Tracie Page remembers the exact date she got hired at Gateway Financial Solutions.
“I started working here on January 22, 2007,” she said. “I keep it on my calendar. That date means something to me. The company has grown so much since then.”
As a collection associate for 14 years, Tracie helps people improve their lives by walking them through the process of making payments. She paves a path to success.
“In my role, there are a lot of hats,” she said. “For example, it’s sort of like being an accountant for some of the younger folks: teaching them about credit and how to rebuild. When you’re looking at repos, it affects your credit, and that is something we don’t want. I don’t want a young person to have that impact on them. We don’t want that to happen. That’s not the line of work we are in. We want you to be successful. When you’re successful, so is Gateway.”
She said her job is an adventure that leads to fulfillment because she witnesses true life change.
“It’s an adventure for me,” she said. “I can talk to different people and I feel like I am truly helping people. To be able to have a conversation with someone who is paying a loan off, and now they can buy a house? That’s cool for me.”
So how did she get a job she loves? The old-fashioned way: timing and opportunity.
Support from All Sides
After serving in the Air Force between 1998 and 2002, Tracie came home to Michigan. She worked at a camp, then landed a serving job at the Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth – just a short drive from her hometown of Buena Vista.
That’s when she learned about an opening with Gateway.
“The wife of a friend of mine worked for Gateway, and he happened to say to me, ‘Hey, my wife’s company is hiring. Give me your resume,’” she said.
Tracie gave her friend her resume and continued on with her life. Then she got the call to come in for the interview.
“I was confident and knew I could pick up anything,” she said. “One of the things they asked me was, ‘Do you have a problem telling people that they need to pay their car notes?’ I was kind of confused at that question, since my mom raised me to think, ‘If I gotta pay my bills, they need to pay theirs.’ So they [the interviewers] cracked up at my answer. I think that stood out. That’s how I got the job.”
After years of learning the ropes and earning more responsibilities, Tracie said she now enjoys passing on that knowledge to new colleagues. That team-oriented mentality is soaked into the company culture.
“I’m here to help anyone who wants help,” she said. “I talk to people and say, ‘Hey, give me a call if you have any questions.’ To get to this point, for those who want to, you have to have this knowledge. We’re all collectors, no matter what level. I’m here to help everyone.”
She also loves that the company loves to help others beyond the company walls, too.
“What fills my heart is just knowing that Gateway helps families at Christmas,” she explained. “We get to be ‘Santa’s Helpers’ to pick out gifts. We help wrap all of these gifts and toys for local families, and that is beautiful to me. Companies don’t have to do that, but we do.”
Team members are valued at the company – not just as professionals, but as people. Tracie felt the genuine understanding, flexibility, and care from her colleagues when she faced family and medical issues.
“Medically, I had head surgery in 2008,” she said. “I still have issues from that. I get migraines. For me, when I do have my migraine issues, my boss understands it. They don’t give me flack if I have to take that time. If I’m hurting, they know it’s gotta hurt. They understand. I also lost six family members in seven months. I had an emotional time, but my bosses gave me time to get things together. I can confidently say they would do that with anyone as long as it’s not taken advantage of. The trust is there.”
Tracie said that support extends to the entire company.
“When an employee goes through adversity, if it’s known by the company, then the company goes all out to help support them,” she said. “It’s so fulfilling as an employee to know that my company will have my back if I’m going through hard stuff…for them to take the time and care like that? When they say family-oriented, they mean it, and that’s really cool. You can’t put a price on that.”
‘I’m a Lifer’
Tracie believes she doesn’t love her job because she’s good at it. She’s good at her job because she loves it.
“I don’t feel the need to go anywhere else to get a fulfilling job because my job now is so fulfilling,” said Tracie, who is a Level 4 collection associate – the highest level before management. “I can’t complain one bit. I love my job. If I didn’t love my job, I wouldn’t be good at it.”
It’s more than a job for her. It’s a family.
“I care about this job; I take this job seriously,” she said. “It’s not just a paycheck for me…this is my family. I’m happy here. I’m a lifer. I don’t feel the need to go anywhere else to get a fulfilling job because my job now is fulfilling. I can’t complain one bit. I love my job. That’s what keeps me coming into work each day.”
What was your first job? I was a hostess at Lone Star Restaurant. The only reason I got that job was I was waiting to leave for the military. It was my senior year; I graduated in 1997 and left for the military in 1998. My mom is like, “Hey if you got that car, you gotta get a job.” So I started working as a hostess just to have money to provide for me to get back and forth. At the restaurant, there were peanuts on the floor and line dancing and everything.
Favorite animal? Dog. I don’t have any pets, but the only reason I don’t have a dog now is because I need a fence. But I will get a dog. I’m working on that this summer, to get me a nice little metal fence. I don’t care what kind of dog I get. A dog is a dog for me.
What are three things you can’t live without (aside from food, water, air…)? Well, family of course. Sports in general. I love sports. I played basketball in high school and in the military. I’m also a bowler. Normally, I’m in two leagues and play in quite a few tournaments. I’ve been bowling since I’ve been able to walk. I’ve made the all-star Saginaw team; I’ve been Women’s Bowler of the Year twice. I had the highest average two times: 220 and 218. And my third thing? Laughter. I love to laugh. It makes a long boring life without laughter.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you? That I actually used to tap and jazz dance. I went to Ann Herzberg Dance Studio back in Bridgeport. I may be short and look young, but I can bust moves. I used to want to be Debbie Allen and be a dance choreographer. You couldn’t drag me off the floor. I loved tap and jazz. Ballet was too girly for me.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and who gave it to you? Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” That is the truth, and I take that with me work-wise and personal-wise.