Tulsa Businessman Bill Bartmann Starts Over With New Company

Tuesday, November 23rd 2010, 4:57 pm
By: News On 6

Chris Wright, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A Tulsa businessman is back more than a decade after his sudden fall from grace.

Bill Bartmann and his wife Kathy built Commercial Financial Services into a billion dollar business before it fell apart in the late 1990's.

It was at the Citiplex Towers in south Tulsa where 4,000 CFS employees lost their jobs. Twelve years later, it's where Bartmann will take his shot at redemption.

CFS was the toast of the town in the 1990's. The debt collection company employed thousands, and made billions of dollars. But the good times suddenly ended in 1998.

CFS filed for bankruptcy, and all its employees left Citiplex Towers with their belongings in hand.  Co-founder Jay Jones was later found guilty of conspiracy. He was convicted of illegally hiding the company's poor performance.

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"Why didn't I see what was going on? Why didn't I know? That's the thing I'll live with the rest of my life," said Bill Bartmann, CFS II President.

Bill Bartmann was acquitted in 2003, after he says he went from billionaire to nearly broke.

Since then, he has been a motivational speaker, but he and his wife Kathy are now back in the debt collection business.

9/4/2006 Related Story: Tulsa Businessman Embarks On Career As Motivational Speaker

They've launched a new company, and in a move some may question, have named it CFS II.

"We were proud of that, and to name it anything else would be kind of a lie," Kathy Bartmann said.

CFS will be doing exactly what it did in the 90's, and it will do it in exactly the same place. Workers are busy preparing the fifth floor of the Citiplex Towers. The company will move in next week. CFS II already has 77 employees, and plans to hire more soon.

"It's just absolutely exciting that we can now finish the story," Bill Bartmann said. "And we expect it will have a remarkably different ending this time."

That may provide little solace for the thousands who lost their jobs twelve years ago. But Bartmann says regardless of what you think of him, he promises to bring jobs to Tulsa at a time when many need work.

"There's a lot of things I can't do, things I am bad at trying to do. But there's one thing I'm pretty ok at, and that's creating jobs," he said.

CFS became well-known for its perks, like trips for the entire company to Disney World and Las Vegas.  Bartmann says CFS II will also reward its employees.

People are interested in working here. The company says it's receiving 100 resumes a week.