Today, our Employee Spotlight is on company founder and CEO John Kinskey!
How did AccessDirect begin?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. My father worked for his dad’s milk production plant, The Ideal Milk Company, in Portsmouth, Ohio. My father sold out to his brother and went on a nationwide search for his own dairy company by placing ads in trade journals and conducting on-site visits. He ended up buying the Jersey Creamery in Sheridan, Wyoming and moving his wife and eight kids to Wyoming in 1963. As an outlet for his milk, and as another new business venture, he bought three corner groceries at a sheriff’s auction in 1968, literally bidding on the courthouse steps in Casper, Wyoming. He eventually sold the creamery and built those three stores into a 116-location convenience store chain in seven Western states. Rodney Kinskey sold Mini Mart, Inc. to Kroger in 1987.
Feeling stuck on the corporate ladder in a big corporation, I eventually followed my father’s lead and began looking for a business of my own. The hard part was, what? So, to conduct a broad search I sent out a personal and confidential mailing to 1,200 small businesses in Kansas City asking the owners if they were interested in partnering or selling. The key was the list contained only those owners 55 years and older. I received 75 phone calls and conducted onsite visits with 35 different businesses. As I sat in the lobby of an answering service reading a trade journal I saw an article on voicemail services. I looked up the author on the Internet and attended his seminar in Florida on how to start a voicemail service bureau. That was in 1996, as the Telecom Deregulation Act was kicking in. Well, at that seminar all the bells and whistles went off. I loved technology and the newly deregulated landscape of telecom, and I saw a niche in voicemail. So I installed a T1 line and voicemail server in my basement and began selling. Eventually AccessDirect moved to an office building and installed the servers in a secure, monitored telecommunications switch room. AccessDirect has continued to excel as a niche provider of telecommunication services over the past fifteen years.
What’s your favorite part of your workday?
I get great satisfaction out of helping customers, particularly after hours or on a holiday when they feel stuck and need help. Often times those customers are reluctant and apologetic about leaving an emergency message and disrupting someone else’s evening or holiday, but they really need to make a change or fix an issue with their AccessDirect program. It is gratifying to call them and help them change their greeting or ensure they are receiving their voice messages in their email, so that they don’t miss any business opportunities; I know what it’s like during the early days of building a business and know how important it is to their livelihood. The warmth and appreciation that our customers show for our brand of customer service is gratifying.
What would be a dream vacation for you?
Relaxing on the beach at a Caribbean resort watching the sun come up as I sip on a strong cup of coffee. The crystal blue water, white sand, great food…hard to beat. And of course they better have Wi-Fi!!
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to exercise… golf, bicycling, tennis, weights. I recently bought a Harley Davidson. I enjoy the acceleration and the wind in my face on a windy country road on a beautiful fall day.
Thanks, John, for being this week’s Employee Spotlight!