Business

Bill collector business grew by word of mouth

Account Recovery Specialists owners Arianne Garcia, left, and Kecia Kesler are sisters who took over the company from their parents.
Account Recovery Specialists owners Arianne Garcia, left, and Kecia Kesler are sisters who took over the company from their parents. The Wichita Eagle

Kecia Kesler, head of Account Recovery Specialists Inc., once thought she'd follow in her father's footsteps and become a lawyer.

Instead, she followed her father's footsteps down a different path.

Kesler is now president and CEO of the company her dad started in 1974 as a side business to his law practice in Dodge City.

She started when she was in college. At the time, it had two employees, including her sister, Arianne Garcia, who was 15. Back then, gross collections totaled $45,000 a month.

"He wound down his law practice, we incorporated (in 1992) and hired attorneys to do the legal collections," Kesler said.

Today, ARSI employs 74 people and collections have grown to more than $1.5 million a month.

The company's headquarters are in Wichita, although there are offices in Dodge City and Garden City.

In 2000, Kesler bought the business from her parents. Garcia, vice president and chief operating officer, bought into the business in 2005.

The company's niche is in collections for the medical field; many of its clients are hospitals and clinics.

The company grew by word of mouth and by attending health care trade shows, Kesler said. The goal is to diversify to include clients from a broader base of industries.

"We've not been out pounding the pavement to pick up other customers," Kesler said.

The biggest challenge is keeping up with the changes in the laws and regulations and making sure staff stays in compliance. That takes constant training, Kesler said.

She said the recession has had an effect on the company. It's increased the volume of delinquent accounts to be collected. But it's also made it more difficult to collect, she said.

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