Each month, members of Levelset’s Payment Professionals Community nominate a credit manager that they feel is worthy of recognition. After being nominated by his boss, the July 2021 Credit Manager of the Month was awarded to Dan Simpson.
Dan is a Credit & Collections Analyst with Kodiak Building Partners, a building material supplier based in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dan to learn more about him, how he got started in the industry, and what he thinks made him stand out to his peers for nomination.
Lori Drake: What got you started with Kodiak?
Dan Simpson: I moved out to Colorado in October of 2019. My girlfriend and I were in a long-distance relationship, and I wanted to move out here and be with her. So I opened up my interview search and Kodiak Building Partners popped up. I saw a lot of parallels to my former employer, Ferguson (the country’s largest HVAC distributor).
I could tell that it was a great transition for me to move forward in my career. I went into the interview with a very open mind and thought it was going to be a pretty standard run-of-the-mill interview. But next thing you know, I was chatting with my now-boss, Jen Martin, for multiple hours. I realized what might’ve been a good fit was actually the perfect fit!
Kodiak is a company that allows me to have a pretty immediate footprint, which was a huge draw. I left the interview feeling really positive. Sure enough, I got an offer and I’ve hit the ground running since then.
How has Kodiak helped you in your career development?
Kodiak has definitely enhanced my leadership skills. My position currently involves talking with a lot of our credit managers, operations, and presidents at all of our various Kodiak business units. In this position, I have to understand the bigger picture. Being at the headquarters, I really have to understand how each business unit operates and how it all rolls up into Kodiak as a whole.
I would just say I’m becoming a little more comfortable with leadership skills. Additionally, public speaking is not necessarily my strong suit, but I’ve definitely been thrown in the water to advance that, which has been great. Kodiak has pushed me and challenged me, and it is very exciting.
How do you measure success as a credit team — and what are you doing to improve?
We measure credit success by tracking days sales outstanding (DSO), collection percentage, and a month-over-month analysis of past due receivables as a percentage of total AR. We also look at net write-offs.
We have really focused on driving down our 60+ receivables in the last year. We’ve been able to reduce our 60+ receivables an additional 3% from where we were in 2020. This has been a direct result of our credit leaders getting in front of their customers early and often and taking proactive measures to protect our receivables.
What is your approach to reducing credit risk with new customers?
Typically, when we consider extending credit to a new customer, we prequalify contractors before the sale using credit reports, trade references, and market trends. We look the company up on Google, Yelp, and other search engines. We also use personal guarantees when necessary.
Since Kodiak operates on a decentralized basis, managing lien rights can be a challenge — understanding the lien rights in each market where we operate. We want to make sure our local leaders have an understanding of the lien laws and deadlines in each of their states.
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What advice would you give to someone who is considering credit as a career?
In college, I was a finance major, but I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t think I wanted to go into investment banking or corporate finance or anything like that. All I really knew was I liked numbers and talking to people.
When I went to a career fair, I came across a recruiter from Ferguson. I talked about how I want to be in finance and how I want to be in sales. Then he asked “Why not credit? It’s kind of a little bit of both.”
I realized that he had the perfect way of summarizing the job. I couldn’t agree more because when you put a bunch of credit managers in a room or especially in a bar or anything like that, we are definitely as rambunctious or talkative as the sales team — or more!
I find that credit managers are very outgoing and chatty. I think credit is a great hybrid of people that want to be engaged and heavily involved with sales and operations without necessarily being in those specific roles.
I would share my experiences, showcase my experiences. A lot of time, your experience isn’t going to necessarily translate perfectly to something you’re applying for, but everybody has work experience or personal experience — something that happened to you while you’re in college or at a part-time job or whatever it may be — and you can use that to your advantage. So I would just say to stress those experience points.
What are some lessons that you’ve learned so far in your career?
Patience is a big one. Especially being younger in my career, you have to be patient to get to the next level. As a career progression, you have to be patient with customers and coworkers.
When you are dealing with people who aren’t getting paid, you have to understand where they’re coming from. You don’t want to let them walk all over you by any means, but at the same time, you want to be patient, following up on their promises and ensuring they are sticking to their promises. You have to work with them to find a resolution and be patient in those conversations.
Something that goes hand in hand with patience is empathy — especially in the last year and a half. It is just putting yourself in others’ shoes and understanding their situation. I want to call and email them as a human first and foremost, as opposed to saying “Where is my money?!” I think being empathetic is huge.
Another lesson I have developed is learning from failure. This is a strong third one for me. Mistakes will continually be made, but just learning from those is a big thing. Take responsibility and learn. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, as long as you learn.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I am very outdoorsy. Every season we get a ski pass. Personally, I snowboard — it’s something I’ve done since I was 13 years old. It is a great way to escape and enjoy yourself. During the summer times out here, I’m outside hiking and camping. At home, I love playing darts and unwinding.
I also have a new, 11-week-old black lab puppy, and he’s been the center of attention for the last couple of weeks. Just seeing how much he enjoys life and sniffing and running around. I have to say the dog life seems like it would be fun.
What are 3 words you think your colleagues and friends would use to describe you?
They would say I am reliable. I’m usually one that follows up on my word. Whether it comes to plans that we make or expectations or things, I try to do my best to get things done and/or being there when I’m supposed to be. Even something as simple as calling friends, just to touch base with someone that I haven’t talked to in a few months.
They would also say I’m a planner. Even in high school, I’ve always been the one that plans things.
And then I guess the last thing would be that I’m witty. I like a good play on words. I guess dad jokes would be a fun way of saying that, but witty is a fun one.
If you didn’t work as a credit manager, what would you want to do?
I’d love to play music. I would love to tour the country (if not the world) and play music for people. Granted, I’d have to be talented to do that. But I did grow up playing the drums. I was in the drumline in high school and played a little bit of drum set as well. My buddies and I were in a band growing up — nothing serious. I think we played a couple of pizzerias when we were younger, but I haven’t played in a long time. I do love to dabble. You know, it might be like riding a bike. You just never forget.
I really appreciate this honor. Thanks to my boss, Jen Martin, for nominating me and mentoring me for the last year and a half. I can’t wait to hear from more recipients of this award in the future!