Ricky Hentz and Kenneth West, vice presidents and co-directors of operations of Pioneer Credit Company, were recently recognized as recipients of the American Financial Services Association’s Employee of the Year Awards.
The award ceremony took place on April 12, during the 2013 AFSA Annual Meeting and Leadership Conference in Las Vegas.
Hentz and West were two of eight individuals honored for outstanding service to their company and the financial services industry.
Hentz, whose formal education includes studying banking and finance at the University of Mississippi and graduate coursework in accounting from the University of Tennessee, began his career in the financial services industry in 1985 as an assistant manager with Commercial Credit Company. A promotion to a manager position in 1987 had him transfer from Memphis to Chattanooga to open his own new branch office in East Tennessee. In 1990, he moved to Cleveland for a management position with A.I.C. Financial to use his organizational skills to open yet another new branch.
However, in 1992, Norwest Financial, recognizing his excellent skills for business, management, analysis, customer service and dealing with people in general, brought him on board to oversee all office operations. He worked there until November of 1993, when he began a new phase of his life and career with Pioneer Credit Company.
His years of service, beginning as a supervisor in 1993, his promotion to director of supervision and vice president of operations in 1998 and his continuing education in and dedication to the financial services industry and Pioneer Credit Company as a whole have been viewed as exemplary.
"We at Pioneer look forward to a long and continued relationship with Mr. Hentz as a key part of our company's upper level management team,” said John W. Holden, Jr., president and CEO of Pioneer Credit Company. “He is an invaluable asset in the day-to-day operations of over 100 branch offices of Pioneer.”
Hentz, a die-hard Mississippi fan and golfer who fries the "best turkey in Tennessee,” is active in local community youth sports organizations and is also an avid hunter. He and his wife, Angie, a special education teacher, and two children, Will and Mary-Elizabeth, make their home in Cleveland.
West, a Cleveland native and attendee of Cleveland State Community College, learned the financial services industry from the ground up. Starting as a customer service representative in 1983 in the Cleveland branch of Pioneer Credit Company, West rose through the ranks to become a senior customer service representative in 1984 and an assistant manager in 1986.
He received a promotion to be manager of his own branch in Gulfport, Miss., in 1987 and again locally in 1997 in Athens. A perpetual student of his industry, West's success was indicated by a profitable branch with low personnel turnover, both indications of expertise in management of both finance and people, according to the company.
It was in April 2006 that West received a promotion to supervision which brought him to the company's home office in Cleveland. In keeping with his continuing upward path, West was promoted to vice president and co-director of operations in May of 2012.
"Mr. West really has learned from experience what the financial services industry and this company is really about, and how to help us make it work for everyone,” Holden said. “He is an important part of our operations and the success of Pioneer Credit Company."
West, his wife, Jessica, and his children Kyle, Kayla and Tucker reside in Cleveland. An enthusiastic four-wheeler and Tennessee fan, he is also a participant in local law enforcement and community youth sports.
A representative of Pioneer Credit Company said the entirety of the company’s staff — with 104 Branch offices in nine states — wishes to express their pride in “the quality of leadership and supervision provided by these most excellent representatives of the company.”