As a journalist, writing coach, and magazine editor, I have worked with hundreds of CEOs and business people. I recently got this opportunity to interview Mr. Wallace Davis, Founder and the central figure behind Peopletrail and many other startups in the background screening industry.
Here are the top Q & As I got to ask Mr. Wallace.
Tell us about our company. What does Peopletrail do?
Peopletrail is a Consumer reporting agency (CRA). CRAs collect information about individuals and provide reports used to decide whether or not to extend credit, insurance, or employment to consumers. Credit reporting has been around for a long time. However, in the wake of the 9/11 World Trade Center disaster, companies have begun looking into the background of job candidates, vetting them to provide a safer workplace. Peopletrail and the screening industry are primarily responsible for compiling these investigative reports for employers. CRAs manage the investigative, researching, and reporting functions associated with each employee screening.
Tell us about your professional journey. What led you to this point?
I’ve always viewed my work through an entrepreneurial lens, even when I worked for someone else. Eighteen years ago, an opportunity presented itself; I took a risk for a significant equity play and left my comfortable sales position. That was the birth of Peopletrail, my own business, and I haven’t looked back since. I naturally gravitated toward sales jobs because I was paid directly for what I produced. Worked hard, obtained a master’s degree in business, and kept my eye open for an opportunity to break out independently. I didn’t seek out this specific industry.
Just happened to be working in sales for the “industry monster” and seized upon an opportunity. I had the knowledge, experience, and advanced schooling behind me, so I was prepared to act when the opportunity presented itself. Developed a great passion for this industry. I think that’s an essential part of being successful. I know some confident solo performers can make things happen by themselves. Still, to take a business venture or idea to the next level, you need to surround yourself with successful, like-minded people that inspire.
What makes you successful as a CEO at Peopletrail?
Technology utilization and integration represent a considerable part of our business success. Integrating our customer’s Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) systems has brought tremendous success to Peopletrail. Integration is the key to growth and connecting with the larger client organizations. When we have found ways to join our technology with our clients, integrating with their systems has provided us with a significant advantage. It bonds us to them. It makes communicating and working with our systems much easier for them. Security and our dedicated account management teams are integral in our technology pursuits.
We gained valuable information in one of our most recent integrations with a vast client’s applicant tracking system. Because of the time and money they saved by integrating, they could send much more business our way. It turned out we had additional products that could be utilized through the integration efficiencies that we were not previously providing. We were able to consolidate their vendors, creating valuable efficiencies. This proved to be a win-win for us and our client. Our teams must know the client, have an acute understanding of the technology, and bring everything together, governing all the facets of the entire process, thus making us confident we are speaking the same language as our customers.
Describe your current role in the company and your significant achievements during COVID times?
When COVID hit, as President/CEO, I wanted to make sure we kept the human touch. Technology is secondary to a face-to-face experience. We pride ourselves on bringing the human touch to every report, management decision, and client relationship. Providing the human touch and personalized care is at our core. It’s always been there; it will always be a critical component of our business identity. It’s who we are. This personalized touch has brought Peopletrail to the forefront today as one of the leading and fastest-growing providers of background and screening services in our industry.
How do you deal with unexpected events while client service delivery?
It’s hard work. Our compliance team is primarily responsible for overseeing all state and federal laws to ensure we know every new piece of legislation that comes up on the docket. If there are laws that we need to make our clients aware of or internal processes that need to be changed to remain compliant, we have a strict approach to get those things done. You could say the only thing consistent about our business is that things will eventually change. Internal audits, documented procedures, communicating feedback directly to each department are essential.
How would you describe your management style?
It’s more of a culture than a style. At our core stems this simple yet often undervalued and seldom implemented philosophy in business, that PEOPLE must be part of the process. Not only customers and vendors but employees and families. This is where the human touch permeates the Peopletrail culture.
Do you have any favorite books or authors?
Malcolm Gladwell’s book David and Goliath where highlights underdogs. He presents the idea that misfits aren’t always as miraculous as they seem when they come out on top. While appearing as the weaker opponent, they are usually as capable and sometimes even more equipped than their famous rival.
Where do you see Peopletrail in the next 5 years?
The number of providers will shrink significantly while demand for Peopletrail’s services continues to rise. Typically, the larger companies acquire the more minor and midsized companies. The larger and midsized companies will likely serve the entire market, much like what happened with Wal-Mart. They came in and took over the small mom-and-pop shops. Honestly, that is where we’re going in many of the same ways. If we continue to innovate, taking advantage of leading-edge technology along with our human touch, we will be well-poised to make a significant contribution to the industry.
Thank you, Mr. Davis, for your valuable time and insights, and I look forward to interviewing him again next year.