Court Reporting business for sale
Debbie Weaver, 52, president of ">Midwest Litigation Services and Midwest Trial Services, 711 North 11th Street.
FAMILY • Married to Robert Dear, who works for Weaver's company in the production and delivery departments. They live in Columbia, Ill. She has four children and two stepchildren. Her children are Adam, 25, who works for her company in the Kansas City office; Evan, 24, who also works for the company in Kansas City; Erin, 19, a student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City; and Alex, 17, a student at Jerseyville High School. Stepchildren are Christopher Dear, 19, a student at Truman State University; and Kevin Dear, 17, a student at Trinity Catholic High School in St. Louis. Weaver's parents were the late Ed and Jane Rader. Her father was an attorney in Clayton. Her mother worked in a family business and then was a legal secretary for her father. Her siblings are John Mengel, 58, a heavy-equipment operator in Alaska; and Tom Mengel, 56, an insurance and financial adviser who lives in Eureka. She has five nieces and nephews.
EDUCATION • Eureka High School, 1976; attended Southeast Missouri State University, 1976-1978, and left to study court reporting at Brown's Business College. She got a degree from there in 1980.
How did you go from being a court reporter to owning the business?
I went to work for Ann Taylor with Taylor & Associates Court Reporters right after I got my degree in 1980. Ann was a federal court reporter who worked for the late Judge John Nangle. I was the only freelance court reporter working for her, and in 1985 I asked her if she wanted to sell me the business and she said OK.
Were you still the only freelance reporter working in the business?
Yes, as a full-time employee. There were about four or five independent contractors and me.
How big is the company now?
We have 11 offices in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois with 42 full-time employees and about 85 to 90 independent contractors.
That's a lot of growth. How did you achieve it?
We bought a lot of small companies and took the business in some new directions. We do all courtroom and legal videotaping, which goes hand in hand with court reporting. We also have another company, Midwest Trial Services, which does electronic presentation of media in courtrooms in front of judges and juries. We do cases in all courts, take depositions, do lots of municipal hearings and we also do things like closed captioning for the hearing impaired for conventions and such things. We did it pro bono for the pope's visit here. And we've also started a new offshoot of our business, Aequitas.
What is that?
It means fairness, equality and symmetry in Latin. We do dispute and conflict resolution, mediations and arbitrations primarily for attorneys whose clients are in litigation. Arbitration is frequently mandated by the courts.
Who does the arbitration?
I hired a lawyer, Lisa Herder, as director of business development for the company and she works in the arbitration area. We provide a panel of lawyers and retired judges to work on the cases.
Do you find it interesting to be at all the trials or are you too busy to pay attention to the trials themselves?
I stopped doing court reporting in about 2001 because I was just too busy with the business. I'm on the road about a week to 10 days of every month visiting the other offices. I also do everything — even if it's cleaning the toilets or picking up supplies, like I did this morning on my way in. I have a motto, which is I would never ask an employee to do something that I wouldn't do. But trials are interesting and, for the most part, our clients are wonderful to work for.
What do you like to do outside of business?
We have a sailboat on Carlyle Lake and I love to spend time on it. My husband is the real sailor and I do what's asked, but I think I'm more capable than he thinks I am. We like to travel and about once every year we charter a boat in the British Virgin Islands and take family and friends and spend about a week out there. Bob is the captain and we do all the cooking. It's a lot of fun.
What was the last best book you read?
"Lead with LUV: A Different Way to Create Real Success, " by Ken Blanchard and Colleen Barrett. It's about Southwest Airlines' concept of customer service. It was a very good book. Other than that, I read a lot of James Patterson, Lisa Gardner — that sort of thing.