Life in the Fast Lane

`You can’t label a business as good or bad," says Patty Flynn Genovay, who owns A-1 Collection Service, a business in an industry with a bad reputation – bill collecting. It expanded last year from West Upper Ferry Road to Quakerbridge Executive Center.

"I’m in bill collection work and I love it," says Genovay, a believer in the power of positive energy. "It is a so-called negative profession, but we go overboard to keep the environment one of positive energy. We create a workplace that is healthy. Our employees know that, if they have issues, they can bring them to the top and get them resolved, clean the air so to speak."

Bill collecting is better, by far, than telephone marketing, she says. "Everyone thinks ours is a negative, difficult business to be in, but the marketers are calling you up for no good reason. We’re calling for a damn good reason."

Genovay, who has two school-aged children, has reinforced her appreciation of positive energies by adapting the principles of Rhonda Byrne, as espoused in the best-selling "The Secret." She believes that, under the "law of attraction," people control their lives by controlling their thoughts, that one can shape one’s destiny through the power of one’s mind. "Like energy attracts like energy," Genovay says. "If you wake up on top of the world, only positive things can come to you."

Genovay did not come from a privileged background, and as a child she sometimes had to answer the phone for a collection call. "Absolutely I did." But she did not grow up thinking "I could do a better job."

"I was plopped here," says Genovay, relating in a telephone interview how she worked part time when she was a student at Rider. "I was very good at putting my finger in the dam when there was a leak, and I decided I could do this. And I think negotiation is fun."

Five years after her 1980 graduation, she and her partners bought the company from Bill James, who had started the firm in 1962. Her remaining partner, Ray Trainer, has moved to Florida, and she has 75 percent ownership. "Back then we were 20 inefficient employees working manually off of card sets," she remembers. She converted the business to computers and now has 32 workers, most of whom have been there for a long time. She has plans to double the staff.

A-1 Collections has a niche in hospital bill claims and is a division of Genovay’s Traf Group Inc. Debt collection clients can buy her services without paying a fee. All they have to do is add a clause to their customer contracts, stating that the customer is liable for any and all collection costs.

Another division, Credit America, is an accounts receivable management company firm that helps businesses with cash flow by sending out letters when the account is only 30 or 45 days old. One of its specialties is musical instrument rentals.

"When you grow up with a background not very cushy you learn to focus on the positive," says Genovay. At the time that she introduced Byrne’s "Secret" concept to her team, one employee was emitting negative energy by failing to reach the goals set for him. "He said he wanted to be here, but his numbers weren’t showing that he wanted to be here," she says. "I coached him in the basics. Then I spent five minutes telling him about the `Secret,’ and reminded him that he was making only two-thirds of his goal, and that this month he had to make the other third to keep his job. The next day when he came back from lunch he got a $25,000 payment."

Says Genovay: "The reason we don’t get what we want in our life is that we are not allowing it. Nothing can come to you when your energy is low."

Genovay’s workers who do get stressed out by their jobs have a pleasant alternative: Their "break" room is equipped with a Brookstone massage chair.

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