Dear Crabby, 

After 20 years, I continue to run the office at a mid-size pottery manufacturing company, which has been in business since 1971. We are very proud of the 30 artisans, who create personalized and customized pottery and ceramic products. In addition, we have a small group that makes simple non-glazed pots that get shipped all over the country, mostly to plant and flower nurseries. 

Our president is 90 years old and his children, who are in their 60’s, are also in the business. The problem we are having is that we are not using technology to ascertain the credit worthiness of many of our existing and potential non-ceramic product customers. As a result, our DSO continues to become longer, and our write-offs are becoming more frequent and larger. 

I have spoken with our president a few times about the need to have our customers fill out an on-line application, requiring more detailed credit information and then integrating that information with D&B, Equifax, or another online a credit reporting system. Unfortunately, the president does not like anything to do with computers and insists that as much as possible, all aspects of the business remain as a manual task. In his view, this reflects the personalized and customized philosophy to which he attaches to our pottery and ceramic products. 

How can I help him to advance forward? 

Signed: Still Working in the Stone Age

Dear Stone Age

I think it is wonderful that your founder and president is still working at 90 years of age, and I applaud his life and accomplishments. I hope I can be a person who at that stage of life can still be a productive, relevant, and a contributing individual. Not only to a company or organization, but to society as well. 

I believe there may be an answer here. You mentioned that the owner’s children, who are in their 60’s, are also working at the company. With the information you have provided, I’m not sure as to the length of time they have worked there, their perspective or goals for the future, as well as the relationship they have with their father. 

But if they have some managerial independence and are forward thinking individuals for the company, I think as a first step you may want to talk with one of them and get their feedback. If they have a degree of authority within the organization to make decisions and changes, it seems to me that they would want to implement the tools and controls that would support the company. Certainly, the fact that you have been there for a couple of decades reflects a level of trust that I feel lends itself to helping you persuade them on the benefits of an on-line application. 

In addition to the on-line application, implementing all kinds of technology within the credit function is indispensable in strengthening your overall credit risk management system. If your company has the goal of increasing its non-glazed pots production, you need a credit function that will facilitate before and after credit risk management activities quickly, correctly, and cost effectively. 

Please let me know what happens. 


Dear Crabby is a credit collection and human resources advice column by Nancy Seiverd President CMI Credit Mediators Inc. Your thoughts and comments ( are most welcome! All Rights Reserved

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