Member Profile: Meet Phil Klikas, Jr. Ph.D

“Until 11 years ago, I didn’t know the credit profession existed,” said Phil Klikas. “Some years ago, I read some very true words that have stuck with me: ‘No one chooses the credit profession; rather, it chooses them’.” Although Phil’s start in credit may have been a job-turned-career, he says there are reasons many stay in credit—the people and the challenge.

“It is the faces behind the profession who remind us all that the credit profession chose them, chose the noble. It is my opinion that many times, credit professionals allow the environment they work in to dictate their self worth,” said Phil. “We work in a world of debate and argument, being judged by number rather than who we are. We thrive in an environment that not many can exist in, much less thrive.  The credit profession that chose us is, and will remain, a tough profession in which to live and work.”

Phil is currently the regional credit manager for Symons of Dayton Superior. In addition, he also handles the lien process and litigation management for the company. He began in credit 11 years ago, while in college and out of work. His child was very ill—when offered a position doing collections, he jumped at the chance and it progressed from there. Since that time, he has done collections and credit management for credit card companies, advertising and manufacturing.

In just that short amount of time, Phil has seen the field of credit change. “The credit field has changed in that we can no longer do business by handshake,” he said. “It is essential for credit departments to have all of the legal tools needed to insure the ability to collect in our current volatile economy.” In the future, Phil sees more of the need for companies to change and adapt. “The ‘same old-same old’ or saying, ‘We’ve always done it that way!’ does not work anymore,” he said. “If companies do not change and progress with the business environment, they will go the way of all the other dinosaurs and become extinct.”

One key aspect of this change is education. Phil teaches at the Midwest School of Credit at NACM Midwest. “For me, it is an honor to be allowed to become part of the lives of students and to help them become the best in the field,” Phil said. Keeping in touch with many of his previous students allows him to ensure that the future of the credit field will be changing with the times, not being left behind with the dinosaurs.
Phil joined NACM nine years ago, and he has found the support he needed, both professionally and personally, thorough the association. “Membership has helped me obtain the skills and knowledge I need to do my job and to make it a career, rather than just a job,” he said. “Some of my best friends are in the credit field.” These friends, the faces of the profession, are what allowed him to achieve Mentor of the Year for 2008, and who help him most.

“It was the faces behind the profession that allowed me to become a member of the board of directors for NACM Midwest and those same faces that welcomed and mentored me,” he explained. “Those faces that befriended me, laughed at my poor sense of humor and helped me cut my teeth in the profession and treated me as an equal. It is the faces behind the profession that allow me to write books and seminars and give me the privilege of teaching the up-and-coming credit professionals.”

“It was the faces behind the profession that, when the year changed over and the opportunity came for me to move up in office on the board, understood when I told them I had felt a calling on my life and that it was in a different direction (see sidebar on next page),” said Phil.

“I do know that without the faces behind the profession, I would not be who I am today,” Phil explained. “I have heard some say that the profession is in danger of extinction. I would argue that as long as there are credit professionals like the ones who have been the faces I have come to know, the profession will thrive.”