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Q&A with William Alias III, of Security Holdings LLC

William Alias IIISecurity Holdings LLC isn’t the first company that William Alias III has been involved in starting and managing.
He is the secretary and member of the board of managers for Security Holdings LLC, a grouping of three companies that work in debt collection. All three companies are showing strong growth.
His business success began when he was a recent graduate of the University of Mississippi, at age 22, with a local idea that became a national success.
He took a few minutes to discuss his company’s success and why Mississippi kept him here, when he could always make Atlanta or Chicago his home base.
HT: You and your original business partner asked your dad to help with the company when you started it? Why did you do that?
WA: He actually purchased a third of the company about a year after we started it, and we had some mentors. I in particular had some mentors that I would talk to about what we were doing, on the weekends.
One mentor in particular suggested we needed some help. There were some things we didn’t know, but we didn’t realize we didn’t know. We were just so young. He helped us get the whole company organized and get focused, and quit doing some things we didn’t need to be doing or weren’t very good at anyhow.
HT: How old were you when you started your company?
WA: I was 22. I always did want to be in business for myself, even when I was a little kid. I didn’t necessarily think it would be when I was 22. I was trying to figure out how in the world I was going to stay in Oxford, and a friend and I had an idea to start a check collection business and we started collecting return checks from businesses around town.
HT: Where did you get the idea for a business collecting checks?
WA: We were selling invitations to the La Mystique hair salon to freshman and sophomore girls. The girls would receive $500 worth of services from the hair salon for $35 and we got to keep the $35 and the girls got the services and La Mystique got a new customer. And a lot of the girls started bouncing checks paying for it. The first return checks we collected were our own and it kind of began from there.
HT: When did you start your current company, Security Holdings LLC?
WA: We started it in 1995, as a check collection business. Throughout time it sort of morphed into these other businesses. It’s now made up of three different companies: our credit card processing company that works with community banks, the second purchases charge-off receivables from various banks, and the third is an auto finance business, that provides funding to individuals.
It came about from different opportunities we see. Credit card processing came about when we were selling our check verification services.
The equipment has to get cash to a credit card terminal, so it made sense to offer Mastercard / Visa card processing along with check processing.
With receivables purchasing, we were in check collection, so that was a natural fit to buy charge-offs from banks.
And from our debt-buying company, we wanted to start issuing our own auto loans, because we were already buying a lot of auto charge-offs.
HT: Why did you sell your first business?
WA: We were worried about the industry. It was in the check collection industry and people were writing fewer and fewer checks, and businesses were taking fewer checks. As credit cards grew, the credit card processing piece of our business was really growing. The check processing business was still growing, but we were concerned about whether we could continue to grow it.
HT: Why did you decide to attend college at the University of Mississippi and then stay in the state?
WA: My family was originally from Clarksdale and I love the outdoors; I grew up coming to Clarksdale, and going hunting and fishing. I know that’s not the best way to choose a college, but that was one of my primary reasons for choosing to come to Ole Miss.
HT: Do you have other offices? Where are your customers located?
WA: We have an office in Oxford and an office in Atlanta. And a small office in Chicago. The offices outside of here mostly are sales-oriented offices. They’re 100 percent needed due to having to hire sales people and put them all over. It’s in just about every state. We have customers in every state and I’d say we have banks we work with in almost every state.
HT: How do you see the company growing or changing in the future?
WA: We’re growing rapidly. I believe that we’re growing rapidly for the foreseeable future, hiring people nonstop, placing them all over the country. I don’t see that changing.
WA: We have 35 to 40 Ole Miss graduates working for us, and we’re trying to hire more and more.
HT: Do you hire any employees who didn’t attend Ole Miss?
WA: Yes, we do (laughing). We have around 80 employees total.
HT: Any last thoughts?
WA: We love having our company here in Oxford. Oxford’s been great to us and we really love being here. And we really want to keep growing these three companies, and any other opportunities that fit with what we’re doing. We love what we do. Work most often doesn’t seem like work.
Gretchen Stone is HottyToddy.com associate editor. Gretchen can be contacted about this story at Gretchen.Stone@HottyToddy.com

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