During high school at Blue Valley, Doug Pearson was involved with theater, working with his mom’s community troupe. It didn’t cross his mind that one day he would be involved in another dramatic profession, that of private investigator.
Today, Pearson operates Act Now Investigations, a Johnson County-based firm that provides assistance involving domestic issues.
“I deal with dysfunctional situations in a family setting,” Pearson said.
With an office in southern Overland Park, Pearson has been working in domestic investigations for more than 20 years. With a degree from the University of Nebraska in human development and the family, Pearson started into the investigation field working for a lawyer dealing with domestic issues.
“My Number 1 skill is interviews,” Pearson said. “I did a lot of personal injury work where I interviewed people about what they saw or heard.”
Over time, Pearson’s business increased enough that he struck out on his own. Pearson uses a variety of independent contractors, as needed, to assist him with his work.
“I look for people who have worked in investigations. Do I look for law enforcement folks only? No,” Pearson said. “I look for someone who has the patience and persistence at the same time. … A lot of what we do is hurry up and wait. I am pretty particular about who I use.”
Q: What is the breakdown of kinds of cases you deal with?
“The biggest demand is infidelity of one’s spouse,” Pearson said. “That’s about half of my cases. … It’s important to get on the same page as the client … and help bring some resolution to their situation.”
About 20 percent of his caseload involves child-custody issues, and the rest is a mixture of cases, including missing people, whether it’s a kidnapping or a runaway situation.
“You have to act fast, and it’s highly emotional,” he said.
Other cases involve everything from getting information on drug and alcohol abuse, money and gambling problems, child abuse and neglect, and divorce property division and ownership.
Pearson said most of his clients find him through his website. Because of that, Pearson changed the name of his firm several years ago from Triple 006 to Act Now Investigations.
Q: Why did you change the name of your firm?
By changing his company’s name to begin with the letter “A,” Pearson said his firm is first to pop up in most Internet search engines.
“And that’s my main focus,” Pearson said. “Word of mouth is minimal. People don’t want to talk about this. I don’t get lots of calls.”
Pearson is a licensed private investigator in both Kansas and Missouri.
“That requires you carry $1 million in liability and 16 hours of continuing education every two years,” he said. Holding a license “provides credibility, and it puts you in a place where you are seen as more knowledgeable.”
Q: What tools do you employ to get information?
In addition to using his eyes and ears, Pearson said technology has enhanced his line of work.
“I mix it with office investigative tasks and actually driving by a location based on using a GPS tracker,” Pearson said. “The computer is an incredible tool. I can’t believe the personal information people put on Facebook.”
The typical initial investigation takes less time than you think.
“I tell clients to hang with me for a week or 10 days before deciding whether they want to go further,” Pearson said. “One out of four moves on beyond that. … There’s a very small window in the process of doing an investigation.”
Q: How do you charge for your services?
“I ask for a retainer, and I bill hourly against that,” Pearson said.
After a week, Pearson contacts the client to give them a status report and get the OK to continue. There is an additional daily charge for using a GPS tracker.
“I do not refund retainers,” he added.
In addition, Pearson has all clients sign agreements “that I can’t guarantee anything, because we’re dealing with human behavior,” he said.
In the early years, Pearson said it was tough to get a handle on the business side of investigations work.
“Investigators by nature are not good business guys,” he said. “For years I would get intrigued by the work rather than do billing and getting paid. I had a secretary for a while, which helped. Then I switched how I billed and went to a retainer method, and that made it a lot easier.”
After two decades in the business, Pearson remains busy.
“It’s amazingly solid,” Pearson said. “I get about 10 calls a week, and I’m happy if two to three of these retain me.”
Business really picks up in January and February.
“Valentine’s Day is like P.I.’s dream.”