Eric Belk is Vice President of Match Factors, based in Florence, SC. His father started Match Factors, and a freight brokerage company that served motor carriers and trucking companies, The Match Maker, in the 1980’s. Eric started working for both companies in 1995, right after he graduated from high school. He worked part-time while he was going to college, and all through MBA school as well. We were happy to sit down with Eric and ask him our 6 questions.
1. What are you most proud of, and what do you value the most in factoring?
I’m proud of helping to grow Match Factors from a niche-level service offering to a full-scale, national, reputable factoring organization. In addition to my role at Match Factors, I’ve also taught business principles and employment law at a local university for the past 17 years, which gives me a lot of professional satisfaction.
This is going to sound so cliche, but the relationships we have with our clients bring me a lot of joy. I like that our clients know us on a first-name basis, and we know them on a personal level. Knowing that we are truly helping them in their business gives me a lot of satisfaction. And this is going to sound odd, but I actually love the paperwork aspect of factoring. It’s very tangible and you feel like you’ve accomplished something when you complete a transaction.
2. What do you think the future of factoring will look like?
Conceptually, I don’t think factoring (the product) will look all that different. There will still be a need for immediate payment and managed billing/collections. But I see technology and automation playing a big role in the process of factoring. You will continue to see factors utilizing new digital tools and resources in their operations and service offering. Companies that don’t embrace new technical changes may find it harder to compete in the new environment.
It’s amazing how much changed in the past five years! The way we’re doing things today is so different from how we did them in the 90’s and 00’s. However, what we are doing hasn’t changed at all! It’s still factoring.
3. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
The hardest thing I’ve had to do was reporting to the owner and our team members about an expensive screw-up that occurred as a result of an important decision I made. Obviously, I made the wrong decision involving a client and debtor matter and it cost us money. But it was comforting to know that I had my team’s full support. I treated the mistake as a valuable lesson learned.
4. What’s the best business advice you’re received?
Two pieces of business advice stand out to me.
“The important thing is not knowing the answer; it’s knowing where to go to find the answer.” I don’t know who originated this quote, but a former employee told me this when I first started working at Match Factors. She imparted this sage advice on me after she asked me a question that I couldn’t answer. I learned that it’s okay if you don’t have immediate answers for everything or you don't know all the details. The important thing is knowing where to go to find information about the answer you’re seeking, or the solution to a problem you’re trying to resolve. And just as important, you need to be honest about this with yourself and others.
“Sometimes you have to find reasons to keep people.” As a kid, I remember my dad telling me this when talking about his employee or customer challenges. Basically, he wanted me to know that it’s easy to see one’s warts and faults, but it’s important that you try to find the good in people. It’s easy to see if an employee makes a mistake or if a customer is being difficult. That doesn’t mean you don’t need them. My dad always understood the importance of maintaining – not ending – relationships. This is especially true in small business. It’s something I take to heart.
5. Tell us about your family.
I’ve been happily married for 19 years to my high school sweetheart, Cindy. We have two beautiful teenage girls, Sophie and Laura Mason. We have a Weimaraner dog named Murphy, and a black rescue cat named Elliott.
6. What do you do for fun?
I love to be active; I hate sitting still. And I love doing things outside. My favorite sports include golf, running, Crossfit, biking and tennis. I also love traveling and learning about different places. My favorite place is nearby, Charleston, SC. I love everything about this city - the food, culture, history, recreation, and ambiance. It’s my happy place!