Charlie Pilkington, Founder and Managing Member of NorthStar Technologies, often looks at the framed quote from Gary Comer, Founder of Land’s End:
Worry about being better; bigger will take care of itself. Think of one customer at a time and take care of each one the best way you can.
Charlie reminds me of why entrepreneurs are America’s competitive advantage in the world economy. He exudes inspiration and confidence. He’s unflappable and unstoppable. He has the integrity to live out the quote hanging on his wall.
I have the satisfaction of knowing that we provide recovery services to over 1000 clients nationwide and employ 20 great people.
And like most entrepreneurs, Charlie is innovative. Referencing his experience in Air Force Intelligence, he spotted a gap and decided to fill it.
I oversaw Risk Management for a $4 billion bank group, and collections fell under my department. I worked with both local and national recovery agencies at collecting charge-off debt and check collections. As an end user, and working with several companies, I saw what worked and what didn’t. I envisioned a one-top shop for both first and third party collections that involved a web-based reporting function for uploading accounts and payments. This was all cutting edge in 2002.
Most starters like Charlie show signs of entrepreneurship in the 4th grade. Charlie’s first venture started when, as at age 9, he looked up one late Fall morning and saw an opportunity. Mistletoe cluttered the top of a nearby tree. He noticed that a number of trees suffered from the same affliction, and with Christmas around the corner he saw an opportunity. He climbed the trees, cut out the fungus and sold the greenery to homes in his neighborhood. Then he looked for the next idea to invest his $21. That’s I call a “born with it” DNA Economy Hero.
NorthStar has had it’s challenges for sure. Winn Dixie’s bankruptcy in 2006 left the company without it’s largest client. But they’ve more than recovered. They’ll double in size in early Q1 with an acquisition. NorthStar, unlike many second stage ventures, secured growth capital from the third bank they approached. Charlie saw the first two as preparation for the third.
The first two banks spent most of their time telling me how ugly my “baby” was. They just showed me how to make it “prettier” for the third.
NorthStar has become on handsome kid under Charlie’s watch; and while he’s got plates to spin with the new purchase and other ideas in the works, his $10 million EBITDA BHAG seems almost as certain as his first $21.