Allan Jones (businessman)

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Allan Jones

William Allan Jones Jr. (b. December 31, 1952) is an American businessman from Cleveland, Tennessee. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of Check Into Cash, Creditcorp, Jones Management Services and the founder of the Community Financial Services Association.[1][2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Jones was born on December 31, 1952, in Cleveland to William A. (Bill) Jones and Virginia Slaughter Jones. He was the first baby born at the county’s new Bradley Memorial Hospital.[1]

Jones wrestled at Cleveland High School, where he won various wrestling awards and served as team captain..[1] Jones credited wrestling with helping build character and said, “In wrestling, I didn’t have anyone to rely on but me.” He declined wrestling scholarships to pursue a business degree at Middle Tennessee State University.[4]

Business career[edit]

Jones left college at age 20 to help his father stabilize the family’s small business, the Credit Bureau of Cleveland.[5] He purchased this reporting and debt collection business in 1977 and developed it to become one of the largest credit bureau databases in the state.[6]

Jones sold the credit reporting side of the business to Equifax in 1988, although he retained the name and the company’s collection agency division. He then built the company to be the largest in Tennessee with offices from Memphis to Atlanta. Jones sold the company in 1998.[7]

Jones founded Check Into Cash in 1993. The idea arose from him seeing a former credit bureau manager who was operating out of a small service station and cashing checks with the agreement that the owner would hold the checks until the next payday before submitting them to the bank. Check Into Cash eventually grew to include 1300 stores nationwide.[1]

Jones is the largest property owner in Bradley County[citation needed] and has renovated many buildings, including a former shopping mall that he altered to become a site for his companies.[1]

The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce awarded Jones with the organization’s highest honor in 2003, the M.C. Headrick Free Enterprise Award.[1] Jones was also inducted into the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame in 2003. [8]

Jones was included on BusinessTN magazine’s “Power 100” list in 2005.[7] Jones appeared on the cover of BusinessTN Magazine in 2005 and was characterized as “The King of Cash.” The magazine ranked Jones as one of the 20 wealthiest people in Tennessee.[6]

Check Into Cash[edit]

Jones' research revealed the market for small, short term, fee-based loans collateralized by the customer's signature, leading him to found Check Into Cash in 1993.[6] The business model was made possible after Jones allegedly spent large amounts of money on state legislators, in order to convince them to change the law that previously prohibited charging of what some have characterized as exorbitant interest rates. In effect, Jones' critics charged that he bought the State legislation that allows him to do business.[9] As of 2005 Check Into Cash was the second largest payday loan company in the US and was planning to expand on its existing 1100 locations.[6]

Community Financial Services Association[edit]

Jones has been credited with founding the Community Financial Services Association of America, or CFSA in 1999.[1] CFSA is the national trade association for companies that offer small dollar, short-term loans or payday advances. Through a code of "Best Practices," CFSA members pledge to abide by responsible industry practices that ensure customers understand the cost and risk of short-term payday advances to facilitate the best financial decisions. The practices also require that members hold themselves "to the highest standard of service".[10]

Jones said he founded CFSA after breaking away from the National Check Cashers Association, due to concerns that the NCCA, now called Financial Service Centers of America, was not giving enough attention to the payday lending industry.[1]

Hardwick Clothes[edit]

C.L. Hardwick, founder of Hardwick Clothes

In 2014, Jones purchased Hardwick Clothes, a company founded in Cleveland, TN, in 1880. Hardwick Clothes is the oldest manufacturer of tailor-made clothing in the U.S.[11]

Hardwick Clothes, which began as Cleveland Woolen Mills, was one of two companies founded by C.L. Hardwick in the 19th century. Hardwick put his son Joseph in charge of Hardwick Stove, while his son George ran the clothing company. Cleveland Woolen Mills soon evolved into a manufacturing plant, making suits and other items of apparel.[12]

The company, known for its “Sewn in the South” slogan and renowned during the 1960s for making the world’s best blazer, was facing bankruptcy when Jones acquired it. Jones has said he was attracted to Hardwick Clothes because it was the oldest business of its kind in America, and is convinced that the American consumer pendulum is swinging back to "made in America."[12]

Within weeks of purchasing Hardwick Clothes, Jones named Bruce Bellusci, former executive vice president at Hart Schafner & Marx, the company's new CEO/president.[13]

High school wrestling support[edit]

Jones Wrestling Center

Jones is the largest individual supporter of high school wrestling in the United States.[citation needed] He founded the Cleveland/Bradley Wrestling Club in 1990,[14] and provided the $1.3 million funding for the Jones Wrestling Center located on the Cleveland High School campus.[1] The clubs have been successful,[1] with Jones remarking that “It has very little to do with the buildings and it has everything to do with the right coaches.”[1]

In the 2013 state championship, Cleveland beat runner-up Wilson Central 78-4, setting a TSSAA record for the most lopsided margin of victory, most pins and quickest championship. Since the 2006-07 season, the wrestling team has won state championships in 2011, 2013 and 2014, and finished second in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.[15]

Philanthropy[edit]

Allan Jones Aquatic Center

Jones has been described as "Cleveland’s most celebrated benefactor."[6]

In 1990, Jones founded MainStreet Cleveland, dedicated to the revitalization and promotion of Cleveland’s historic downtown area and donated the funds for the construction of the Virgil F. Carmichael addition to the Cleveland Public Library.[1] He also wrote and funded Cleveland’s Shade Tree Ordinance that helped the city’s tree board earn the designation of Tennessee Tree Board of the Year in 2010. He donated $4 million to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville for construction of a new Allan Jones Aquatic Center.[6]

In 2011, Allan Jones contributed to the non-profit organization tnAchieves, enabling it to launch its scholarship and mentoring program in all three Bradley County high schools, ensuring that every graduating senior has the opportunity to attend Cleveland State Community College.[16]

Tall Betsy[edit]

Jones created Tall Betsy, a fictional goblin, in 1980. The Tennessee legislature declared Tall Betsy the official Halloween goblin of Bradley County in 1989 and in 1998 25,000 people attended a block party at which the character featured. Thereafter the character disappeared but in 2011 it was the subject of a documentary film.[17]

Personal Life[edit]

In 1983, Jones married Janie Pangle in Bradley Co., Tennessee. They have three children: Abby, Will and Bailey; and Courtney, from Jones' previous marriage.[18][19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l WOOP Investigates The Truth about Allan Jones
  2. ^ BBB Business Review
  3. ^ Jones Management Services
  4. ^ The Mat. "“Allan Jones Donates $1 Million to Build Wrestling Facilities" by Sandra Rowland, May 23, 2001
  5. ^ Chattanooga Times Free Press, February 24, 2008
  6. ^ a b c d e f Drew Ruble, “The King of Cash” (http://businesstn.com/content/king-cash) , BusinessTN, July 2005
  7. ^ a b BusinessTN, July 2005.
  8. ^ “Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, 2003” http://www.utc.edu/Academic/HarrisChair/2003.php, October, 2003.
  9. ^ Brook, Daniel (April 2009). "Usury country: Welcome to the birthplace of payday lending". Harper's Magazine. Retrieved January 2012. 
  10. ^ “About CFSA” (http://cfsaa.com/about-cfsa.aspx) , Community Financial Services Association of America
  11. ^ "Sewing up the deal". Cleveland Banner. 20 June 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Hill, Fletcher. "A history of our supplier, Hardwick Clothes". Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Bruce Bellusci Is New President Of Hardwick Clothes". The Chattanoogan. 23 July 2014. 
  14. ^ The Mat, "Allan Jones Donates A Million Dollars", by Sandra Rowland, May 23, 2001.
  15. ^ "Wrestling center gets funding for addition". Cleveland Daily Banner. 
  16. ^ Carroll, David (August 4, 2011). "Cleveland, Bradley Students Get College Tuition Help". WRCBtv.com. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  17. ^ "Tall Betsy Returns to Life in Documentary". Cleveland Daily Banner. October 13, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Allan Jones Challenge Gift for Intercollegiate Aquatic Center Announced". University of Tennessee. 9 November 2002. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  19. ^ Slaughter, Michael T. "Michael T. Slaughter Genealogy". Retrieved 5 August 2014. 

External links[edit]