It’s no secret that the state of the court reporting industry is a state of transition. It seems that every day, one of the big corporate companies gobbles up an aging firm whose owner is simply looking for a way out. You’ll hear the same story over and over, “corporate reach with a local flavor.” Not only is it lazy marketing, it’s simply not true.
Inevitably what happens is that these corporate interests are able to buy smaller firms at pennies on the dollar since they are typically the only qualified buyers of these agencies. Gone are the days when a court reporting company is passed down through the generations or sold to a hard-working employee. In today’s marketplace, corporations have the advantage. They are cash buyers and they’ve done the math. They know how many clients will leave when prices increase and service goes down the tubes. It’s easy to tell what drives these corporations, and unfortunately for us all, it’s not the court reporters or the clients, it’s more like contracts and the bottom line.
The irony is that many of these larger firms consolidate roles within the organization almost immediately. Scheduling and production jobs are the first to get rolled up into the corporate headquarters followed shortly thereafter by the pseudo-position of “Senior Account Executive,” which is the title the ex-firm owner will hold for a year or two to appease the mass exodus of clients and reporters. These corporate buyers save a tremendous amount of money right off the bat, all while cutting jobs, raising prices, and riding the gravy train all the way to the bank.
The bottom line is that the court reporting business used to be one of pride. We possess a skill that few realize, yet it has been fraught with court system budget cuts, corporate greed, and the closing of nearly all of the major schools that trained us. For now, at least, Ruffin Consulting is here to stay, holding to our values and providing actually superior service because our name is on the building.