April A. Adams
Adams Administrative Services
Rio Rancho, NM
Interviewed by Bill Willard
Some people are born to business ownership; others come to it after years of trial and error. Still others have business ownership thrust upon them by fate or circumstance. This is the story of that third type of business owner.
The late James G. Kerchner, president of Diversified Solutions, an independent financial services training and support firm in Plymouth, MA, was a marketer par excellence, well-known in financial services industry circles nationwide. Through Diversified Solutions, “Jamie” offered Continuing Education courses for financial services professionals, as well as recruiting tools that assess the success potential of prospective insurance agents and other financial advisors.
Last year, Jamie contracted the inoperable cancer that would kill him January 15, 2008. Thus, tragedy and fate handed Jamie’s assistant, April A. Adams, a business opportunity that she grabbed with both hands, a well-honed work ethic and her considerable entrepreneurial spirit. In so doing, April Adams became the epitome of a Freestyle Entrepreneur.
What follows is the unique story of April’s transition to business ownership, which I explored with her in a recent conversation.
April Adams was born and lived in Massachusetts most of her life. Following 13 years in the administrative field, April studied Graphic Design and Web Building in 1998. After a year in publications & public relations at an insurance company and advertising agency, she joined Diversified Solutions in March 2000. April’s background and experience formed a solid foundation for her eventual purchase of Jamie Kerchner’s Web-based Continuing Education business,
How did your working with Jamie Kerchner come about?
Jamie had placed an ad for a part-time office assistant who could also update and maintain his Web site. When I interviewed with Jamie, he had me complete the Personal Orientation Profile (POP) assessment, which indicated I was the right person to work with him because I’m highly independent, analytical and detail-oriented. I started in March 2000 and was with him until he died in January 2008.
How did your Diversified Solutions duties evolve to the point that you could purchase half the business when Jamie died?
As our working relationship progressed, I went from word processing and answering phones to doing Web design and graphics, eventually converting all of the paper-and-ink training materials of our largest client, Ohio National Insurance Company (ONL), to self-study online programs.
Jamie further prepared me to handle continuing education administration by having me coordinate with 47 states to obtain CE course approvals and renewals of instructor status, as well as maintaining a database of all CE courses taken by some 5,000 ONL producers nationwide and processing Certificates of Completion for each ONL producer who successfully completed a CE course. I also computerized state continuing education forms–all of which familiarized me with CE terminology and the CE process.
When the time came, my company, Adams Administrative Services, was able to step in and continue CE administration for Ohio National.
You might say your benefits management and distance learning experience and Web design and graphic arts studies were smart moves?
Yes, I’d say so! My background before joining Diversified Solutions clearly contributed to my understanding of this business, as I not only worked in employee benefits at Kanawha Benefits Services, I coordinated distance learning programs at Roane State Community College.
Why did you relocate to New Mexico? What was Jamie’s view of that move?
My family and I relocated to New Mexico in March 2007 because we never appreciated harsh New England winters. We also wanted a larger home at a more reasonable price than is available on the East Coast. Before deciding where to go, my fiancé and I completed online questionnaires about our lifestyle preferences, which independently pointed to New Mexico as the ideal location for us.
We made an exploratory trip in February 2006, liked what we saw and are now enjoying Southwestern sunshine 330 days a year! Though, at first, Jamie may have had reservations about working with an employee on the other side of the country, with today’s communications technology, working long distance was never a problem!
What are the needs of CE prospects and how do you meet those needs?
My company’s motto is “We’re here to help.” And as with Ohio National, we benefit by meeting our clients’ CE course needs and administering their CE programs. In addition, we field questions and resolve problems associated with CE functions, freeing up insurance company personnel to do the jobs they were hired to do.
What experience have you had running a small business? How are you coping with the challenges?
Other than having worked for many small businesses, including in Accounts Payable and account service, I knew little about running a small business. I’ve contracted with an accounting service to help me, however, and have been told I’m doing an ‘excellent job’ creating and maintaining the records required to keep a business afloat and on solid ground—to mix a metaphor!
How did your taking over the CE business come about?
Jamie’s widow approached me about taking over the CE business. I confess I was reluctant, but decided to do it because that was the only financially sensible call for me to make.
Although my purchase of Jamie’s CE business was a surprise to me, it apparently was not a surprise to the other people involved. One of my primary contacts told me he expected as much and was pleased with my decision.
How is it going thus far?
Considering my initial lack of confidence? Beyond my wildest expectations! I’m now convinced this has worked out best for everyone concerned, and that we’ve all come out winners. I know I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my professional life
Thank you, April. And may the future hold only the best for you!
In memory of James G. Kerchner, 1945 – 2008, R.I.P.
Bill Willard is a freelance writer in Clearwater FL. He has been a high-impact writer and editor for over 30 years. In addition to his byline pieces, Bill’s beat includes ghostwriting and editing for businesses of all types and sizes, professional practitioners and individuals, and is a www.thefreestyleentrepreneur.com Contributing Author. Visit his Website: www.writergazette.com/WillardAssociates.shtml
Or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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