From Sole Proprietor to Corporation. Why?



The huge image is the new logo at Spencer Elrod Services, Inc., our new investigations company. I’m a bit embarrassed to say I don’t know all the historical significance of the Knights Templar, but it looks cool. Cooler than the hackneyed fedora silhouette, magnifying glass shtick, trench coats and all the other worn PI images. (Apparently, it was the symbol of the first private investigators in Europe.)

My partner, Jeremy Elrod, not only suggested the new image but was the one who approached me about going into business together. I would not likely have considered the idea if it came from anyone else. I have been pretty comfortable in the job as a sole proprietor these last 14 years but that is precisely why it’s time for a kick in the tuckus.

“You don’t get the house on the hill just doing your own work,” he told me. He’s right. I don’t necessarily want the house on the hill but I definitely want to improve financially. I look back at my life at the bench marks: school, first job, graduate school, opening a business, getting married. I felt like my benchmarks, professionally speaking, had flat-lined a bit. I’m at the half-way point, time to kick it up a few notches.

I broached the partnership/corporation idea in a private investigator group. The negative reactions surprised me. But, I am big believer in my instincts about people and am rarely wrong. I have known Jeremy since we played rugby together many years ago. Rugby and team situations give you insight into someone’s character; you know who will practice hard and play hard in a match. Jeremy then went on to serve our country as an Army ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He brings a business background. I bring a good understanding of private investigations and the work that attorneys want to help them win. We have a certain overlap in broad categories such as surveillance, interviewing witnesses and understanding how people and businesses can get burned. We want to build something.

The first year has been sort of a trial. But I have already seen the benefits. In high-risk service of legal process, he has literally had my back in bad parts of East Oakland. I have seen Jeremy stay up nearly two days straight tracking a subject from The Bay Area to Anaheim. We have had fruitful interviews of key witnesses in wrongful death cases. We have produced timely results and positive outcomes.

Our personalities are different. He is more of a doer and visionary; I am the communicator, daily manager and plodder. We are both big believers in team and want to build a company that will attract great talent to help our clients. We both place high expectations on ourselves.

Why do this? There must be something in the human spirit that wants us to grow, create, build and nurture. If you don’t risk anything you risk even more.