Collector - March 2020 - 44

ORIGINSTORY

Career Range
Brian Watkins talks about his shift from firefighting to sales,
why he loves a good challenge and how he's preparing his company for the future.

"I've learned a lot
from industry trade
associations. ACA
International offers so
many opportunities
to develop, learn and
connect, and I love trying
new things and facing
new challenges."

I

t didn't take much to sell Brian
Watkins, president of Southern
Oregon Credit Service Inc., on
a career working in the accounts
receivable management industry. It just
took him some time to find his way to
the right job. Here's how he got his start
in the industry, in his own words.
"I was born in Los Angeles and my family
moved to Oregon when I was nine. I
grew up fishing and hunting and I played
football, basketball and baseball. In my
junior year of high school, I found a job
at the ranger district working in the
maintenance department, where I learned
painting, roofing, electrical skills and
plumbing. I was only 16, but I supervised
crews of people who were older than me.
It's just always been natural for me to be the
boss and in charge.
I worked at that job for two years in high
school. I went to college for one year, and
then got hired as a temporary employee in

44

the ranger district and worked there another
four years. In addition to my regular job
in maintenance, I worked as a wildland
firefighter after I turned 18. 
I really loved what I did in the Forest
Service, but because it was a temporary job
I could only work about nine months out of
the year. I was married and we had a son. I
felt I needed to find a career that would be
more substantial, so I enrolled in night classes
at the local community college. I chose to
study business and took computer, sales and
accounting classes. It literally changed my life. 
By week three, my classmates were telling
me I had a knack for sales and should really
consider it for a career. After an impromptu
role-playing exercise where I sold our
instructor the pair of boots I was wearing, I
felt like sales could have some possibilities
for me.
When the term was over, I found a job
selling insurance door-to-door. I didn't care
for that job, but I liked sales and decided
to look for something different. I had two
interviews with Southern Oregon Credit
Service, and I started the day after my second
interview. After about a week I was out selling

to clients. I must have been good at it; they
kept giving me bonuses and raises, so I stayed.
But it wasn't just the perks that made me
stay in the industry. I loved the challenges,
which helped me learn and grow.
Eventually, I was promoted to vice
president. Years later, one of the owners
became ill and they said I was their first
choice to buy them out. So, after 11 years
of working at the company, I became the
owner. I have been in the accounts receivable
management industry for almost 30 years
now and the last 19 have been as owner of
Southern Oregon Credit Service.
I've learned a lot from industry trade
associations. ACA International offers so
many opportunities to develop, learn and
connect, and I love trying new things and
facing new challenges. I also have a really
difficult time saying no to anything that
sounds remotely interesting or new.
I'm involved with the Oregon Collectors
Association and I am a Certified Instructor
and Trainer Specialist at my company thanks
to ACA.
I would like to stay involved and active
in the industry for five to seven years-or
more-and I want to be sure the company
continues in better shape when I leave it.
My oldest son Justin is currently our vice
president of information technology. We've
been putting pieces in place for him to step
in when the time comes. I'm very aware of
making sure the next generation of leaders
and staff are prepared for the continued
development of the business.
I'll also never forget where I started. My
maintenance work in the Forest Service
still comes in handy today. If a light fixture
needs replacing here, I'm the guy. Those
skills have always been helpful. The big
lesson from my early career was building a
strong work ethic.
Reported by Katy Zillmer.

ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG


http://www.ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG

Collector - March 2020

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