Exeleon Magazine

Heather Altepeter: Turning Challenges into Opportunities

Heather Altepeter_Exeleon Magazine

Leaders are no strangers to challenges. Oftentimes, when moments in life are tough and the future is uncertain, it becomes difficult for them to summon the internal fortitude necessary to lead. At the same time, they also understand that difficult circumstances bring the opportunity to redirect the path, reinvent themselves, or to uncover a previously unknown pathway that will help them get over the obstacles.

Then there are those who demonstrate true resiliency and know how to not only maneuver through the uncertainty but also use these situations to their advantage.

Heather Altepeter is one such personality who takes adversities as challenges and comes out stronger after overcoming them. She doesn’t trust the process, instead she defines it and creates spaces previously non-existent.

A Personality to be Revered

In addition to being a progressive leader, Heather is a familiar face in the payments sector.  She is recognized for her skills as a merchant advocate, her passion towards entrepreneurship, and the creative way she handles her business. Mastering all these skills has enabled Heather to penetrate the sector in a new way through National Merchants Association (NMA).

While Heather today stands tall as the Founder and CEO of the organization, her initial plan of creating this venture was a humble one. She wanted to pioneer the creation of a podium for merchant advocacy groups where they could be heard.

Prior to founding the organization, her experience working for the top payment processors helped her realize that the merchants needed a voice that must be heard in the industry.  As a result, she decided to step up and created NMA to be the representation and voice of merchants.

Heather, now with twenty years in the industry, is someone who is recognized as a trendsetter with a strong personality of perseverance who identified a challenge, understood its corners, and bridged the gap by finding the requisite solutions.  She has guided NMA to extraordinary success, including three straight years on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing businesses and collaborations that provide exclusive access to cutting-edge technologies and solutions.

Turning Challenges into Successes

Heather describes her life as a series of trials and tribulations, strong growth and success which she fiercely believes all of those pieces are a part of every entrepreneurial journey.  She asserts, “It has been fun. The journey has certainly been a roller coaster of learning and growth over the last 17 years. With it comes the ups and downs but that’s the life of every successful entrepreneur and business owner.”

According to Heather, leaders who stay ahead enjoy the tumultuous journey and are passionate about it never surrendering to those trials. They take adversities and transform them into goals, pushing their team to be their absolute best during the most challenging moments and lead by example. Heather applies the same traits in her leadership style and oversees everything to deliver the right merchant experience, while empowering her organization to be at its very best.

“As a CEO, I oversee everything, every aspect of the business, while still empowering everyone to be self-sufficient and proactive,” says Altepeter. “We want everyone to enjoy what they do while still feeling challenged. It’s a lifestyle career, not a job. At the end of the day, my job is to make sure everybody and everything is working towards NMA’s vision each and every day.”

Being the CEO, Heather realizes that perseverance is of utmost importance for one to survive and succeed and makes sure to integrate the same thought into her own leadership. She points out that not all CEO’s are entrepreneurs, however all CEO’s are tasked with solving problems with a preemptive strike, staying ahead of issues as much as possible . Perseverance is absolutely critical for anyone to manage a successful company.”

For The Merchants

Being an advocacy group, NMA takes a slightly different approach in delivering the utmost in client satisfaction. From beginning to end, everything and every step the company takes is favored towards merchants and their needs. To Heather, the optimal satisfaction of these merchants means hearing and understanding them, while learning to grow with them. To her, the business is all about forging relationships with the clients and not just providing services for the sake of monetary advantages.

Even in the middle of a global pandemic, as the whole world was turned upside down, Heather not only sought out solutions for NMA but also for the merchants and their resurrection. Hence, during the pandemic, the organization reduced its fees across the board and for the uphill adventure of the post-COVID world, Heather has set up a beneficiary program for the merchants that will ease up their recovery and help them get back on their feet.

“We were impacted because our merchants were impacted. We did a lot to accommodate our entire client base, we waived minimum fees while also reducing fees across the board during COVID.  Now as we are slowly feeling a sense of normalcy, we are introducing a ‘stimulate the economy’ promo, offering zero cost processing services to help our business community recover and get back up even stronger,” shares Heather.

Belief in the Team

Heather Altepeter shares that her biggest challenge so far has been the payment industry’s constant regulatory, federal and state changes. She continues by sharing that all such development comes unannounced and even without considerations for companies in the industry. “Although we lobby and meet with regulators frequently to bring the voice of our merchants to the forefront, we are not heard,” mentions Heather passionately.

Consequently, Heather has to make sure that her organization stays on its feet and abreast with the latest norms and policies. One part of such is having to constantly adapt to the ever-evolving regulatory developments, which affects all the facets of the organization and the customers.

In such challenging times, Heather likes to rely on her employees and considers them the boat that will help her get to the island’s shore. “Due to the simple fact that regulators don’t understand the industry, they should leave it to the experts who do. From these numerous scenarios, what remains constant is this: “You take care of your people, and your people take care of you.

Story Ahead

Heather is excited about the future, describing it as incredibly bright and she has complete faith in her team which has been nothing short of amazing in the industry. She is also looking to expand her team due to the tremendous growth NMA is experiencing including a recent move to Las Vegas.  Most importantly, Heather is looking towards bigger, better and more efficient processes to accommodate her growing lists of merchants.  Their satisfaction along with her endless dedication to their success will allow NMA to continue to dominate the processing world one client at a time.

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