“We wanted a relationship that revolved around taking care of our associates,” said R. Fred Houston, Columbia Ultimate president and CEO. “We had several offers but chose Ontario Systems because they, like us, are starting a period of real growth and they agreed to keep our employees.”
The plan is to keep the 120 employees working for Columbia Ultimate in Vancouver, Wash., where the company was headquartered.
Houston told the Vancouver Business Journal that he will stay with the Ontario Systems “for a while” as a vice president. Houston will continue to own the Intelitech Group, an analytics provider for the collections industry.
There are ambitious goals set for Columbia Ultimate now that it is part of the Ontario Systems family.
[Houston] predicts 10 percent revenue increases and corresponding employment growth of 12 or more new jobs in Vancouver a year under the Ontario Systems umbrella.
The fact that nobody grows up wanting to be in the collections industry creates a sizable barrier to entry for possible competitors, Houston said.
“This business is people intensive. There is no formal place to learn about debt recovery,” he said. “It takes a while to learn about regulations and compliance issues. That is part of why our people are so valued.”