Meade and Associates, an accounts receivable management service located in Lewis Center, prides itself on an approach that prioritizes both the clients they serve and the customers in which they are seeking to resolve debt with. Written in the company’s mission statement, Meade and Associates strives to “maximize our clients’ recovery, while handling their accounts in a manner designed to protect their image and reputation, while also protecting the integrity of their customers.”
Perhaps the ultimate testament to its ability to represent and interact with both sides, with respect and class, is the fact Meade and Associates recently celebrated its 40th year in business. Few other superlatives speak directly to a company’s quality of service more than longevity, which is why the Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce recently issued a proclamation to the company during a celebration of 40 years in service to recognize them as a “leader in their industry.”
“It was huge. It was a very nice surprise,” President Brian Meade said of the honor from the chamber of commerce.
Meade and Associates was founded by Russ Meade in 1978 in an office in Worthington. With just one employee — a secretary — Russ handled both the collection and sales calls initially. Brian joined his father as a collector and the third employee of the business when he got out of school, as did Russ’ other son, Vice President Rod Meade.
In 1988, 10 years after opening the business, Russ had his own building built that still serves as the location where his sons have continued operations today. Russ passed away in 2002, having never stopped working despite his health doing its best to slow him down over the final two years.
Rod called his father’s work ethic “impeccable,” saying he was in there every day, including Saturday and Sunday, all the way to the end. He said both he and his brother were given a great opportunity by their father, and they were sure to take full advantage.
Today, Meade and Associates employs 31 people. Their client base has grown to consist mainly of universities and health care providers, among others. Both brothers are well aware of the negative stigma surrounding collection agencies, but they hope people understand the need for their services and the need for creditors to receive money that is rightfully owed to them, but also going about that process the right way.
“We’re part of the economic stimulus package,” Rod said. “We’re just trying to return the dollars that are rightfully due to the original credit grantor.”
He added, “Everybody has debt, from the pope to the president. So, we work with people to try and get it resolved. We treat (debtors) with respect and treat them like a person. Hopefully, they’ll realize we’re trying to work with them and they won’t be upset with us.”
According to a study by the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals (ACA), $67.6 billion was returned to creditors in the United States in 2016 by way of the third-party debt collection industry, highlighting the need for the services companies such as Meade and Associates provide.
But lasting for four decades takes more than just a market need. Asked how their company has stayed viable for 40 years, Brian’s answer was as humble as the company’s roots.
“A lot of it is luck,” Brian said with a laugh. “But I like to think we’re very good at what we do, and that our collection techniques are not harassment or beating them up … it’s, ‘hey, we understand you have a situation here, we’ll work with you.’ I think how we deal with people is how our reputation has grown. There have been a lot of companies that have come and gone due to mismanagement and what not, but I think we’ve been fortunate just by treating people with respect.”
Truly a family business, the third generation of the Meade family is waiting in the wings in Brian’s son, Sean. Along with Tony Martini, who has been with the company for around 15 years now, Sean will be tasked with carrying on the legacy his grandfather started and his father and uncle have continued.
Sean will be up to the task when the time comes, however, saying, “I plan on continuing it as long as possible and treating the clientele and debtors with the best respect and dignity we can, in order to uphold not only our business’ name, but our family name.”
Rod doesn’t expect the business to slow down anytime soon, saying, “Putting the right people in place to keep it going for another 40 years, that’s our plan. We have no desire or goal to sell (the company), just to keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully get better. Our goal is never to be the biggest, just to be the best.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @ddavis_gazette.