Bob Harvey Establishes Fund to Support the Minor in Entrepreneurship
Bob Harvey '81 has some advice for entrepreneurial-minded students with a business idea: Go for it.
Harvey, the president and CEO of TRS Institute (TRSi) in Greensboro, N.C., worked 17 years in a corporate job before taking the helm of Transcription Relief Services (TRS), a work force development and production company focused in medical transcription. He says he had always thought outside of the box, but had never considered himself an entrepreneur until he left his job to run TRS fulltime.
"I found out that if you have an entrepreneurial bone in your body, then you are way more capable of being able to do something that you are passionate about a lot sooner than I did," Harvey says. "I think of the young people in school today—there is simply no reason they can't be bold enough to begin with and pursue their professional dreams from the start."
To help students follow those dreams, Harvey serves as a member of the dean's working group for the minor in entrepreneurship, a signature program of the Carolina Entrepreneurial Initiative offered by the department of economics in the College of Arts and Sciences. The group provides guidance and oversight for the minor, which is available to students majoring in liberal arts or science disciplines and who are interested in pursuing entrepreneurial ventures.
Harvey also established the Harvey Family Fund in Entrepreneurial Studies to support the minor in entrepreneurship. He says he started the expendable fund in part because the minor recognizes the value of the humanities and sciences to business ventures.
"I'm glad to be associated with a school that fosters creative thinking outside the business curriculum," Harvey says. "It's a fascinating idea the way they did it -- everyone can come together whether they're studying science or arts. The focus is on the development of their entrepreneurial notions regardless of major."
Harvey, who graduated from UNC with degrees in industrial relations and history, spent 17 years with Lanier Worldwide, a company that focused on product sales in the healthcare arena. His wife, Mary, created TRS in 1992 so she could stay home with their three children and do medical transcription as time allowed. In 1999, Mary died following a six-year battle with cancer, and Harvey took the helm of TRS to honor her commitment to the company and to be available for their children.
Harvey says that the first two years were rough as he struggled to develop the business while caring for his sons. Over time, TRS expanded and became increasingly successful. In 2006, Harvey helped the company begin a medical transcription training and development organization. The workforce-development program, TRS Institute, offers online medical transcription training in the United States as well as on-site training in the Caribbean. There are currently more than 200 students enrolled in the online training program with an additional 300 studying in the Caribbean. Harvey says that the market is ripe for this type of development due to an acute shortage of qualified medical transcriptionists and speech editors in the industry.
Remarried five years ago to the former Laurie Woten, Harvey now has six kids through their blended marriage.
"Now what's exciting for me is that we have a business to not only support our family, but we're also able to teach others an employable skill," Harvey says. "If I had to define my professional passion, it would be workforce development and seeing people daily develop the confidence, competence and the skills they need to be employed."
In offering advice for student entrepreneurs, Harvey emphasizes the importance of having a passion and vision for the outcome. He also stresses the value of being a self-aware leader—having an ability to recognize when something doesn’t work and being willing to change direction.
Ultimately, though, Harvey just hopes that students will take the initiative to pursue their entrepreneurial goals.
"If you're on the fence, absolutely go for it," he says. "It's definitely a way to fulfill a lot of professional dreams. If you go for it and you do it, then that's awesome. If you go for it and don't succeed, you still learn an amazing amount that can catapult you in your future endeavors."