Collector - August 2018 - 18

A CLOSER LOOK:
JACK BROWN III
AGE: 39
POSITION:
President, Gulf Coast Collection
Bureau; president, Law Offices of
Jack W. Brown, P.L.
PREVIOUS JOB:
Vice president of legal operations,
compliance counsel, Gulf Coast
Collection Bureau
EDUCATION:
Florida State University, B.S. in
business management; Stetson
University College of Law, J.D.
and MBA
FAMILY:
Wife Leah, a nurse; daughter
Elizabeth (16) and son Kai (14)
PROFESSIONAL MENTORS:
My dad, Jack Brown II,
and ACA past presidents
John Rockhill and Leslie Bender

18

"In the summer when my dad would go
to the office, he'd drop me off at a bridge
in Siesta Key to fish in the morning and
pick me up at the end of the day on his way
home," Brown said.
His father eventually sold Certified Credit
to a local bank and helped expand its book
of business, and then purchased Gulf Coast
Collection Bureau in 1997, just as Brown
headed off to study business management at
Florida State University in Tallahassee.
And while his passion for the ocean
continued unabated, Brown always knew
that after graduation he'd return to Sarasota
to work at the agency-which he did in
2000, just after taking the LSAT law school
aptitude test. He tried out a few different
roles in the company, but found he had a
knack for developing what he calls "a sincere
and intentional focus on compliance."
"At the time we were involved in a few
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and
Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act
violation suits, and it wasn't making sense
to us," Brown said. "These were technical
violations with no damage or harm to the
consumers, yet both sides were spending
a lot of money on attorney's fees. At that
point I thought it'd be a good idea to go to
law school to explore these issues, as well
as licensing issues that were popping up at
the time as states expanded their licensing
requirements."
Brown earned his law degree from
Stetson University College of Law in 2004
and continued to work for Gulf Coast, first
as its compliance counsel and later as the
vice president of legal operations, while
simultaneously running his own collection
law firm.
His first year as a lawyer was a learning
experience, he recalls, but he gradually got
comfortable speaking to judges, presenting
cases and getting accounts resolved, and his
firm started growing.
Then his father announced he was ready
to retire.
The family shopped Gulf Coast around
to buyers, but they knew there was more
value in it than they could demonstrate. By
that time Brown's sister was settled in her

career as a teacher, so in 2013, Brown pulled
back some of his legal work and bought the
agency from his father.
"It was kind of a unique succession
because from the beginning he gave me full
authority to run the company as I see fit.
He's always there for counsel and advice, but
unless I ask he doesn't offer," Brown said. "He
basically threw me the keys to the car and
said, 'Good luck!'"
The leadership transition went smoothly,
though he acknowledged there were
certainly questions from the executive team,
who were concerned Brown, then 34, was
too young for the role. (For context, the
average age of a CEO is 58, according to
advisory firm Korn Ferry.)
The family found a creative solution
to this problem. Before the elder Brown
stepped down, he hired the president of one
of the companies that had been looking to
purchase Gulf Coast to serve as its new chief
financial officer.
"He and I hit it off and had a very good
relationship, and when my dad retired he
helped us transition the leadership over and
then he stayed on another two years until
he decided to move to Texas to start his
own company," Brown said. "He was the gobetween for me and the leadership team, and
helped get their buy-in."
Today Brown still has his law firm but the
majority of his time is spent with Gulf Coast.
The company has grown steadily under his
leadership, from 32 employees in 2013 to 78
today, thanks in part to two acquisitions as
well as incredibly solid relationships with his
staff and clients.
"We're focused on doing things the right
way, and making the right decisions for
clients and the company," he said. "And when
good opportunities come along, we'll do our
best to take advantage of them."
This attitude has not gone unnoticed by
his peers.
"When asked by a client or prospect
to recommend another agency, Jack's
company is one of the first that comes to
mind as I have complete confidence that he
operates in a compliant manner, truly values
the partnerships he has with his clients,

ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG


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