VOL. 123 | NO. 63 | Monday, March 31, 2008
Memphis Small Business Spotlight
Memphis Process Server Goes Where Few Women Go
READY FOR WORK: Georgette Brooks owns Amber One Process Serving, a woman-owned process-serving business in Memphis. -- Photo By Rosalind Guy
Amber One Process Serving
Address: 3540 Summer Ave.
Owner: Georgette Brooks
Georgette Brooks has always wanted to do something in the legal field.
A former respiratory therapist, Brooks started in the legal field 10 years ago, working with her uncle as a bail bondsmen at his company, Brooks Bail Bonding Co. in Downtown.
But for the past couple of years, she has run her own process-serving business - one of the few woman-owned firms in the city, she said. Brooks started Amber One Process Serving two years ago.
In her blood
Deciding to make the leap into owning a business was not difficult, Brooks said, as she comes from a long line of entrepreneurs.
"I think I've always had something in me that motivated me to want to have my own business," she said. "I come from a line of business owners, if you will. My parents own a day care, my grandfather owned a small farm, my great-great-grandfather, who was a minister here years ago, owned a malt stand Downtown and was over a church. So it, as they say, was in my blood a little bit."
But in the beginning, as she tried to garner business and get her name out, there were times when she didn't know how she would pay for the next tank of gas.
"I served for another company where I made $14 a paper and only $3 if I didn't get it served," Brooks said. "There were a lot of days when I didn't know where the next fill-up was going to come from. Process servers drive all day every day, so gas is an issue."
Brooks starts most mornings well before dawn, with a pistol on her hip and a badge showing she is a sworn officer of the court system.
The pistol, she said, is not to protect her from the people she's serving, but rather anyone in those communities who may see her as a possible target.
"When I go out, I go out on my own," Brooks said. "I start serving between 4 and 4:30 in the morning. ... Most women are with their husbands or something like that. I think that's the difference between myself and them.
"Also, I am one of the few women who does it by herself and does it full-time. I don't have another job to back me up; this is what I do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."
Brooks, along with five other Memphis-area process servers, are licensed through the Shelby County Court system to serve its papers.
"We serve subpoenas, any kind of summons, child-support papers, divorce papers, warrants; we do what they call writs, which is when someone is being put out of their home," she said. "We serve those and we do the set outs (when people are evicted). We also do repos on furniture, like if someone has not paid their furniture bill, they get served by the court and told to turn it over."
Though she's packing heat, Brooks said that doesn't affect her attitude when she shows up at the home of a person she is serving, whether it is 4 a.m. or 10 p.m. Instead, she said her goal is to show everyone respect with the hope that she will, in turn, get the same treatment.
"I treat everyone with respect," she said. "Just because someone does not pay their bill, that does not mean that you treat them like a criminal, and I'm not insinuating that anyone does. I try my best to treat everyone with respect. I feel like if you give it, you'll get it."
One problem Brooks doesn't run into is mistaken identity. She said when she serves papers, there is plenty of identifying information on the person being served.
"If I'm serving you," she said, "believe you me, we've got all of your court information. You can be found."
But one problem Brooks said she sometimes runs into is when a business owner attempts to prevent her from serving a person at work. That, she said, is a problem.
"It's against Tennessee statute to resist an officer in serving process or to get in the way of someone serving process," she said.
So far, Brooks said she has only had to call the Memphis Police Department once to complete a serve when a business owner was trying to prevent her from doing the job.