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Solutions, talking about the setup, industry standards, new regulations and how things have changed over his two decades in the business.
Bergelson didn't follow a career, but more he followed a passion for success. To him that meant both monetary and impacting the community. The Pennsylvania native has done both now. Debt Recovery Solutions is a multimillion dollar business that specializes in recovering debts for businesses from grocery stores to hospitals.
And yet, two hours later, Bergelson is at Coal Fired Bistro, his restaurant of seven years, hamming it up with executive chef Gerard Cribbin, the same passion evident.
Like father, like sonIf there is one person that has impacted Bergelson's life, it's his father, Victor. As a child growing up in Philadelphia, Bergelson took a keen interest in his father's business. It wasn't so much the business itself, but more the way his father did business, Bergelson says.
"He comes on strong," Terry Kanause, Bergelson's friend of 20 years, confirms. "Eric only has two gears, sleep and 10th gear. There is no first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth."
In meeting Bergelson, it's unclear whether it's his personality that fuels his entrepreneurial spirit or if it's actually his entrepreneurial spirit that fuels his personality. Either way, the man barely. Ever. Stops.
Bergelson maintained his business in Charlotte until Hurricane Hugo came and changed the housing landscape. That was also Bergelson's first exposure to collection agencies. He wasn't mad, he says, but instead became fascinated with how they operated. So when he decided to move to Greenville in 1990, he switched careers a bit. Real estate became a secondary to his interest in debt recovery.
"It just wasn't for me," he says.
"It faded away," he says, with a shrug. "And you have to reinvent yourself."
nothing if not motivated.
He rented the home and made enough to pay the mortgage and then some. So he did it again.
You could say Eric Bergelson has just two settings sleep and full speed. But that serves the 52 year old serial entrepreneur well since he owns four businesses two restaurants, a debt collection agency and an emergency shelter manufacturing company.
He is so enthusiastic you think this must really be his lifelong passion.
Slowly, Bergelson built up a business, Clearcheck Inc., but he knew to grow he needed to expand to other markets. So he looked to grocery stores. He spent months driving around North Carolina and South Carolina stopping into any and every store or hospital or doctor's office he could find. In 18 months, Bergelson estimates he put about 180,000 miles on his Mazda 4 cylinder Protg.
So he opened a second, larger location and business grew even more. Bergelson lived the life of a successful, if immature, businessman. He bought a waterside condo and a Porsche and every color of Polo tee out there.
The lesson has remained a quasi rule for Bergelson himself as he has developed his own entrepreneurial path.
In school, Bergelson was no standout. He never got math and by the time he was sitting in a college classroom, he just lost interest altogether.
From food to debt collection to manufacturing
On the flip side, Bergelson has successfully developed two popular restaurants Coal Fired Bistro and Bacon Bros., effectively helping to stimulate the I 85 corridor.
After the video game bust, Bergelson took the money he had remaining and moved to Charlotte in 1984. Why Charlotte? Well, because it was a major hub of Piedmont Airlines at the time, and he'd always enjoyed the airport when he stopped through.
But he knew he had to do something and that something turned into video games. Bergelson got a job working construction and on his way to work one day came across a new kind of game hall with pool, pinball and video games. He Converse Chuck Taylor Ii
But Bergelson isn't done. In 2010, he formed Global Dynamic LLC, a company that specializes in manufacturing automatically deployable emergency shelters. He has yet to see a return on his investment, but he's not concerned. Bergelson is Converse All Star Leather Ox
He consulted his father and the two purchased a property in West Palm Beach, where Bergelson installed 60 video game machines. The business was an instant success and before he knew it, Converse All Star 2018 Collection Bergelson was raking in $1,000 a day.
In his new city, Bergelson jumped into a new business homebuilding. He bought an old single family home and renovated it. Thanks to his experience in construction, he not only had keen knowledge of home trends, but also the skills to do a lot of the work himself.
On a Wednesday, Bergelson zips around his debt recovery business, Dynamic Recovery Converse All Star 2 Mens
"My father taught me everything about what it is to be a salesman, which has nothing to do with sales," Bergelson says. "It has everything to do with relating to people and getting them to trust you. You've got to be approachable."
Of course, the story doesn't end there. In a year, Nintendo had started taking hold of the market and the video stores went bust.
"It's more stupidity I think than anything else," Bergelson says of his diverse business resume. "It's fun and it's challenging and sometimes it doesn't make good business sense. But all those challenges keep us happy."
Bergelson started small. He drove to local doctors' offices asking them to give him a chance at no charge. Then, he'd follow up a couple weeks later. Usually, they'd agree, and then it was his chance to shine.
Over the years, Bergelson's business boomed and in 2009, he opted to sell his Clearcheck to a Fortune 500 company.
Try, try againBergelson has a matter of fact way of talking about his failures. It's not that they haven't affected him, but they just haven't prevented him from trying again.
"Eric is one of those guys who could sell ice cream to an Eskimo," says Knause, a CPA and a lecturer in accounting at Clemson.
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