The Untold Story of Fronteer Directory Yellow Pages!

The Untold Story of Fronteer Directory Yellow Pages!By Steve William Sanson 
The Fronteer Directory Company was born out of Minnesota by a man named Albert Holtan Jr. and sold to McCloud Yellow Pages for $22 million dollars.  Before the sale of the Minnesota directories Holtan formed a company in Las Vegas Nevada in 1994 and started to compete against Sprint Yellow Pages published by R.H. Donnelley.

I (Steve Sanson) was recruited in 1998 to start up an aggressive outside collection campaign in an effort to recover about $1.3 million dollars.  This was bad debt of uncollectable dollars that was tossed back and forth from one Collection Company after another with limited or no results.

In my efforts I brought in $5 to $20 thousand dollars per week doing a grass roots campaign from business owners and was requesting that they pay on their past advertisement.

I was reported to the news as an individual that was strong arming business owners to gain the dollars owed, but that wasn’t the case everybody had their own view points.  My mission was to have each individual fulfill their contractual obligation.

Three months past by and I was promoted from outside collections to Credit/Legal Manger. The Credit Department had no policy, bylaws, or guidance. It was a free for all, and I had to build this department from the ground up in addition I had to learn how Small Claims Court worked in Clark County.

After building this department I turned it into a cash cow. Exhausting all legal avenues to obtain the dollars owed from all advertisers, I turned this company into a zero tolerance when money was owed. I was in charge of the front end and the back end of the company when it comes to collecting money.

On the front end I had given advertisers credit terms, pulling their credit reports, business license, corporate charter, fictions names, etc.
On the back end I had my assistant (Maximilliane Gossett) follow up with a phone call, sending out letters of demand, filing summons and complaints, mediating payment plans, filing writ of executions to levy bank account, wages, filing abstract of judgments, to record liens against their parcels, filing examination of judgment debtors, order to show cause, bench warrants for contempt of court using Sheriff Civil to make an arrest, and proof of claims on all bankruptcy filings.

At times the office of Vital Records was checked as part of skip searching to make sure that there were no death certificates on file. Negotiate and signed retainer agreements with law firms to handle money that was more than the small claims limitation.

I have filed an estimated 2,300 cases in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Pahrump, and Boulder City combined. With a 99% success ratio on cases won in front of Judges and Referees.  I was able to collect an estimated amount of $20 million dollars in revolving accounts and $4 million dollars in bad debt.

The Fronteer Directory Company always sold for advertisement a year before the publication year. The Fronteer Directory used to sell advertisement for four publications within one year breaking the city up in fours Southeast, Southwest, Northeast, and Northwest with a red cover with an accompanied mini cellular phone book and a Talk line.  

In 2000 the Fronteer Directory went (semiannual). Two phone books per year, one phone book dedicated to the South and the other for the North in a purple color phone book indicating that they serve “the entire Las Vegas Valley”. Both the cellular phone book and the Talk line were dropped from the sales program.

In 2001 the Fronteer Directory went from a semiannual phone book to an annual phone book still with its purple cover, but only distributed once per year between the months of January to March printing and make representation that between 600 to 650 thousands books will be printed and distributed within the Las Vegas market.  Phone books were delivered in Boulder City, Henderson, North Las Vegas, and Las Vegas Township.

There is a statement made on the spine and the cover of the book: “Serving the Entire Las Vegas Valley”.  The phone book was now small enough to fit in your car and stack on top of the much larger Sprint phone book. At this time the delivery project was taken away from the Review Journal and given to the Sales Representatives to handle.

The Fronteer Directory also bought out the only Spanish directory in town making the Fronteer Directory the only bilingual yellow page directory in the Las Vegas Market with the blessing from the Latin Chamber of Commerce.  
The Fronteer Directory also had sales representatives going to the schools teaching children how to use the yellow pages. Being active in all chamber of commerce, participating at conventions, also offering prizes for the sales representatives to help motivate and improve sales.

In 2002 the color of the phone book changed to yellow with everything else remained the same.  In 2004 the owner Albert Holtan decided that he will not deliver the phone book in Boulder City, but he did not delete the map of Boulder City off of the front of the phone book. In 2005 the color of the phone book changed to black, but everything else remained the same.  

In 2006 the Fronteer Directory sales representatives was selling for the upcoming year. Moral was at an all time low. Holtan did not hire any more seasonal sales representatives as he has done in the prior years. There were no appointment setters to make appointments for the sales representatives, no convention participation, there were no sales meetings, and absolutely no money was put back into the business.
The sales representatives made representation to Holtan several times indicating that advertisers are demanding an on line presents.  

The owner Albert Holtan told the representatives to tell the customers that we are actively working on an online presents, but there was never any intentions on making this a reality.

After the closing of the 2007 publication to go to the printer sales was down, there was no one making sales for any Spanish advertisements, and no new sales representatives other than the original four representatives to cover the entire Las Vegas Market (Victoria Adams, George Chehade, Larry Kush, and Al Quale).   The owner’s son Tim Holtan was in charge of National Sales and that sale also declined, because his son was constantly going back and forth to Minnesota to develop another publication called Pioneer Yellow Pages.

By the end of March 2007 the sales representatives became concerned because there were no yellow pages to be delivered. When the representatives asked about the printing of the directory Holtan put blame on the printer (Liberty Press in Utah) by saying that they are backed logged or ran out of paper. The real reason is that there was no order placed to print the directories.   Several sales representatives confronted Holtan and ask him if the business was closing and Holtan said “no that there will be another publication for 2008”.

In April 2007 Holtan had a meeting with myself and George Chehade sales manager for the company and told us that he wanted us to purchase the company by the way of Investors. Several investors wanted federal tax returns, balance sheets, corporate records, but Holtan did not want to provide any of these documents.  

When asked about liabilities Holtan stated that the liability was only for the 2007 printing bill with Liberty Press in the amount of $273,000 that he will pay once he receives $1.2 million from the investors.

Holtan stated that he would take the $1.2 million and print the full amount of the directories and pay for the distribution. We ask if we could contact the printer directly and Holtan said absolute not that it would have to go through him or no deal.   No investors wanted to purchase the business. They claim that Holtan is hiding something and they did not want to do business like that.

We found two friends that wanted to invest and also believed in me and Chehade and they wanted to move forward. One of the investors Paul Murad a Las Vegas Developer wanted to take a loan out for $1.5 million. The bank turned down Murad because they stated that Holtan was claiming a lot of personal expenses on his Federal Tax return for several years placing the business in a negative cash flow.

Murad still wanted to move forward with the purchase and he stated that he will take responsibility for the $273,000; 2007 printing bill and the printing and distribution of the remaining balance of the directory and Holtan said no deal.

In May 2007 after advertisers calling and complaining and delivery drivers frustrated that they have no work. A truck load of 2007 publications rolled in, the normal run per truck is 200,000 this run was 50,000 directories short.

When the representatives asked about this Holtan stated that it will be on the next run. George Chehade noticed that the cover and the spin had the words “Serving the Entire Las Vegas Valley” deleted when he approached Holtan, Holtan stated that “he didn’t want to mislead people, because he doesn’t deliver in Boulder City”, but we haven’t delivered in Boulder City for the past two years and those words were on prior publications.

We later found out that Holtan’s statements to us ‘that there is no money owed to the printer other than the 2007 printing bill’ was false.  We found out directly from the printer that $753,000 for the 2006 printing bill in addition to the $273,000 for the 2007 publication is owed.

After the publication was delivered by the end of May beginning of June Holtan instructed me to close the business down. Instead of calling a meeting Holtan talked to each individual on the phone and told them the bad news.  

When asked about the additional 500,000 publication Holtan stated that he will print them in July.  Holtan wanted me to transfer all phone lines that were needed to my home and relocate the computers so that I would be in a position to resume collections and bill the advertisers for the 2007 directories.

All sales staff and office personal expressed their opinions indicating that it was unethical of Holtan to continue billing customers on a
650,000 distributions and only printing 150,000 and it was not in my best interest to help him with this practice.

I gave Holtan the benefit of the doubt and transferred the collection of the business to my home office. Holtan  kept me on as an employee although he promised that he would give me a percentage of the receivables, everyone told me that with his love for money he would never sign any agreement given me a percentage.  

Holtan got rid of another business he owns called Square One Publishing out of Minnesota; he used this business for accounts receivables and payables for Fronteer Directory Company with one employee working out of her home.

If someone called the phone line and asked about more publication Holtan requested me to lie and tell them that more publications are being distributed.

Holtan did not want any of the advertisers to know about the shortage of the phone books or the relocation of the office. Holtan told me he did not want to send up any red flags it was business as usual.

Towards the end of July 2007 I approached Holtan and asked him if he was going to print the additional publication and Holtan’s first answer to me was “no” and then he said “maybe August”.

At this point I knew that I had to make a judgment call.  I looked at how he rubbed the sales representatives on their commission from advertisers that pay monthly, strung the sales representatives for months with a false notion that the business will still be around in 2008, while they used their home equity line of credit and life savings, how he had mislead me and Chehade during the potential sales of the business, and how he has falsely taken money from advertisers with a representation of 650,000 directories and never informing them.

In addition, advertisers that made an over payment did not receive a refund; the money was placed in a Fronteer Directory account called 2103.

My conscience did not allow me to continue I had to make the public aware of this deception.  I informed the Clark County District Attorney David Roger and the media KVBC Channel 3 reporter Jesse Corona with the help of Chehade as well as the Nevada State Attorney General’s Office Consumer Fraud Protection.

The Nevada State Attorney General’s Office launched an Investigation into the matter and served a searched warrant against the Fronteer Directory Company of Nevada, Inc. the lead investigator is Collin Haynes at
702-486-3799 for the Consumer Fraud Division.

By doing this I have lost thousands of dollars and am now unemployed.  I have chosen to turn in someone I was once very loyal to and listen to my conscience, picking morality over money. I hope that my shared experience will encourage business owners in the future to be honest with their customers as well as their employees.

E-mail: phone (702) 283-8088


One Response to “The Untold Story of Fronteer Directory Yellow Pages!”

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