Earlier this month we sat down with Wholesale Screening Solutions founder and president, Matt Lowers. His story began over ten years ago when he identified an unfilled need among CRAs in the background screening industry. It continues today as Wholesale Screening Solutions was recently named among the Inc. 500 fastest growing privately held companies in America. His story and his leadership inspire our company to continue to innovate and drive toward perfection in an industry that some would consider a mere commodity.
Q. What do you see as the most notable trends impacting the public records research industry today?
There are three key trends that come to mind. First, alarming and concerning, is the real and perceived increase in litigation. This trend has evolved from the fear of litigation due to missing a criminal record that should have been provided to the fear of providing a record that should not have been provided, either because the record should not be associated with the subject or should not have been provided due to some legal restriction or limitation with respect to providing the record.
The second trend I see exacerbates the first. It involves jurisdictions that remove identifiers from the public index in an effort to protect the applicant’s privacy or identity. While often well-intentioned, this trend is making it harder for public records researchers to provide accurate search results. So, the very thing that the courts and legislatures put in place to protect individuals with public records actually harms them because it adversely affects the accuracy of a public record search result.
A third trend is the commoditization of the industry. We see new companies entering the space and existing companies operating in the space offering public record research services with low cost as their only selling point. Procurement rightly deserves a pat on the back for appropriately twisting a supplier’s arm on pricing, but if something bad happens, it really matters who you’re using. Does your criminal record research provider have defensible, well-documented processes in place? Do they really understand what’s going on in each jurisdiction they provide research in? It quickly becomes a case of “it doesn’t matter until it does.” And then it really does. Often, start-ups or lowest-price suppliers just don’t have the business acumen to meet the increasingly complex requirements of their customers. When it comes to protecting your customer’s and your own brand and profits, it really does make a difference who you choose as your public record research provider.
Q. What is Wholesale Screening Solutions doing to keep pace with those trends?
We have to be very proactive. Our leadership team has successfully worked with legislators and court administrators on behalf of our CRA customers and their end-user customers to ensure our collective industry can continue to deliver and rely on quality, accurate information. Our people have taken active leadership roles within NAPBS to maintain and improve access to identifiers contained in public records in courthouses around the country.
Beyond this, we have made significant and on-going investments in proprietary technologies and to provide customers with additional confidence in the quality and accuracy of the public record research we provide.
Probably the most important thing we’ve done is enhanced the transparency into our research that we provide to our customers. Letting our CRA customers know exactly what is happening across the jurisdictions we serve and what our capabilities are as a result.
And of course, as we’ve written about time and again on this blog, we have rigorous operating processes and quality controls in place to ensure we continue to deliver competitive pricing alongside quality data and predictable turnarounds.
Q. To what do you attribute the success of Wholesale Screening Solutions?
It’s incredible to think that I started this company a little over 10 years ago as a one-man shop. I was the one man; I performed all the research, all of the marketing, all of the compliance, everything. This gave me very clear insight into how I wanted to build the company and what skill sets would be needed by teammates.
During this time, I continued to seek the input of leaders in the CRA space to further understand the needs of my customers. I quickly set out from there to build a team consisting of background screening industry veterans and thought leaders. I sought leaders from the CRA industry purposely, to better bring our customers’ perspective to our decision-making that I knew we would need to successfully address the needs of that market. I brought in experts in marketing, sales, operations, quality, technology, legal, compliance, customer service, vendor management, business processes, and more; and bit by bit together we built the company you see today. Collectively, we saw an opportunity where a marketplace could and should expect more from their supplier network.
Despite the challenges inherent in the industry, Lowers’ drive for innovation, perfection, and industry dominance hasn’t waned. Stay tuned as Wholesale Screening Solutions success continues to unfold.