Sherri Ervin, Owner, The Public Record Source LLC
Grab a latte and pull up a chair and join us for a great interview with Sherri Ervin, Owner, The Public Record Source LLC.
Sherri, got involved in court research for over 20 years ago. At the time, it was a relatively new and rapidly growing industry. Having an investigative nature she enjoyed legal work, however, she noted that she’s not really wired to work for a boss so she took the risk to venture out on her own. She started Public Record Source (TPRS) to provide court research services throughout Arizona.
With somewhat of a smile on her face she said “Unfortunately, the decision to start her own company was not particularly well received by many of her friends and family.” They said “Why take such a risk when you have kids. Working for a big company has security, but where’s the security in the company you are starting?” Well, Sherri, got the best of them on this one, because here she is, over 20 years later, and her company has seen more success than she ever dreamed. She proudly, exclaimed. “her staff and her work extremely hard, and there’s no better feeling than seeing that hard work turn into success.”
In responding to the question about what she did before you started her company, Sherri shared that she was adopted, and because of this she always has been interested in adoption investigations and helping parties of adoption find birth parents or biological siblings. In the early 1990’s, she worked with the Arizona Supreme Court to develop the Confidential Intermediary Program. The Confidential Intermediary Program certifies Confidential Intermediaries (CIs) to help facilitate contact between parties of an adoption and siblings separated as a result of adoption. These CIs are provided access to court records in order to obtain information necessary to locate the sought after party. It was very rewarding to see the project enacted into law and even expanded over the years.
One of the things she really likes about the industry is that despite times changing and companies changing the same cast of characters always seem to be involved in the industry. She added, “ There have been times that I’ve gone a decade without speaking to a particular person (maybe they changed companies, tried out a different industry, or no longer interacted with vendors) only to run into that person at an industry event. Because of this, there’s a community that simply doesn’t exist in many, if not most, other industries.”
Turning the dialogue to her company she share that the mission of her company: ”The mission of TPRS is to set a standard of quality and reliability that regardless of the circumstances or difficulty we do not waver from. We strive to remind our researchers and other staff what the point of our job is. Quite literally, a person’s job depends on the quality and accuracy of our work. We do not take that responsibility lightly. In this same vein, our vision is to ultimately grow as the most trusted source of hands-on court research in the State of Arizona.”
With regards to announcements noted that “At TPRS, we love to embrace technology and stay on the cutting edge to help deliver better products to our customers. For example, while there are several industry-standard background-screening platforms on the market, we decided to go in a different direction and develop our own proprietary system. Because our in-house system is XML based, it is still fully capable of integrating with all other XML platforms used by our clients, however, we’ve added additional functionality to help set us apart. For instance, we’ve integrated cloud technology so that within seconds of a researcher completing a search or reviewing a record at the court, we have all the information available back at our office so that it can be quickly reviewed and returned to the client. This cloud-based system has greatly cut down on our turnaround time.”
Talking further about the company she said, “ Although it may be becoming a lost art, all of our searches are performed in court by extensively trained court researchers. More and more, there seems to be a reliance on online-based court indexes, and while these may be perfectly accurate in other states, we know that is not the case in Arizona. In-person court research is the only effective way to perform court research in Arizona, and that’s all we provide. Because we’ve had researchers physically present at the courts for so many years, we are able to get certain information regarding records that may have errors or other abnormalities because we have established a rapport with court staff throughout the valley.”
She added that “Client satisfaction is always the company’s priority. We pride ourselves on our flexibility to satisfy our clients’ needs – whether this means providing document retrieval services for pre-screened searches, expanding our search scope, retrieving municipal and civil records, providing expedited searches, etc. – we’re always there to answer the bell.”
Turning her attention to my favorite question about what she sees the industry facing down the road she noted that the answer goes beyond just the background screening industry with the “Big Data” revolution becoming more and more a part of everyday life, and it’s hard to see how it won’t ultimately envelope the background screening industry entirely. Corporations have a clear incentive to use whatever means possible to best select candidates for open positions, and before long the big data analytic tools will likely utilize real-time access to court information as just another element of this analysis. The only question will be whether these well-funded Big Data companies will be able to convince enough states, counties, or other municipalities to provide real-time case information. With enough money, she says she wouldn’t bet against it.
Moving the conversation to her personally she shared that Atticus Finch was always a hero of hers; so hearing that Harper Lee’s family was releasing ‘Go Set A Watchman’ had her thrilled. She of course bought it immediately and dove in. She share that “While she can understand some of the criticisms it has received, she thoroughly enjoyed the novel, noting that sometimes our heroes need to be humanized. They need to be given flaws and shortcomings. Even the great Atticus Finch has these. And sometimes we need a thing as jarring as a hero’s fall from grace to wake us and cause us to start asking tough questions that we otherwise try to ignore. For her the Watchman does this quite well.”
The person she would like to meet Bob Dylan and took the liberty of adding she would like to meet him now as 1965 Bob Dylan. She chuckles saying” I mean, the voice of a generation must have at least a few stories to tell…”
Finally, when asked about her favorite quote she said ‘I have never had much interest in doing things the way that we’re told that they’re supposed to be done, Robert Frost famous quote has always been special to me: “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Thank you to Sherri for a very personal, insightful and provocative interview.
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