A repossession artist who sees his business as charm before stealth.
Matthew “RepoNut” Pitman has racked up thousands of hits on his YouTube channel, where he demonstrates the softer, gentler approach to repossession. He empathizes with the debtors and offers to put them in touch with their finance company to work it out. Sometimes it works. Often he still gets chased, spit on or punched.
After decades in the business, Pitman is starting a school to stop the cowboy antics that led to the death of a Pleasant Grove woman in May 2016 when she was pursued by an aggressive repo man and crashed.
Why did you want to be a repo man?
The summer I turned 16, a friend said, “You guys wanna see something cool?” This limo is backed up to a pay phone [in a 7-Eleven]. The limo driver is at the pay phone and he’s leaning up against the limo while he’s talking. And here comes this tow truck—pulls into the parking lot and kind of creeps through. He starts backing up fast and it looks like he’s gonna slam into the limousine and right at the last second he stops—picks up the butt end of the limo. As he pulls forward the dude leaning up against the limo loses his balance, goes down, phone in the air, on his ass! The limo driver goes running after him and the repo driver just put his arm out the window and flips the bird. I was like ‘Duuuude!”
What was your first tow job?
A red ‘82 Corvette—had a cherried-out paint job—13 coats of candy-apple red. My boss comes down the street 100 miles an hour in a residential neighborhood, hooks the thing and pulls it. It turns out the guy had the suspension pulled apart. It drops to the ground and cracks the fiberglass. My boss doesn’t care; he drives with sparks flying and tools falling off. We got the vehicle back to our lot with over $30,000 damage. My boss tells the finance company, “It is what it is.” I learned a lot from him—about ways not to be.
What’s your advice to would-be repo professionals?
The objective isn’t to get the car. That’s what you think a repo man is, right? The objective is to get the people back into communication with the lender. If they can resolve the issue that got me out here in the first place, and I still get paid and never move their car—oh, my God—that’s a resolution! You can’t take it personal. I get spit on, but if that happens I probably deserved it and I was lucky I only got spit on and not stabbed or shot.
What was your scariest encounter?
When I realized this guy had a gun in his hand. I could see the bullets-—it was a revolver stuck in my face. I could smell the alcohol on his breath. I put all three together and thought, “This guy has just enough dumb to pull the trigger.” That’s when I ran, jumped over a neighbor’s fence, puked and then took off as fast I could across the neighbor’s lawn—I was outta there!
written by: Eric peterson
photo by: Adam Finkle