By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Franklin Collection Service in Tupelo may be the only office where it’s common for the owner to play with his pet monkeys – while he’s wearing a business suit.
President Dan Franklin is not your typical corner-office dweller, thanks in part to his ownership of the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo.
On Monday, he celebrated Franklin Collection’s 30th year of doing business. And his “children” – two Capuchin monkeys – were dressed to impress the guests. Their nanny, Rebecca Nicholson, made blue diaper covers that were embroidered with “30th” on the backside.
During the day’s open house of the 36,000-square-foot building, visitors got to play with the monkeys and peek into Franklin’s office, which has a mounted buffalo head on the wall.
Franklin’s four companies – Franklin Collection Service, Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo, Efficiency Billing Service and Debt Relief Financial Services – employ about 245 people, with about 210 of them working for Franklin Collection.
He said it’s a big step up from when he started the business in February 1980.
“I was thinking about my first office, which was a bedroom in my house” in the middle of a soybean field, he said. “The second was a storage room … You had to clean the garbage out of it before you could work.”
Franklin Collection, according to vice president of portfolio management Sherri McClain, is a third-party debt collection service.
“If you didn’t pay the original collector, they’ll turn the debt over to us and we’ll ask you to pay the bill,” McClain said, in her office that overlooks the area filled by collection agents wearing head sets.
They work through phone calls and letters, she said.
“The old myth is we knocked on people’s doors and took their first born,” she said, laughing.
Franklin, a Tennessee native, said he got the idea for the collection service after he lost his sales job in January 1980, after moving from Pennsylvania the previous year. He said he knew a guy in West Virginia who had a collection agency and “it did really well.”
He later started the other businesses, including the buffalo park.
There’s a lot of crossover with the businesses, he said. The financial companies feed off of each other, he said, and the buffalo park provides entertainment and marketing opportunities.
Pictures of animals decorate Franklin Collection’s office on West Jackson Street Extended. His employees also get free admission to the park.
And most importantly, the monkeys, namely Opie and Gizmo, represent the company at trade shows. At his first trade show, he said he went from seeing 20 visitors in two days to several hundred once he brought out the monkey.
“He loves the attention,” Franklin said.
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or firstname.lastname@example.org.