At TeamCES, we’re all about shining a light on an industry that has long been confined to the shadows. An industry that is widely misrepresented and even further misunderstood.
With this in mind, we want to introduce some of our team to a wider audience by sharing their stories, retelling their experiences, and celebrating their successes.
Who better to kick us off than our very own Geoff Haggerty, 30 years in the business, man and boy.
Geoff embodies all that we believe in at TeamCES, and as you will find out, is a true representation of a hard working, dedicated and ethical enforcement officer.
So where did it all begin?
So where did it all begin?Well, Geoff first came into the industry around 30 years ago, just before the time of the Manchester Bomb (The IRA one) and the poll tax riots to give you some context.
A difficult time to say the least.
Geoff had been working as a P.I., and was drawn to work for John Crilly & Son in Manchester, on an apprenticeship in 1986.
Early assignments included a lot of process serving and jobs for private clients such as solicitors. The real hard graft started around 1989, with the poll tax riots and everything that surrounded those events. Geoff remembers having to keep his profession hidden, due to the abuse he would be likely to cop for from some quarters.
Things have definitely changed for the better according to Geoff, and he is in prime position to be able to make a judgment on that, having seen the industry roll with the punches over the years.
Amongst his proudest achievements, Geoff worked on the anti poverty strategy in the 1980s, something which looked to bring poorer people out of poll tax debt, when there was no public interest in pursuing it. Geoff recalls an elderly couple, who were in £16, 000 worth of arrears.
Upon seeing their situation, and learning that they were both in fact suicidal, Geoff went back to his bosses, hoping to have the debt reduced or cancelled altogether. Geoff’s pleas for empathy were heard, and soon after, the establishment of policy and procedure to identify and protect vulnerable debtors came into place. This ethos carries through to today, and is something that everyone at CES is proud to talk about.
This way of thinking was certainly going against the grain back then, but the fact that it has stood the test of time is proof that Geoff has always been the right man for this job.
This job though, hasn’t all been plain sailing, as Geoff tells us here...
“The toughest day in the job has to be when I was sent to recover a debt from a well known boxing promoter. To say that this person was difficult to track down would be an understatement, and when I did eventually catch up with them, it nearly proved to be catastrophic. They cornered me in a garage and threatened my life. I was able to escape, but it was a truly daunting experience.”
This wasn’t the only difficult day though, and Geoff remembers other situations he’s ended up in, such as the time he was invited into a debtor’s house, only to be told... “We’re letting you in, but you aint getting out...”
Geoff had to talk his way out of that one, which is a skill that Geoff doesn’t underestimate. The ability to communicate effectively with a range of different people is crucial to the job, and has served Geoff well throughout his career.
Looking back now, he’s able to laugh at some things, not least the following incident...
“I was sent to recover a debt from an elderly couple. The lady let me in to the house, showed me into a side room, and then left, locking the door as she went. I had no contact with the outside world for two hours. Just left there in the room with my useless Del Boy mobile phone and no clue as to what was happening. It turns out that the lady had dementia, and had simply forgotten that she’d let me in! All sorts of scenarios were rushing through my mind and in the end, it was a relief that it was an accident that couldn’t be helped.”
Nowadays, Geoff would’ve been tracked down a lot quicker than he was back then, due to the advances in technology that Geoff claims have brought the industry forward so much. Having operated in a time where there was only one van and everything was recorded with pen and paper, Geoff clearly sees the advantages of the new technology available to court enforcement officers.
In terms of what was better back then, Geoff thinks that there was a better relationship with the public, in that there was more respect and less confrontation. We like to think that we’re moving the industry back towards that sort of atmosphere, and Geoff’s experience is a vital part of that process.
Looking ahead to the rest of his career, Geoff says that he is extremely proud to be a part of TeamCES, and to see his son Gareth “at the helm”. He is committed to representing CES to the best of his ability, now and in the future.
With regards to new agents, or people considering a career in the industry, Geoff’s advice is clear...
“You can either do this job, or you can’t. There is no in between. Always take advice from those more experienced than you. Always be honest. Be patient. Above all, treat people how you would like to be treated.”
Sound advice indeed from Geoff, and we couldn’t agree more.
Keep a look out for our next close up of another of the TeamCES family.
Many thanks to Geoff for taking the time to contribute to this piece, and we hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little bit more about one of the very best.
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