Tory Hotaling may have had an inauspicious start to his career in the ARM industry, but his perseverance and work ethic won the day and now, nearly three decades later, that slow start is nothing but the character-building funny part in the movie of his life. Read on to learn more about Tory and how he hasn’t forgotten the people who have helped him get to where he is today.
Name: Tory Hotaling
Company: Optio Solutions, LLC
Length of time at current company: 11 Years
Length of time in industry: I began my career in this industry on July 2, 1990. Back when skip tracing was done on microfiche and we fought over the Haines Criss + Cross directories for our skip tracing needs. We also worked off of work cards and everything was handwritten. Things have definitely changed during my 28 year career.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I had just finished college at Sonoma State University and really had no idea what direction I wanted to go. My roommate worked for Credit Management Services and was always bragging about how much money he was making. I finally inquired and he got me an interview with George F. Wright, who it turns out, was a legend in this business. I was hired on the spot because we all know referrals are the best way to recruit. I was not very good my first year and I really struggled with the $800 draw and commission. We worked a lot of overtime back then and did not get paid for it. I would go home constantly asking myself what the heck did you get yourself into? It finally clicked for me in Year 2 and I have never looked back. I went from a frontline collector to Branch Manager within five years. I was promoted to our company’s largest collections office in 2001 and, shortly after that, promoted to Regional Vice President for Credit Management Services.
What is your career highlight so far?
I would have to say getting promoted to the level of Regional Vice President. I was always told the harder you work the luckier you get. I developed a tremendous work ethic and always had my eye on accomplishing more and knew if I just outworked everyone else good things would happen.
When or how are you most productive?
I am a very detail-oriented person who needs a routine and structure to perform at my best. In my current position I get pulled in many different directions every day so it is crucial for me to have a game plan so I can accomplish what needs to be completed each day. I have a wonderful group of supervisors who play a big role in our team’s success and I count on them to assist with our daily tasks so our team is constantly moving forward. We all work very well together and they definitely make my job a lot easier.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
There are three people who I hold in high regard for the success I have had in this industry. George Wright, who I mentioned earlier, Steve Richards who unfortunately for the ARM industry is no longer in this business, and Chris Schumacher, who is my current boss and mentor. Each of them have very different leadership styles, but they all are very smart, highly motivated individuals who I have had the pleasure of learning different things from. George was my boss, my mentor, and one of my best friends for 15 years. I only had the pleasure of working for Steve for a few years, but he was incredibly smart and I learned a tremendous amount from his leadership and support. Chris has been in this business for a long time and is incredibly passionate about our company and its success.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else
This is a tough question. I don’t think I do anything better than everyone else, but I am very detail oriented, I am a leader not a boss, I am fair and always make decisions that are in the company’s best interest not my own. Teamwork makes the dream work!
What do you like most about this industry?
Being in this wonderful industry for more than 28 years gives me an appreciation for all of the people who are so willing to share their knowledge and their best practices with each other. There are some tremendous people who I have had the pleasure of working with over the years and sharing what we do so we all win. People like Roger Weiss, Jeff Dimatteo, Barry Jennings, John Tamarro and many others. The ACA conferences are extremely valuable as well.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
The negative stereotypes we have dealt with for years. I know here at Optio Solutions and across our industry compliance is the Number 1 priority.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I would love to own a sports bar & grill.
Describe a typical work day.
I am in the office by 8:00am and the first thing I do is review my calendar and set my game plan for the day. I clear out my emails from the night before and I prepare for any meetings I might have and then I head out to the collections floor to be with my team. At this point I am doing a number of different things throughout the day like reviewing and calling all claims over $10,000, file audits, review reports, meet with my supervisors, listen to AccountsRecovery.net webinars, reading about industry changes, and whatever else comes up during the day.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I have two. I love spending time with my wife, four kids and our Dachshund, Scout, at the beach relaxing with a drink in hand. I love sports and my hobby is playing fantasy sports, whether for an entire season or on a daily basis. I am now too old and out of shape to keep playing.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Some time ago I was given this quote and I read it every day!
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
I like this quote as it relates to the importance that collectors focus on today, and not let the past get them down. Collectors can only work in the present and can’t get down on the past. If they stay focused on their calls, the results should follow.
What are you currently reading?
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
I have learned a lot from several people who are much smarter than I am and I am always willing to share my knowledge with others. Feel free to reach out.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Chris Schumacher and Dave Siembieda.