I found out this morning that my friend, mentor and Godfather of the Recovery Industry, Harvey Altes, has passed away. I know there has never been anyone who has done more in our beloved industry than Harvey, but it is not just the industry that owes this man a debt. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of those who have been individually graced by the influence of Harvey. They all have their own stories to tell. This one is mine.
It starts almost 30 years ago. I was still working for World Omni in Deerfield Beach, Florida when my phone rang and it was Rusty Ansel on the other end of the line. He said that Harvey had heard of me and wanted to know if I would come to Orlando, Florida for the upcoming TFA Convention and speak. At the time I was very full of myself. (Yeah, I know – hard to believe!) I agreed to go thinking that I could teach people a few things. I later learned what an honor it was to be invited, since clients weren’t welcome at TFA meetings, which were generally for members only.
After speaking for about an hour at the event Harvey walked up to me and said, “Good job Kid.” I was invited to sit at his table for lunch where he began to educate me on the business and on life in general. At the moment I may have failed to fully appreciate what was about to become a turning point in my life.
A couple days later I was sitting pool-side in the evening at the Embassy Suites in Orlando Florida with Ron Brown, Millard Land, Rusty Ansel, and of course, Harvey. He looked at me and said “Kid, you will never make any money finding skips while working for someone else.” He then proffered the idea that I should own my own Skip-Tracing company. For various cold, hard facts at the time this seemed like an unreachable dream to me, so I listed what I considered to be impossible hurdles. But Harvey was a dream-maker who saw the big picture, so with the wisdom and patience needed to deal with a kid in need of some guidance, he stopped me there, and said, “Oh, we can help you with that. And how about we set you up as the first skip-tracer in history to ever be in one of the trade associations?” Following Harvey’s lead, each one of those men present that night spoke up and offered help with clients, money and everything in between. They all became my mentors and helped to shape my life and career going forward. Later that evening I spoke to my wife at length in our hotel room and left World Omni the following Monday to see where this new path would lead.
Over the next several months and years I received a call every day from one of the men in that initial meeting. And Harvey himself called each Friday afternoon, wanting to know how much money came in, how many clients I solicited that week, how many skips I found, what I was charging. Perhaps most importantly, he asked how much I put in savings for when business slowed down, because as he warned me, “It always slows down Kid!”
One day I was asked to speak before a group that I did not really know much about, so I called and asked Harvey’s advice. His reply became one of my favorite Harvey-isms: “Kid, just make sure they spell your name right on the check.”
Those lessons never stopped. A couple months ago for what would turn out to be our last conversation we spoke at great length about the industry and where it was heading his mind still sharp as ever. Obviously I was well beyond anyone’s perception of a child, and yet he still called me ‘Kid’. I was, and will always be, his “kid”.
Harvey’s foresight and determination to grow this industry caused him to influence many who needed and benefited from his guidance. As I said at the beginning there are hundreds of stories, and this is mine. I can see him in heaven now, organizing a group of people and holding court with a cigar in his hand. Lord, take care of The Godfather until we meet again. R.I.P. Harvey Altes I hope I made you proud! The Altes family is my family and they will forever be in my prayers.
I have no words to describe my feelings today, so I went to my bible as I do in times of sorrow and happiness. It always has an answer for me.
Corinthians 5:6-8: So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
Alex Price is a nationally-recognized expert on the Art of Skip Tracing. Author of Skip Tracers National Certification Program, The Ultimate Florida Records Guide, The Military Installations Guide and blogger with over 25+ years of experience in skip-tracing, collections and public speaking.
Alex Price has become a highly sought-after speaker in the auto recovery, bail enforcement and financial service industries. He combines old school skip-tracing methods with new age cyber-tracking technology to equip attendees with tools that he gained through invaluable experience. He balances the hard facts about skips with just the right amount of humor and a touch of southern charm.
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