Twelve years ago, Bill Bartmann was the 25th richest person in the U.S.
But when a scandal hit his debt-collection company, Commercial Financial Services, it collapsed and took Bartmann’s $3.5 billion net worth down with it.
Now at 61, Bartmann is making a comeback.
Inc.com has the full story, but here’s the gist:
The scandalous downfall
In the 1980’s, one of Bartmann’s colleagues at CFS was convicted of a crime when an anonymous letter was sent to a credit ratings agency. The conviction put his associate in prison for five years and got Bartmann indicted on 58 felony counts. The company could not withstand the scandal, and it went under.
Bartmann was innocent, so he challenged the court in a full-scale trial. The trial ended with Bartmann being acquitted and receiving a government apology. But the “misunderstanding” didn’t change the fact that he had been publicly shamed and was now bankrupt.
Bartmann decided to start talking. He wrote a book about the collapse of CFS and toured alongside Colin Powell and Steve Forbes. Bartmann was able to share his experience to audiences of 50,000 people.
When Bartmann and his wife saw Paulson ask for $700 billion in 2008, the moment was deja vu. It gave him an idea. “At 59 years of age, I didn’t want to build another billion-dollar company. But I could teach other people how to do what we did at CFS, to buy people’s debts for nickels on the dollar and then treat them with dignity and respect,” he tells Inc.com.
Now, Bartmann teaches people how to use the bad economy to create businesses. He offers two and five-day seminars that share his industry insight. More than 2,000 people have participated in his programs.
After watching the success of his programs grow, Bartmann revisited the idea of starting a company. And at age 61, he’s back in the game.
On July 1 of this year, Bartmann opened CFS II, hoping that the previous successes his company saw can repeat themselves in the similar economic environment.
His advice for entrepreneurs? “What separates successful people from those who aren’t is the way you deal with problems. And, as an entrepreneur, there will inevitably be problems. It’s the nature of the beast…You have to be a masochist not to hope for a happy ending this time.”
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