Barak Zimmerman, CEO, County House Research, Inc
Grab a latte and pull up a chair and join us for a great interview with Barak Zimmerman, CEO, County House Research, Inc
Barak, smiled when I asked what did he do before joining the background screening industry. He said, Believe or not, I was in Israel living and working on a farm. That experience taught me that success isn’t only about hard work. Agriculture teaches you better than just about any other job that work can have very sharp ups and downs. You have to have stamina and be able to stomach quick reversals of fortune. No company makes it to 20 years without highs and lows.
He also shared that before coming in the industry he had just gone through a big transition and was figuring out what to do for work when Russell Campbell, III, who originally founded County House Research, hired him for the summer. Russell was a writer at heart and Barak took over the company after he decided to take a different career path. He sighed and said I guess you never know where your life’s journey will lead you.
Barak, noted that the longstanding relationships that he has developed over the last two decades and the comradeship jump out at him as primary reasons he enjoys this industry. He pondered for a moment and then said, When I was at the NAPBS Annual Conference in Orlando, young people, newer to the industry, thought it was really cool that I had been there at the very beginning. Of course, I thought, “Am I that old?” but looking back it’s that shared history– building and growing an industry with friends–that means the most to me.
Turning the conversation to the company he shared County House Research, Inc. mission:
Our mission is summed up in our motto, “It’s our search too.” That means we strive to treat every client-request as we would want to be treated by a vendor. We measure our success on how well we fulfill this mission. We stake our reputation on our work. The vision is to continue on this path.
Continuing the conversation about the company Barak shared a deep felt sentiment:
Since its founding, County House Research has been focused on one central idea: we sell service. That was true when CHR was a one-man operation with a couple of fax machines, a pager, and a Mercury Sable, and it’s still true. I’ve always invested in technology that helps us provide a better client experience, so adapting our technology is a continuous effort. Even more important is the investment in our team. As we move forward, we will to continue to grow our team in strategic ways so that we can reach even higher levels of service excellence.
In somewhat of a serious tone, Barak said, More and more, our clients are facing a shifting liability landscape. Clients want us to dig deeper and go back further. The only way to do this with the kind of accuracy clients need is to get the physical files from the courthouse. Our team has the experience, knowledge, and the relationships with each particular information resource to get clients the information they need.
Barak continue on to say,I know everyone says their company is like a family, but I truly feel that County House Research comes as close as a company can to that ideal. One of the things I am proudest of is the low turnover on our team. Loyalty runs in both directions. You don’t see that often in the business world today. If someone has a problem, we try as a team to help. We’ve also been able to create opportunities for career growth that are not usually available at companies of our size. Retaining industry experience, expertise, and organizational knowledge is an important factor in our success.
Moving on to my favorite question about the future, without hesitation Barak said, Ultimately, all county records will be available online in some fashion or another. The days of doing basic record checks will be over. We’ll be in the business of verifying information not readily available in the digital records, retrieving documents, and helping our clients understand the information we find. A large part of our business has already moved in this direction. So not too far down the road, we will be an even more intensely service-oriented business, but the underlying principles of service and experience will remain the same.
Pausing and turning the conversation back to him personally, Barak noted that he just started to read Burn Killer, Burn. The book is about a murderer who commits suicide rather than face the death penalty. It’s an autobiographical novel written by Paul Crump while he was a death row inmate. It was published in the early 1960s. he said, It’s a pretty deep read about crime and justice as concepts–very philosophical in its way.
Interesting enough the person who would most like to meet is his grandfather, his dad’s dad. He died before Barak was born and is named after him. His grandfather was a businessman. He owned an army surplus store. Barak reflected as he said I wonder sometimes about what his life in business was like, what kind of advice he might have for me. I think he’d be happy to know that his grandson followed in his footsteps and proud to see what we’ve built at County House Research.
When asked about his favourite quote, he thought for a moment and then said, If I had to pick one, it would be “Hope is a thing with feathers” from Emily Dickinson’s poem. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I actually learned about the quote from Woody Allen’s book Without Feathers. Which is a very funny book, by the way. I even put feathers in CHR mailings. It was my quirky way to connect with people, to give them something to talk about. You have to have plenty of hope to build a business over 20-plus years.T
Thanks to Barak for not only an insightful interview, but a primer on focusing on the customer and we have no doubt that his grandfather would be extremely proud of not only how he runs his business, but also his success.
You can reach out to Barak at bzimmerman@CountyHouseResearch.com.
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