J. Harry Tregoe


Beckel first got involved with NACM at the local level in 1986. He made the decision then that if he was going to pursue credit as a profession he had to align himself with a group that allowed him to network, to meet and discuss solutions with his industry peers and to take advantage of any educational opportunities that would help him succeed at his position.


“I always say that I might be one of the few people that actually called up the local affiliate office and asked them how I could join, and even if I could join,” remarked Beckel. “I distinctly remember when a representative from St. Louis told me that when I join the affiliate I would automatically become part of the national association, I thought ‘Wow. That’s pretty cool.’”


He has since earned the designation of Certified Business Fellow (CBF), following that by earning his Certified Credit Executive (CCE), which he has acknowledged has been an important part of his success. He has been part of various industry credit groups and was an essential figure in establishing the two-day annual Gateway Conference while serving as chairman of the Gateway Affiliate. “There was a sense of pride with that accomplishment and that it has been successful for a number of years,” said Beckel. “I think, on a national level, I’ve been really encouraged that we have been moving away from such a large reliance on membership dues and are getting more of our budget from services that we provide.”


During his tenure with NACM, Beckel has watched the credit function evolve and has witnessed how everyday duties have been transformed. Technology has played a paramount role in life around the globe, and in credit departments, it has completely changed the rhythm of business. “At my first credit and collections job we had only one terminal where you had access to the mainframe computer and if somebody needed an invoice, you mailed it to them,” recounted Beckel. “I would say one of the most profound changes in the industry has been the advancement of technology. It has provided us with greater efficiency and has made it possible for one person to accomplish more than when I first started in credit.”


He added, “Personally, I find technology exciting because it tends to take away some of the repetitive tasks and the drudgery of the job through automation and making those tasks something you don’t have to address on a daily basis.”


Over the next year, as the nation continues the struggle of treating a host of financial ailments, and as the credit function continues to evolve, NACM, its leadership and its members will be challenged in their roles. “It’s a great honor to be the leader of our organization for the next year,” stated Beckel. “And I’m really looking forward to it. These are difficult times, but I believe that those who are most successful in credit are within the NACM group. I’m looking forward to working with everybody over the next year.”


DAVE BECKEL, CCE Chairman, 2008-2009


The economic maelstrom that has pummeled the United States has left almost no industry unscathed. All the while, credit departments, the heart and soul of businesses the country over, are continuing to be squeezed and pressured to do more with less. Two-thousand nine will continue the trend and be a year of challenge and change for NACM and its membership of credit professionals. For NACM-National Chairman David Beckel, CCE, manager of sales service and credit for MiTek Industries, Inc., today’s calamity is an opportunity for credit managers to prove their worth. “NACM was formed in 1896 as the result of a financial crisis, and that is something we are experiencing again today,” said Beckel. “I think credit professionals as a whole will become of greater importance during this current turmoil, and proven professionals will be elevated to much higher value and influence within most organizations.”


Beckel, whose chairman’s term swept in with the new year, added, “There seems to have been basic practices that were lost—at least on Wall Street—that we as credit professionals deal with on a day-to-day basis: the basic acknowledgement that we need to evaluate customers not only on their ability to pay, but also on their willingness to pay, and the recognition that everybody should be kept within a certain credit limit to ensure that they can pay their bills.” The resounding theme from Beckel, and many others in the industry, is that now, more than ever, credit departments have the chance to shine, both within and outside their companies, as a key cog in the economy.


Beckel has been a leader at MiTek for more than 17 years and has been involved in the credit industry since working part-time with Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) while he was in college. After graduating from the University of Missouri, St. Louis with a B.A. in Political Science and History, Beckel took on the role of business analyst full time with D&B. Over his 27 years in the credit industry, he has worked in manufacturing, durable medical equipment, restaurant equipment, truck leasing and for a trucking company. But regardless of the industry, there are problems that are simply universal.


“What I’ve found is that most companies experience the same type of problems that you continually see in credit,” said Beckel. “Headaches, such as pricing errors, shipping and quality problems, are the norm. No matter what company you work for, those problems always seem to be present. And I always thank God for bad payers, otherwise I’d be out of a job.”


He noted, “You would think that financial expertise would change over time, but it has kind of gone the other way in certain aspects. Companies now work more off of high-leverage situations, trying to use their vendors to help finance their operations. And there’s more pressure now than in years past to ensure receivables are staying in line while sales goals are being met with fewer people in the credit department and more demands put on them.” In 2008, as is seen in corporate structures the world over, MiTek took customer service responsibilities for the company’s largest product line and wove them into Beckel’s role in the credit function. The increased scope of responsibilities is something credit managers are currently being subjected to, and it is a trend that is expected to continue as the customer service and credit functions are anchored more securely together and headcounts are reduced.


“The common theme I hear from everybody is that they are constantly being asked to do more with fewer resources,” related Beckel. “I think that’s something as an association we have to make sure we are helping our members cope with, either by doing an outsourcing-type of arrangement or just with education on how to handle different problems that arise on a daily basis.”


He stated that over the next year, NACM is going to be focusing on ensuring the value of membership; making sure that the association is properly focused on the members and their needs. Beckel is advocating an “open door policy” for members to contact him, NACM Affiliate and National offices for input on new services that the association should consider developing. After his years as a member, an affiliate chairman and as a member of the association’s Board of Directors, he understands that today’s economic situation translates into an even greater value for membership with NACM.


“I think we can become even more of a resource that our members can turn to, both on a regional and national level, to address their concerns,” said Beckel. “Personally, I know there have been a few instances within my company where people have asked me a question and I really didn’t have any idea what the answer was, but I was able to make a couple calls to the affiliate office or other members I know and come up with a solution for them very quickly. That kind of service to your internal customers certainly puts you in a better light with them, particularly when you can come up with answers to difficult problems in a short amount of time.”