The first of May marked the 30th anniversary of when Kennet Kronman and my late father Kaj Ollila decided to leave the banking world and set up OK Perintä. Hand on heart – I did not necessarily consider this decision to be a good one at the time. Today, however, I think it was the best one possible.
Why wasn’t I enthusiastic about the founding of OK Perintä? When OK was founded, I was only seven years old. Like many others, I considered debt collection to be something strange and difficult to understand. What I did understand was that it involved unpaid bills and that many people had financial difficulties, which isn’t always one of the easiest topics of conversation. Starting the business also meant that my father had long working days, like many other small entrepreneurs, and there was often little money to go around.
Nevertheless, I started working at OK Perintä when I moved to Helsinki to study law in 2002. My plan was to work for the company only while I was studying, then I would turn to something else. But now, 19 years later, I am still working for the company. And I am both happy and proud to do so.
My understanding of debt collection changed completely
When I started working at the Helsinki branch, there were 13 of us and the office was OK’s biggest. Vaasa and Tampere came next in size. We had a really good team spirit and we also spent time together after work.
In those days, we did a lot of manual work: we still printed out some of the letters, faxed summons applications to the district court, sent judgments in the mail to enforcement and, when they were returned, archived them in folders. We did everything together and helped one another when the need arose.
I quickly realised that debt collection was completely different to what I had imagined. It’s about finding solutions and providing support and guidance to our debtor customers so they can pay their bills. It’s also about finding flexible solutions for our clients so they have the confidence and capacity to sell on credit, while focusing on their core business instead of administrative tasks.
Besides that, the focus of all activities is on creating a workplace that invests in its staff: providing them with a setting to build a good working community and to succeed and develop in their careers.
Thanks are due to our staff and clients for our development
Today, I am the only one of my family still working operationally at OK Perintä. The company is no longer privately owned; it is part of an international listed company. Nevertheless, the things I value in OK Perintä that encourage and motivate me have not changed.
I value every day I get the opportunity to work with our highly skilled staff to develop and provide top quality services. There is much to do in the debt collection market. Greater transparency is required. As is an awareness of what the industry is really like and why it is so important.
I would like to express my warm thanks to past and present staff for what you have achieved over the years in developing OK Perintä. The journey to date is the sum of the efforts of so many people. Without you, OK Perintä would not be here today.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our clients, who have given us their trust and are constantly challenging us to do things better. Without you, too, OK Perintä would not exist.
The journey is not over yet, of course. Together, we will continue to develop the company towards new dimensions.