“21 Years in the Business and Still Cares” – 10/2005 Featured article from the Bankers Insurance Publication.
I don’t get a chance to get out of the office that much to meet our bail bond agents so when I was asked if I wanted to I grabbed at the chance. We went to Action Plus Bail Bonds located in Pinellas County. I had the pleasure of meeting the owner Frank Kopczynski and his wife, Mary Jo who works with him in their office. They are both amazing individuals. I never met people more concerned about an individual in trouble and truly wanted to help them.
Action Plus Bail Bonds has been affiliated with Bankers for some 17 years. After talking with Frank and getting some insight on his job I asked if he would mind answering some questions for an article for our newsletter. He graciously agreed.
Here are the questions and answers. See what you think.
Q: What did you do before you got into the business?
A: I worked as a hospital administrator and vice president of managed facilities for two national companies primarily turning around dead or dying hospitals.
Q: How did you get started in the bail business?
A: My last job was in New Jersey running one of the largest hospital complexes in the US. My family was still living in Florida because we didn’t know if the county would renew our contract. They didn’t but asked me to stay on. Although we made great strides in turning the facility around the work was wearing me down and missed my family in Florida.
My daughter was working at Bankers at the time in the bail department as a temp and her boss asked if I had ever thought of being a bail agent. Although when I got my masters bail was a third choice behind running a teaching hospital and my second choice behind being a full time Vandal but I could never keep my priorities in order and I burned the villages before plundering them.
So I decided to give it a try and got my license while still working at the medical complex. Once I became licensed I quit my job and headed back to Florida. Luckily I found my current office and rented it still not quite sure where the jail was and got into the yellow pages just a scant two days before the deadline. I did some consulting but decided to give my bail business my full attention. I did everything and if I had been paid by the hour I would have been rolling in dough since I was putting in 12 to 16 hour a day.
I learned some hard lessons during those days but I also learned that God meant for me to be my own boss.
Q: Have you learned from any missteps that may have occurred along the way? If so, what was the one that stood out the most?
A: Entrusting one of my peers to find a skip I couldn’t locate. He really saw me coming. However he is no longer in bail and it did force me to take a P.I. course taught by a former warrants deputy. As a result I found that I had a gift for locating skips and have been doing so every since.
Q: Do you have any advice for someone entering the bail bond business?
A: Yes…unless you want a limited career of five to ten years, have a good business back ground and substantial financial backing…don’t. I don’t see Bail as we know it now lasting much longer and if you have no business skills your career will definitely be short lived.
Q: What committees are you involved with?
A: Families Against Mandatory Minimums, National Alliance of the Mentally Ill, The Pinellas Domestic Violence Task Force, Pinellas Ex-offender Re-entry Coalition as well as working with Pasco, Hillsborough and Charlotte Counties to establish their groups.
I also lecture at the Eckerd College Elder Hostel Program, as well as doing speaking engagements for around the state for L.E.A.P (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) and talk to local police departments, public defenders and schools about Bail. I also host my own show, the Criminal Justice Forum, which will soon be PodCast and hopefully syndicated.
Q: Would you recommend others to get involved?
A: The general thinking in the past was to get involved sponsoring law enforcement sports, or giving financial aid to groups such as MADD, STOP or political candidates. Political candidates would be my first choice. But each agent should give great thought as to where the power lies in their community before they commit their resources. And if the agent is just starting out, your personal time is as good as money. I have found that doing both is most effective.
Q: What do you see yourself doing in the next ten years?
A: Working to add value to my business, continuing with the show and expanding into related fields.
Q: When you bail someone out, do you try to make a difference with the individual and/or their family?
A: Absolutely! Bail is an invisible purchase. You can’t smell, taste, or feel it. You also only have 90 seconds to reassure the client that he or she has made the right decision in choosing you.
You have the rest of the time the client is out on bail to convince the family to use you again or refer you to another potential client. I have found that knowing that we helped make someone’s life better will make any of the bad things we may encounter pale in comparison.
Q: You have been doing business with BIC for 17 years, how would you describe this longtime relationship?
A: We stayed with the same general Agent through three different companies in the first four years of business. Other than the man who originally brought me into the industry Mr. Harry Hamner, a class act, to whom I owe a great deal, everyone after him were at a minimum indifferent and often very rude. I often wondered what had I done to deserve to be treated in such a shabby manner.
Ironically when he heard I had signed with Bankers I was finally visited by my G.A. who I had never seen or spoken with in the four years I was his agent. I had no idea who he was. Yes, it took being with other companies to really appreciate being a Banker’s agent. BIC has been incredibly helpful and its officers have been incredibly generous with their time, advice and support. I can honestly say these folks are a class act.
Q: If you could, what would you like to see change in the bail industry?
A: Agents allowed to form a structure to police themselves. Better screening of who may be accepted into bail training. Bad agents who leave a financial mess barred from going with another company until he has made total restitution. An industry wide PR campaign.
I would like to say something nice about our state bail associations but my mother said if you can’t say anything good don’t say anything at all.
Well…they are consistent.