Adams’ life of entrepreneurship began at 14

By Kenneth Heard

Bob Adams was an entrepreneur at such an early age, creating his company that serviced pinball machines and juke boxes, that he had to be chauffeured around his route because he was too young to drive.

He was 14 when he opened his Service and Amusement Co. of Northeast Arkansas to install and repair the machines he placed in businesses around the area.

Adams later owned an electrical service company, a Jonesboro motel and a security company and traveled in three countries selling conveyor belt systems.

“He was the type of person that if anything broke, he’d fix it,” said longtime friend Jeff Whitlatch of Jonesboro. “This was before you could look things up on Youtube. He’d figure out how to do it, or he’d call someone to show him how.”

Adams, 86, of Jonesboro, died Sept. 13 in his home after a brief illness.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Nona Adams; a son, Derek Adams; and a daughter, Randy Adams.

He was born in Paragould in 1932 and, after getting out of the U.S. Army in 1954, moved to Jonesboro where he later bought the Jami Bee Motel on East Nettleton Avenue. He remained in Jonesboro the rest of his life, starting and selling businesses that kept him busy.

“He was a hard worker,” said his son, Todd Adams. “He was working all the time. We’d see him on the weekends.”

Adams ran the Jami Bee Motel when East Nettleton was the main road through Jonesboro, connecting Memphis with points west. The motel had a restaurant, barber and beauty shop and was a stopping point for many famous travelers.

Todd said stand-up comedian Jerry Clower often stayed at his father’s motel while traveling through town. He said musician Elvis Presley may have once spent the night there as well.

Adams sold the motel in 1968 and began City Rural Electric, a company that installed electrical systems. He and his team wired many of the Wallace Fowler-owned Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants around the state.

“He was smart,” said his half-brother, John Bowen of Paragould. “He worked hard at everything. If there was a problem, he liked solving it. He always tried to build on something to expand it and make it bigger.

“He always tried to look at people and see their side of things,” Bowen said. “He did the best he could in any situation.”

Adams sold that company and and worked for a Memphis conveyor belt company, selling systems in Mexico, Canada and the United States.

Whitlatch worked with Adams then, traveling across the country. Once, Whitlatch said, the two sold a conveyor belt system in Tijuana, Mexico, and then promptly headed to their next stop in Toronto, Ontario, driving across the United States.

“He was always calm,” Whitlatch said. “He was a friendly, giving person. He worked hard for his family and his job.”

Adams did have a self-deprecating style of humor, Whitlatch recalled.

One time, Whitlatch said, the two were on the road for the conveyor company when they spotted a disheveled man walking along a street, Whitlatch said.

“He would joke about his earlier job as an electrician,” Whitlatch said. “He’d see that person who was down on his luck, and he’d say, ‘He must have retired as an electrician.'”

In 1991, Adams opened Adams Security Alarm Systems and ran that business until the early 2000s.

“He taught me about honesty and integrity,” Todd said of his father. “He taught me about hard work.”

This article provided by NewsEdge.