A man commonly acknowledged as one of the innovators of the debt buying and collection industry passed away late last week.
Rufus “Bud” Reitzel, Jr. died in Florida at the age of 78. In 1962, Reitzel founded the company that would become Asset Acceptance Capital Corp. (NASDAQ: AACC) and pioneered the practice of purchasing non-performing consumer receivables.
A native of Michigan, Reitzel graduated from Wayne State University and enlisted in the U.S. Army thereafter. Once his military stint was done, Reitzel founded Lee Acceptance Co., which eventually became Asset Acceptance.
Reitzel took the company public in 2004 and retired as Chairman in 2006.
The focus of the company was not always exclusively debt purchasing, as Reitzel told insideARM in a 2006 interview. Asset Acceptance had plenty of contingency debt collection work early on, but sold its collection agency unit in the 1970s to focus exclusively on debt buying. “I always liked collecting my own accounts over collecting for someone else,” said Reitzel.
This focus is what many in the ARM industry consider to be his pioneering achievement.
“As far as I know Bud was the first to purchase non-performing debt and he was proud and humbled by his stature in our industry,” said Brad Bradley, Asset Acceptance Board member, its former Chairman, and son-in-law of Reitzel.
The company noted Friday that Reitzel’s vision and determination helped create and grow a firm that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, a rare achievement in any industry.
“The passing of Bud is a somber moment for all of us at Asset Acceptance,” said Rion Needs, President & CEO of Asset Acceptance Capital Corp. “As one of the most respected pioneers in the industry and as the founder of our Company, he set the standard for the ARM industry. As we continue to grow as a Company, the values and ethics instilled by Bud during his tenure will continue to live on. He will be missed.”
A fixture at early industry events, Reitzel prided himself on developing relationships and networking in the burgeoning debt buying market.
“He cherished the network of friends and associates that he developed through business,” said Bradley. “Whether strolling through the office or working a conference, his magnetism was inescapable and he always had time to chat. Bud was a master at the ‘art of the deal’ and never met a deal he didn’t like, at the right price of course!”
Visitation and services for those wishing to pay respects will be held later this week at Blount & Curry Funeral Home, 605 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, Florida.
Friday, October 19, 2012, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, October 20, 2012, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Saturday, October 20, 2012, 11:30 a.m.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made in Mr. Reitzel’s memory to Tampa General Hospital Foundation, Palliative Care Program, P.O. Box 1289, Tampa, FL 33601.
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