The UCS Newsletter, providing accounts receivable management and debt collection insights, 

with the commitment to maintaining the important balance between  


      Results and Relationships.

                                                                                         Vol. 3 issue 2    

Table of Contents

It's Time to Celebrate

United Credit Service: A Retrospective back to 1950

Insight into Changes Within the Collections Industry
    You have been great to work with on this unfortunate issue. 
    Thank you so much for you kindness.
     Please apply this check to reference # XXXXXXXXX
   Thanks so much,
              a consumer


    Just want to let you know I appreciate you calling me today to remind me.  I usually think of it around the 15th each month when I try to pay.
     I also appreciate you working with me on this debt.  Call me with any questions, XXX-XXX-XXXX. 
     Thanks again,
           a consumer

Hi Shirley,

thank you for always treating me with respect when you would call.  I'm sure you're their #1 collection person.  Could you please send me the paid in full letter for both accounts. 
          a consumer

Thank you Kori, You are the best!

   a consumer

I want to thank Krys for being so polite and helpful.  She is an asset to your company.
               a consumer


When I was a kid, we bought our food at the corner grocery store.  It was owned and operated by a local family. It wasn’t a huge store, but they personally got to know the people in our community and catered to the needs of their shoppers. Many people, like my parents, wanted freshly cut meats, so their son became a butcher. Consequently, the roasts, chickens, and ground beef we bought from them were always fresh and often cut to order.  If my mom needed a specialty item they didn’t normally carry, all she had to do was ask and if they could, they would happily order it for her.  What made them popular—what kept my parents and others coming back week after week was the high quality products, and the individualized service they provided. 

Today, we live in a world of big-box stores where mom and pop establishments are becoming harder and harder to find—it takes a lot to compete with big-business.  There’s a lot of conflicting statistics out there, but conservatively speaking, only about 9 percent of small businesses survive longer than 10 years. 
Last week my wife and I stopped at one of the well-known, large coffee chain-stores.  My wife ordered a cup of hot tea with lemon. The tea they could accommodate, but the lemon was beyond their capabilities. She suggested lemon might be something they would want to carry since a lot of tea drinkers add lemon to their tea—kind of like not providing cream for coffee drinkers. Their response was that they would not be providing lemon—ever—because their corporate office didn’t allow it—they weren’t allowed to use knives.

When my wife and I sat down with our beverages, our mom and pop business minds went to work and we quickly came up with a solution—why not offer patrons those little packets of lemon juice? They are cost-efficient with their long shelf life and don’t require the use of cutlery—something, the coffee store employee told us, they weren’t “licensed” to use.

When I wrote it’s difficult for small businesses to survive long term, I should have clarified that it is actually hard for any business to survive long term.  I read an article, a couple of years ago, in Forbes that said the average lifespan of companies on the S&P 500 Index had decreased by more than 50 years in the past century.  Successful companies in the 1920’s existed for an average of 67 years, now they usually last only 15 years.

This year marks United Credit Service’s 65th year in business and we are very proud of this accomplishment.  Utilizing cutting-edge technology is a great, necessary tool we use to ensure compliance and provide our business partners with the most effective and efficient service possible, but that’s not enough, UCS has always believed in running an honest, ethical company that treats people with respect. This business philosophy coupled with a great team of caring, hard-working individuals has created personal relationships and individualized solutions for our clients that made this tremendous milestone possible.

We are extremely fortunate to have talented people at all levels of our organization.  Without them we wouldn’t be 65 years strong today.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you, we appreciate your business!

Best Regards,



United Credit Service, Inc.
15 N. Lincoln Street
Elkhorn, WI 

Thursday, July 9th, 2015
1:00 - 3:00 pm 



United Credit Service: A Retrospective back to 1950

1950 – United Credit Service, Inc. is established as a collection agency for local physicians by Hubert J. Kartes. It is located at 17 ½ W. Walworth Street in Elkhorn, WI.  Today, healthcare remains the principal industry that we serve.

  • Harry S. Truman is president of the United States (only 48 states)
  • Korean war begins
  • Average annual U.S. income is $3,210
  • Average cost of Wisconsin home is $7,927
  • One gallon of gasoline costs .18 ¢ and a postage stamp is .03¢
  • “Howdy Doody” and “The Lone Ranger” are popular TV shows

1965 – Current team member, Jean L. is hired at UCS.  She is the first non-family employee.

  • Lyndon B. Johnson is president of the United States
  • U.S. sends first troops to Vietnam
  • President Johnson signs the Social Security Act of 1965 into law, establishing Medicare and Medicaid
  • The Beatles perform the first stadium concert in the history of rock at Shea Stadium in New York.
  • The Oscar Award for best picture goes to “The Sound of Music”
  • “Bonanza” and “Gomer Pyle” are popular TV shows
1974 – Corinne Kartes sells United Credit Service, Inc. to Dan and Judy Weis and they sell it to Edward Cox.
  • Richard M. Nixon is president  of the United States
  • Watergate scandal: Nixon is first president to resign from office
  • Gerald Ford is president of the United States
  • Patty Hearst, granddaughter of media mogul William Randolph Hearst, is kidnapped by Symbionese Liberation Army (She was later convicted of joining the group in a bank heist)
  • The Oscar Award for best picture goes to “The Godfather: Part II”
  • “All in the Family” and “M*A*S*H” are popular TV shows
  • Cost of a Superbowl ad: $103,000.
1980 – Ed Cox’s twin sons, Tom and Jim, join United Credit Service, first Tom and 7 months later, Jim. UCS expands and moves down the street to a larger location at 5 W. Walworth Street.

  • Jimmy Carter is president of the United States
  • “Miracle on Ice” takes place during Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, NY.  U.S hockey team wins gold medal
  • The Cable News Network (CNN) is launched
  • TV viewers found out  “Who shot J.R?” on night time soap opera Dallas
  • John Lennon, is shot and killed in New York

1981 – United Credit Service, Inc. initiates the development and programming of an in-house, computerized, paperless collection system—the first of its kind in Wisconsin.  It is up and operational in September.

  • Ronald Reagan is president of U.S.
  • 52 American hostages held in Iran are released after 14 months of captivity
  • Lech Walesa is Time Magazine’s Man of the Year
  • Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice
  • Actress Natalie Wood dies, allegedly falling overboard during a sailing adventure with husband Robert Wagner
  • President Ronald Reagan is shot in the chest outside a Washington D.C. hotel by John Hinckley, Jr.
  • Cost of a Superbowl ad: $275,000.

1995 – United Credit Service, Inc. expands again and moves to current location 15 N. Lincoln Street.

  • Bill Clinton is president of the United States
  • Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh kills 168 people and injures over 600 when he detonates a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
  • Actor Christopher Reeve is paralyzed after being thrown from a horse during an equestrian competition
  • Yahoo is founded in Santa Clara, California
  • Toy Story, the first full length computer animated feature film, is released by Pixar Animation and Walt Disney Pictures
  • E.R., Seinfeld, and Friends, are most popular TV shows
1997 – After Ed Cox’s passing, son’s Tom and Jim take over business. Tom as president and Jim, vice-president.  Current Team member, Kim N., joins UCS.

  • Bill Clinton is still president of the United States
  • Titanic, the highest-grossing film of all time (until Avatar in 2009) premiers
  • Princess Diana is killed in a speeding motorcade crash in the Pont e l’Alma tunnel in Paris, France
  • WebMD is introduced
  • Cost of a Superbowl ad: $1,200.000
  • Beanie Babies are the must-have toy for Christmas
2012 – UCS President and Co-owner Tom Cox sells his half of UCS to Rick Brammer, Jim Cox retains his half and remains vice-president.

  • Barack Obama is president of the United States
  • Encyclopedia Britannica announces it will no longer publish printed versions of its encyclopedias
  • Mastercard and Visa announce a massive breach in security with over ten million compromised credit card numbers
  • Whitney Houston is found dead in her suite at the Los Angeles Beverly Hilton Hotel
  • Apple Inc. claims a value of $600 billion, making it the largest company by market capitalization in the world
  • Suberbowl ad: $3,500,000
  • X-Factor, Revenge, Bones, and NCIS are popular TV show
2015 – United Credit Service, Inc. celebrates anniversary—65 years strong!

Insight into Changes within the Collection Industry
by Jim Cox and two team members

As I write this I am beginning my 36th year in the debt collection business, which began July 1, 1980.  Fresh out of college with a degree in Business Administration, I was young and naive.  There was no computer, therefore no computer files or electronic record storage.  Everything was contained on printed paper and if you lost or misplaced the paper record you could not collect the debt until it was relocated.  In today’s world this is not an issue.  There was no predictive dialer, as a matter of fact the push button desk telephone was the most innovative telephone communication device of that time.  There was no “voice mail”.  Messages were left if a human answered the telephone, who had to find “pen and paper” to write down what message you wanted conveyed and to whom.  There was no caller ID until the person who answered said “hello”.  The basic collection “process” hasn’t changed all that much, but the way we go about the process has changed dramatically, due to the technology we have today.  I’ve seen a huge change in attitudes about debts and bankruptcy from then until now.  While there have always been people who do not pay their debts, back in my early years bankruptcy was not an accepted avenue to debt resolution.  Today, many people seek bankruptcy as a quick and easy way out of debt and it is an acceptable means to start over financially.  Many years ago bankruptcy meant living without the ability to obtain credit for many years, now it is just a short term set back to new credit.  Finally, the laws and regulations we face in doing our jobs have become a tremendous burden.  I believe consumers do have rights and we should follow the law in our collection activities, but there should be more emphasis given to creditor’s rights who have extended credit with the expectation of being paid promptly in return.  The creditor and debt collector are being looked down upon for demanding to be paid when they just want the consumer to meet his/her financial responsibilities.


Our longevity in the collections industry is a proud accomplishment that wouldn’t have been possible without our amazing, dedicated team members.  Longevity is not only a term we use to describe our time in business, but also one, I’m proud to say, we use when we talk about many of our team. 

The questions below were answered by two of our highly seasoned veterans, Jean L. and Kim N.

When did you first start at UCS?  

JEAN:  I started with UCS when I was a senior in high school in April of 1965.  The original owners were Hubert (Hub) and Corrine Kartes.  I was hired to do general office work (answering the phone, typing, filing, Dictaphone, etc.)

You've seen a lot of changes take place in the collections industry.  Talk a little bit about these changes.

JEAN: One change is the fact that there are very few family owned collection agencies now.  Unable to compete with the "big" corporations, many have had to close their doors.

​Of course, laws and regulations are continuously changing.

What's the biggest change you've seen here at UCS?

JEAN: I would say the biggest change would be United Credit Service becoming the first "paperless" system in the state.  

When I started, everything was entered manually--either typed or written. We used index cards to keep track of any activity on an account.  We used a 3-fold folder for a consumer's personal information and anything pertaining to the person's debt(s) was contained in that small folder.

What's been the most rewarding aspect of your career here at UCS?

JEAN: The most rewarding aspect would be to have been able to watch this company grow from a small two-room, three- person office to our size and location.

I have met and worked with so many people over the years including new owners, co-workers, attorneys and sales rep's. Some for only a short time--others for years.

I have met a lot of clients in person, others I have only had a "telephone relationship" with, but it amazes me how well you can get to know someone and strike up a friendship with them by talking to them on the phone. 


Your first day was on your birthday (November 3rd, 1997).  Tell us about that day.

KIM: I personally knew a few of my co-workers so I was only a little nervous when I arrived.  I was greeted with flowers and balloons at my desk and a birthday cake to share at lunch.  First impressions do mean a lot; I realized immediately what a caring company I had signed up to work for.

You had a connection with UCS before working here.  What was that connections?

KIM: I worked as a cashier in Patient Accounts at a hospital that used UCS as a collection agency and frequently spoke to Client Services to reconcile bad debt.

You've worn many hats for this company.  Tell us a little bit about each role.  What's been the most challenging aspect of your position?

KIM: I began as Clerical Support, answering phones and applying new business.  Shortly after I started, a medical clinic was closing their operations so I was given the responsibility of billing and collecting their receivables.  What started out being a project, turned into a position as more businesses utilized UCS to mange the closing of their accounts.  I have worked as an extended business office financial counselor, collection specialist/manager, payroll and human resources and am currently a pre-litigation manager.

Diversity is something I enjoy but can be a challenge in itself.

The collection industry can be a difficult industry to work in.  Why did you stay and make it your career?

KIM: I stay because I enjoy helping people and I work for an agency that understands "bad things happen to good people".  Treating consumers with respect and dignity is our way of doing business and makes me proud of the work I do.

Over the years, what's been the biggest change you've seen at UCS?

KIM: There has been an enormous amount of technological advancements since 1997. 

In 2008 we converted to a new debt collection software program.  Since then, there have been several upgrades installed to increase the level of automation, thus improving collector's productivity and efficiency.

1950's Trivia Quiz

1. The first credit card ( that could be used at multiple establishments) came out in 1950.  Name the credit card.

2. This TV sitcom of the 50's was the first scripted television program to be shot on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience.  It was the most watched show in the United States in 4 out of its six seasons. Name the show.

3. In what year did Gibson introduce the Les Paul guitar?

4. What was Elvis Presley's first hit?  It came out in January 1956.

5. Who was the first woman to be on the cover of Business Week magazine in 1954?


1.  The Diner's Club
2.  I Love Lucy
3.  1952
4. Heartbreak Hotel
5. Brownie Wise - American saleswoman who was mostly responsible for the success of Tupperware through her "party plan" marketing system.