Which do you consider the most impressive of these facts about Gary Adams? That he played professional football? That he has worked in the industry for 53 years? Or that he has spent all of those 53 years at the same company? Learning more about people like Gary is what makes this series so special and meaningful. Read on to learn more about him, why his daily routine will put yours to shame, and why a no is never a no.
Name: Gary Adams
Current Role: My job is to bring the business to the front door and hand it off to a very qualified group of managers.
Job Title: Executive Vice President
Company: First Collection Services
Length of time at current company: 53 years
Length of time in industry: 53 years
How did you get your start in the industry?
It was January 1970. I was playing football for the Philadelphia Eagles and was back in Little Rock, Arkansas looking for a job during the off-season. The football salaries in those days were not quite what they are today. I walked into the Southwestern Bell Telephone office in Little Rock to speak to the manager about a possible off-season job. Bill Dunkum, who started First Collection Services, was there, making a presentation on his new collection agency. He gave me a business card and said he was looking for someone to help him in sales. I was nice and took his card but had no intentions of working for a collection agency, because I was a professional football player. Working for a collection agency seemed a little below my standards. My dream was to be a college football coach after I finished playing football. I did, however, go to work for an investment company here in Little Rock for the next five months. The following season, I went back to Philadelphia and during one of our games against the Miami Dolphins a guy by the name of Larry Csonka, broke through the line of scrimmage and ran over me as I was trying to tackle him. Ten minutes later — when I woke up, I decided I wanted to be a bill collector.
What is your career highlight so far?
I think the highlight of my career has been selling large gas and electric companies on using First Collections’s services for their collection needs, both first party and third party. Oftentimes, this process takes time. First, I have to sell myself and then sell the benefits of our company. That takes patience and time. Maybe that’s why I have been doing this for 53 years!
When or how are you most productive?
I am most productive when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that First Collections Services will give our clients the results and service they expect and deserve plus a little bit more. When we do that, I am most productive.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
In this business it’s a team effort. I can’t say there is any one professional who I admire the most. I admire our whole team at First Collection Services. It takes us all to perform for our clients.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I would never say I am doing something better than anyone else, but one thing is that I never ever give up. I seem to never hear the word NO! A NO is a maybe .
What do you like most about this industry?
I like the fact that this is a very needed industry. An executive of a large gas and electric company told me 53 years ago that as long as companies send out invoices or statements, those companies will always need assistance with their receivables.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I would be a college football coach. I played football for three years for coach Frank Broyles at Arkansas and played in the All-American game in Tampa and had Bear Bryant as my coach. Coach Broyles and my high school coach, Carl Williams, had a tremendous influence on me and my life, as did coach Johnny Majors, who was my position coach at Arkansas. I wanted to be like them and have a positive influence on young men’s lives, just as they had done for me. Of course, had I gone into coaching I would be retired by now.
Describe a typical work day
I wake up Monday to Friday at 3:45 AM and go the gym to work out with two of my friends. We work out from 4 to 5:15. From 5:30 to 6:30 I am back home, have coffee, a light breakfast, and read the daily newspaper. Most mornings I spend 15-to-20 minutes reading the Bible and letting God know how blessed I am. Usually by 8:00 I’m out the door and headed to the office which is a 15-minute drive. I spend about 70% of the day in the office and 30% outside the office. On Saturday mornings I am on the golf course with my golf buddies. After that I either spend some time with my grandchildren, who only live five minutes away, or I’m doing some chores around the house (mostly yard work). On Sunday mornings I go to church, and after church, it’s golf once more.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I really don’t know that I have one.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
I got this advice from my mother, who loved to sell. She was a sales lady for Stanley Home Products. Her advice to me was as long as you have a good service or product to sell, there is never a reason not to have money in your pocket. I think about that every time I’m out, trying to sell our service to a potential prospect.
What are you currently reading?
“Life Is All About Relationships” written by Rod Strohl. Rod is a good friend and was a client for many years before he retired from Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages. I also spend time reading the Bible, which oftentimes is very difficult to interpret.
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
It is not just people in the industry but everyone who I have contact with. From current clients to non-clients, and even competitors, I will treat them at all times with dignity and respect. I also want them to know that I am very competitive. I am not a quitter. When things get difficult, I get stronger.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
John Dunkum, Vice President, Sales, First Collection Services