is imperative you ask a lot of questions so you fully understand processes and protocols. Be open to develop professional relationships with the customer base you are working with. Even though it is important to be friendly to customers, you still have a job to manage the business and collect money, so you have to draw a line to ensure you can hold them accountable when and if things go awry. Most of all, don’t forget to have fun and take time to stay balanced. Don’t get so caught up in work that you lose your relationships with family and friends.