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Health collections agency outgrowing term ‘small’

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at 10:21 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, April 18, 2013, at 12:08 p.m.

Account Recovery Specialists Inc.

Division: Tier 2

Founded: 1992

Owners: Kecia Kesler and Arianne Garcia

Locations: 3505 N. Topeka in Wichita, and in Dodge City and Garden City

Phone: 316-267-5400

Website: www.arsico.com

This will be the third and probably last time that Account Recovery Specialists Inc. will be competing in the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Awards.

That’s because its growth in employees will likely preclude it from the contest, said ARSI founder and CEO Kecia Kesler.

“This is the last year we can do it … because we’re at 100 employees now,” Kesler said.

The company is a collections agency that focuses primarily on health care collections. It’s a complex type of collections business because one case can involve a variety of private and government health insurers, worker’s compensation, auto or premises liability.

“Sometimes it’s not the patient’s responsibility … so we act as a patient advocate to help them find that source of payment,” Kesler said.

It’s a type of collections that sometimes involves a gentler touch than that typically associated with such a business.

“With the base (of business) being a high percentage of health care, it requires more compassion and advocacy,” Kesler said.

Kesler and her chief operating officer, Arianne Garcia – who is also Kesler’s younger sister and a co-owner of the company – said the company is reaching the point where it’s almost saturated the state’s health care collections market. “We work for over 55 percent of the KHA (Kansas Hospital Association) member hospitals,” Kesler said.

And while the company does collections for a variety of other entities – retailers, utilities, banks and cities and counties – it plans to expand even more outside of health care, Kesler and Garcia said.

Growth is such at the company that Kesler is already making plans to add another building at her company’s headquarters at 3505 N. Topeka.

“We plan to do that within the next year,” she said.

Since ARSI’s founding in 1992, it has grown from one office in Dodge City – where it was started as an extension of their father’s law firm’s collections work – to a total of three. A Garden City office was started in 1997, followed by the Wichita office – its largest – in 2005.

Between its founding and today, ARSI’s gross collections have increased from $30,000 a month to more than $2 million a month, Kesler said.

Kesler and Garcia said the company could grow at a faster pace if it decided to get in the business of purchasing debt, instead of serving as a collector for accounts owned by their clients. But that comes with a “financial risk,” Garcia said.

Collecting on another party’s behalf allows ARSI to control its growth.

“We like controlled growth because we can preserve quality,” Kesler said.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com.

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