Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.
What do you do and how long have you been doing it? We deliver small-claims notices, summonses and complaints, evictions, subpoenas, foreclosure notices and writs of garnishment. The public calls on us for private serving needs such as landlord-tenant problems or domestic and family issues. However, our main clients are collections agencies, attorneys offices and banking institutions. We don't just knock on the door. If the party has questions, we give them numbers to call, such as for Consumer Credit Counseling or Senior Services. I have been serving for 24 years and have owned Quality Process Serving for 16 years.
How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? We moved here in June 1988 from the Lakewood-Long Beach area in Southern California, where I was raised.
What inspired you to go into this line of work? When we first arrived here, my husband and father started fishing for salmon at Takilma Park. I got hooked and had to find a job that allowed me to fish. I answered an ad in the Mail Tribune for a process server, got hired and have been able to work my own hours ever since.
What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? We grew slowly. When we first started, my brother Ron Coots and I started with a typewriter and carbon paper. Shortly after that, we hired someone to create a database for my brother's Apple computer for $200. I would have acquired a professional serving data base. It would have fulfilled every need, such as billing, employee pay, proofs of service, charts on how long it takes to serve a paper for each employee — a full deal, whereas we had a small database. My brother died in 2004, and I became the sole proprietor. In 2006, I started investigating professional process-serving databases and my life was made so much easier.
What's the toughest business decision you've made? Figuring out whether I was going to stay small or let the business grow as it wanted to. It was growing slowly but surely. We didn't advertise or join the National Association of Process Servers until recently. We were raising grandchildren, so we weren't in a hurry to grow. But we've grown eight-fold in the past 16 years.
Who are your competitors? There are probably four main process servers in Jackson County. Rogue Legal Process in Rogue River and Three Rivers Process Serving in Grants Pass are among them.
What are your goals? I would like to double or triple the business in the next five years. That was our goal by joining NAPS. Collection professionals use that as a resource in tracking down the closest server for their papers. I mainly work in Jackson County, but I do service Josephine County. It's easier to stay in a closer area, but in the next five years I want to do more activity in Josephine County.
What training or education did you need? I had no formal training, except working in a business office. You need to know the laws of civil process, and they are different in each state. You need to learn from an experienced processor. I started out working for Northwest Civil Process Serving Co. in Salem and learned the ropes from their other server in the area. I had Josephine County and she had Jackson County, and that taught me every road in Southern Oregon. I have a lot of people ask me how do you become a process server? When I explain, they just start laughing. If I knew then what I know now, I probably wouldn't have done it. Since we grew slowly, I was able to keep up the educational part and the types of proof of service.
What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? When I started, I did not know I if I was going to be able to talk to people and locate them. Be outgoing and be yourself. Love what you do. That's what I do every day.
To suggest ideas for this column, about businesses that are at least five years old, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.