Participants: Karen Thomas, Ashley Cobb
Series Code: IAA
Program Code: IAA000014
00:31 Welcome to another edition of Issues and Answers.
00:33 What an exciting program we have
00:35 for you today. We have a real
00:36 live private investigator who has 25 years of experiences and
00:41 has solved 9600 cases in the city of New York of all places.
00:45 Join us. We are so excited to have Mr. Ashley Cobb.
00:49 Welcome to our program, Ashley. It's a pleasure to have you
00:52 today. Thank you. What an exciting story you have to tell
00:55 us I'm sure. Yes. First I'm just really wanting to know,
00:59 how did you get started in becoming a private investigator?
01:03 Well Karen that's a long story. We don't have time to tell all
01:07 of it but I will tell you some
01:09 of it. When I was a young man, probably as a youth, I always
01:13 wanted to be a private investigator or an actor, but...
01:17 An actor? Yes, I always wanted to be that, that was my
01:21 dream to become an actor, but after moving to New York City,
01:26 and seeing how things were going private investigator became the
01:31 the major driving force in my life. So I took some courses at
01:36 nights started as an insurance investigator and on and on
01:40 until here I am today.
01:42 Well now tell me, did you grow up in the city of New York?
01:44 No I didn't grow up in New York. I grew up in the South. I grew
01:51 up on a farm in south Georgia. My parents were poor share
01:55 croppers. How many in your family?
01:59 Well at the time there were 10 children and I was the oldest.
02:02 So that's a lot of responsibility when
02:05 you're the oldest. Oh yes. My parents made me
02:08 responsible for the actions or raising them. Dad used to tell
02:12 me, he says now when your brothers and sisters are doing
02:17 something like the chores or taking care of farm duties, I'm
02:21 going to hold you responsible. As I grew up I realized maybe
02:26 that's what caused me to be a leader today because I was given
02:31 that responsibility at a very young age.
02:33 Now what type of farming did your family do?
02:36 In South Georgia my father planted and grew tobacco,
02:45 cotton, corn and peanuts. So those were the major crops that
02:50 he grew. This is how we survived off what we could raise and sell
02:55 at the end of the year.
02:57 So now tell me, as the son of a share cropper, it sounds like
03:03 you had a wide rotation of crops
03:05 Oh yes. Year around farming. So did you have time to do much
03:13 schooling? Yes we had time for schooling.
03:16 We had time but much of it was in work. There was about nine
03:21 months of schooling. Many times we had to miss days from school
03:26 in order to harvest the crops. During those years that was the
03:31 thing. Share croppers would have a lot of children and the
03:37 children were to help cultivate the crops and do all that.
03:42 So there was time for schooling but during those days we missed
03:46 a lot of days from schooling.
03:47 So you had no problem finishing your education all the way from
03:50 kindergarten through high school?
03:52 Well I don't know anything about kindergarten. In those days
03:54 there wasn't anything like kindergarten. I'd say from first
03:59 grade. When I was around ninth or tenth grade, I dropped out of
04:04 school. In fact, my parents were very disappointed about that.
04:09 But after leaving the farm I decided that it was the best
04:14 thing that I finish school, so I went to school at nights and
04:18 I was able to finish my high school working at night.
04:24 Now what made you drop out of school? You know we have a high
04:28 dropout rate with a lot of young people around the world.
04:32 Was there something in your life at that time where you
04:36 decided that school was not for you at the moment?
04:39 Well let me put it this way. I always loved school but the
04:44 great responsibilities say in the 50s and early 60s of living
04:50 on a farm, we were poor share croppers, I missed days from
04:55 school. See I was the oldest one in my family that dropped out
05:00 of high school. But being the oldest my responsibility was
05:04 great. I had to deal with my younger brothers and my younger
05:09 sisters. There were crops to be planted and we'd spend long
05:14 hours in the fields working. I guess I was young and I became
05:20 frustrated and I said look I just don't want this. I want to
05:24 do something better. But as I got older I realized it was a
05:29 mistake. Today that's no excuse for any youth dropping out of
05:34 school. Usually when I give my motivational speech I talk about
05:38 how a person can pick themselves up by the bootstrap and pull
05:42 themselves up. Very seldom that I would talk about dropping out
05:47 of high school because some young people may say oh yeah
05:50 well Ashley made it so I can do the same thing. You can't do
05:53 that. Your education comes first because education opens the
05:57 doors for an individual to climb the ladder of success.
06:01 So then from Georgia how did you make it to New York City?
06:06 The Big Apple. Well in those days, Carol, it
06:10 wasn't called The Big Apple. No, it was New York City.
06:15 I had an aunt living in New York City and I always was ambitious
06:20 and motivated. I wanted to be a movie actor, a rock-n-roll
06:24 singer. So you sing? No I don't sing; I was going to learn to
06:30 sing. I wanted to have a good time. I wanted to be a rich
06:36 individual because I was tired of just working on the farm and
06:43 just being poor so the bright lights caught my
06:48 attention. So as soon as I reached 18 I kind of sneaked
06:53 away from home without my parents' permission and I came
06:58 to New York. My dad was upset, but I assured him that even
07:03 though I was living in New York City I would do what a son was
07:08 raised to do. See I was very religious, very Christian, in
07:14 those days and so when I got there I got a job.
07:17 See I was dreaming about making it
07:19 big so this is what brought me to New York City, the bright
07:22 lights. I thought you could come
07:24 to New York City and you know and pick money off the street
07:27 or pick it off trees, that it
07:29 grew on trees but I soon
07:30 realized that wasn't the fact. So would come by success which
07:36 would come by me studying hard and taking God on and let him
07:41 direct my life. Without God I would never would have made it
07:44 this far. I probably would have made it. Maybe I would have made
07:48 it in rock-n-roll field, maybe a movie actor but I could
07:52 have wound up on drugs or some other or alcoholic. I'm not
07:56 saying everybody does that but I know in my case life was too
08:00 great for me without putting in the Creator and letting him
08:04 direct me wherever I may go.
08:06 So now you're 18, you've arrived
08:09 in New York to stay with
08:10 relatives and now what was your first job?
08:13 When I came to New York it was a Saturday morning before day and
08:21 I had an aunt who was religious and it was Sabbath morning.
08:24 She was a Seventh-day Adventist?
08:26 Oh yes, she was Seventh-day Adventist and I wasn't.
08:29 She would call me son. I was young and she would call me son
08:33 because she always treated me like she was my mother because
08:37 she was my father's oldest sister. That Saturday morning I
08:41 arrived at her house. I'll never forget that Karen. That was back
08:46 in Red Hooks and she lived there in the projects and I arrived
08:49 about 5 o'clock in the morning and she says I know that you're
08:53 tired so you can lie down and get some rest. So I thought I
08:56 was going to be able to sleep all day. So around about 8
08:58 o'clock she came in there and tapped me on the shoulder and
09:02 she says, son it's time to get up. We worship on Sabbath.
09:05 And I said what is Sabbath? She said you know we go to church.
09:09 I was always obedient and so I got up and got dressed and I
09:13 went to church with them. We were out about 12:30 or 1:00.
09:17 As we were walking back to the house I looked and I saw this
09:22 factory and a sign that they needed help. They manufactured
09:26 Christmas cards so I went in and I applied for a job and the guy
09:31 said well I don't have time now but you can come back Monday
09:35 morning. I was eager to get a job because I did not want to be
09:39 on anyone's hand. I'm a very independent person, very proud
09:43 of myself. I thought my aunt didn't see me, but as I was
09:47 coming out she said I want to talk to you. Son on Sabbath we
09:51 don't look for jobs. God will take care of that and I'm saying
09:55 to myself, well I need a job now. She kind of talked to me
09:59 nice and she says now the Lord will take care of you. That
10:03 Monday morning when I got up I walked around in the same
10:08 location and I was hired. I packed Christmas cards for $48
10:12 a week. I remember coming back and telling her, I said Aunt
10:15 Becky, I have a job, I have a job. She was very proud of me.
10:19 She says will I'm glad of that because many times young people
10:22 come here and they stay on relatives and they have to take
10:25 care of them. I see that you're ambitious. So I had a job within
10:28 three days after I arrived in New York.
10:30 Praise the Lord. It's not easy to find work sometimes, a lot
10:34 of times. No it's not. But if you're
10:35 ambitious and I knew that wanted to go places I wasn't going to
10:39 stay in a factory. My dream still was to become a rock-n-
10:44 roll singer. My aunt did not agree with that. She would tell
10:50 me not son let me explain. Now all the breath that Satan gives
10:55 you to sing then you sing, now if he gave you any. Now all the
11:01 breath that God gives you then you use it for his glory to
11:05 glorify him. And I'm trying to figure and I'm all caught
11:09 between that I cannot be a Christian and be part of the
11:13 rock-n-roll world. I was seeing the money and all that you know.
11:17 But when you're young you think a little different. As years
11:21 have gone by I think different. That was some 35-40 years ago.
11:27 So then you got your first job working in a factory. Yes. And
11:32 how long did you stay there?
11:34 I stayed there, it was a season, so after Christmas you don't
11:39 need Christmas cards. That was probably October when I arrived
11:44 in New York until April; that's when they closed the factory
11:50 and my cousin's husband invited me and said why don't you come
11:56 over and live with us for a while. I heard that you're an
11:58 ambitious young man and you get jobs so we don't have to worry
12:01 about you laying up on us. So I went over and stayed with
12:05 them so they gave me the key to the house after all the
12:09 instructions you know. This is a God-fearing house and we
12:13 believe in the Lord. Now I had no problem dealing with that so
12:17 they went to work. My cousin who didn't work went shopping.
12:21 And I decided to take a walk through the neighborhood.
12:25 In New York at that time you had factories all the way around.
12:28 It was a residential and a commercial area. So I walked
12:31 down and the first factory I walked in and I told the manager
12:35 of the factory I was looking for a job. He said come on in, do
12:38 we have work for you. So I worked there. We were making
12:41 baby carriages and doll carriages. I worked there for
12:45 about six months. That was in April and in July it closed and
12:50 I was able to go back home to visit my parents for a vacation.
12:55 You know I had a pocket full of money and nice clothes to wear
12:59 and my parents said well Ashley is doing fine in New York. I was
13:04 feeling good about myself and I think my parents were too
13:07 because I was able to give my mother some money. She loved
13:10 New York then because each week I would take a part of my check,
13:14 knowing that they were having a difficult time living in the
13:17 south, because many years Dad would work and he didn't make
13:21 anything. So I think my $10-15 a week made a difference as I
13:26 worked in New York. So that motivated me to keep a job
13:28 thinking about my parents and siblings back home.
13:34 So now from those jobs how did you get into PI work,
13:39 private investigative work?
13:41 I knew you were going to ask that.
13:43 And we were hoping we have time for a good story.
13:44 Okay, one day in a factory I was working. I kept getting
13:51 closer to my rock-n-roll field. I got a job in a get to where
13:56 they manufactured guitars and so when we manufactured guitars
14:00 we made guitars for Bo Dylan and all the rock-n-roll singers
14:05 so my job was when they put the guitar together it's done in
14:10 such a magnificent way. They would paint it after it was put
14:13 together, assembled together and my job was to sand the paint
14:18 down and make it smooth so you can put a coat shellac on it.
14:22 During that time I was standing there sanding my guitar at a
14:26 table and you see these two tall handsome gentlemen with black
14:31 suits and red ties in those days and they were walking, they were
14:36 stepping. One was the plant manager and the other was the
14:39 engineer. So the plant manager stopped and he focused his eyes
14:42 on the job I was doing and he says, you see there that's an
14:47 unskilled job. Wow. That went home. It suddenly dawned on me
14:52 that my labor was unskilled, I wasn't important, and that hurt
14:57 very much. I made up my mind that day, I said, the next time
15:02 that I get a job no one will ever be able to say his job is
15:08 unskilled; it doesn't pay much. So a few weeks later I was
15:12 reading the newspaper. I always took a newspaper to work and
15:17 I would read it on my lunch time and I saw this sign in the print
15:22 How would you like to be an insurance investigator and
15:26 adjustor? Good salary, a car to drive and expenses. And I said
15:32 wow, that's for me. I immediately got on the phone
15:37 and called up the school and asked them all the details and
15:41 they said okay, we'll send you some literature on it. So a few
15:45 days later I received the literature and I read it and I
15:48 liked everything that I read and the entire course, I think, for
15:52 four months was $160 and I had about $180 in the bank.
15:57 So instead of paying the store man, the next day I went to the
16:02 bank and drew out $160 and I was the first one at class that
16:07 night. I paid my tuition in full ready to start learning
16:12 to be an insurance investigator. That night we enrolled and the
16:18 instructor was telling us they had the experienced
16:20 investigators telling us how they conduct surveillance and
16:23 how they could do this. One investigator said he had this
16:26 guy on the workers' compensation surveillance and the client was
16:31 selling fish. He told the insurance company that he
16:33 couldn't work. So he caught the guy and the guy was running down
16:36 the street with the fish bucket trying to get away from him to
16:40 say sure that he couldn't work. I was all excited about that and
16:43 so on and on. So we continued and one night the instructor
16:47 called me out and he said Ashley I want to talk to you. He said
16:51 unless you do something about your English grammar you will
16:56 never make an investigator or adjustor. He was very serious.
17:00 That was discouraging because I thought I talked all right, but
17:04 I guess my talk was from Georgia certainly it was different from
17:08 the people in the east and especially in New York City.
17:12 But I didn't let that stop me. I says, I'm not going to let
17:15 that stop me. So I continued with the class and I checked
17:19 around and I found a school at nights that had an English
17:22 program. So I took the English course and I was able to
17:26 complete the insurance investigation course.
17:30 So after I completed I thought I would just go out and get a
17:34 job right away. The doors were going to be open. But that was
17:38 totally different. I took some other part time jobs, driving
17:43 taxis in order to get the job that I wanted. It was like I
17:47 had gone to every insurance company in New York City.
17:50 I sent out I guess approximately 50 or 60 letters and 100s of
17:54 telephone calls. They would say well I'm sorry we don't have
17:58 anything. You fill out the application... Don't you call us
18:01 we'll call you and I just knew that my English grammar was
18:05 getting in the way. I just kept dreaming and I was frustrated
18:10 and I kept praying Lord, I've taken the course and I want a
18:15 job in my desired field. So one day I was walking down a street
18:20 in Brooklyn and I saw this sign over an office building. It read
18:25 insurance company. My mind says why don't you go up and apply
18:30 for a job. Then the thought came back and says well you've been
18:34 there. You've gone every place so why should you go up there?
18:39 But I decided to go up anyway. I walked up and the receptionist
18:43 asked me well what did I come for? I said I would like to
18:47 apply for a job as an insurance adjustor. I just said it all in
18:51 a resonant manner like I know what I'm talking about and she
18:55 says okay. She handed me an application and said fill it out
18:59 and I completed the application. She took it and said will you
19:02 have a seat. The president of the company will see you. He's
19:06 in a meeting. So about 20 minutes later or so this
19:09 handsome guy came out. I guess he was a little taller than me;
19:11 I considered myself to be short.
19:13 He was well dressed in this black, I think, Botany 500.
19:18 In those days that was a suit for $200. He was dressed up and
19:22 he was a wealthy man. He owned the company. He said come in and
19:27 sit down and talk with me. He reared back and I guess he was
19:30 middle age, well experienced with a little salt and pepper
19:33 hair, you know, he knew what he was talking about. He says what
19:38 can I do for you. I said sir I came and I would like to be
19:41 hired by you as an insurance investigator and adjustor.
19:44 He said will I'll tell you what sign your name. I always had a
19:48 beautiful handwriting. Son tell me what you know about insurance
19:51 adjusting. So I go to tell him what I learned in school.
19:55 He sat patiently and listened to me and after I finished he
19:57 said you don't know anything about insurance investigation
20:01 and adjusting. And I was shocked. He said but I tell you
20:04 what, I'll teach you if you're willing to learn. I said yes sir
20:10 I'm willing to learn. How much do you want a week. I said $85.
20:14 He said no I tell you I'll give you $75. He said I have an
20:19 experienced adjustor. I'll never forget that man, Augustus
20:23 Taylor. He's deceased now but Gus was a middle age man and he
20:28 assigned me to Augustus Taylor. Boy, he had us all over New York
20:34 City. Truckers have accidents every day; they back into some
20:40 car, running into some building, etc. He gave me a work load and
20:44 I would be out there interviewing the people, Karen,
20:48 and when I started writing my statement... You see being an
20:51 insurance investigator you must be able to put whatever happened
20:55 on paper and you have to put it in the proper manner. You have
20:58 to know how to use the king's language as we speak, you know.
21:01 I would get there and start off my name is John Doe, I am such
21:05 and such age, I reside at this address, my telephone number
21:08 is such and such, my driver's license number is such and such.
21:11 I've been driving for this amount of years, but when I got
21:16 into the body on say example June 1, 1962 at about 10 o'clock
21:20 a. m. I was driving this truck... and I would just get
21:24 lost. I would just get all mixed up. I finally would get through
21:28 with it and so I would bring it back. He watched me for two or
21:31 three months and he says I want to talk to you, why don't you
21:35 come in my office. He says, you have great ambitions of being an
21:39 investigator. You're an aggressive person, but he says,
21:43 but I'm going to have to fire you. I said, sir, I can do the
21:47 job but I just need some time. He looked at me and he said,
21:51 Ashley, why don't you stop a while. Sometime if you're
21:55 going something that's so hard stop a while and wait and come
21:58 back. He said, I tell you what, if you go back and get some more
22:01 schooling for your English grammar and come back and I'll
22:04 rehire you. So that's just what I did, Karen. I went out and I
22:08 found a local college this time and I took another course and
22:12 I came back and he hired me again. For some reason when
22:16 I got back to the part of my statement I would get lost.
22:20 He says, well I'm sorry, I'm going to have to fire you again.
22:24 But he said, but you're so determined. Go back and get some
22:28 more training and then I'll hire you again. But when I came back
22:32 I was ready that time. I was able to go through my statement.
22:36 I was able to do my surveillance, I was able to take
22:38 photos, I was able to interview, I was good with it. Just like
22:43 anything when I became good and experienced I moved on to
22:47 another insurance, a larger insurance company. But when I
22:51 got to that insurance company they said well we don't have a
22:54 job open for adjustor, but I tell you what, we have a workers
22:58 compensation clerk position, will you take it. Well I didn't
23:01 want to take it but in order to get where you want to go in life
23:05 you have to do some of the things you don't like to do.
23:09 So what I did, I took the clerk's job and once I was
23:14 inside... Once you get inside a company you can move around
23:17 and I kept pestering them till they wound up making me an
23:21 investigator and I succeeded and I remained with them for four
23:24 years and then I went with the Brooklyn District Attorney's
23:28 Office and from there I was employed by a private
23:31 investigative firm and at that point I realized that there was
23:35 a lot of money to be made as a private investigator.
23:38 Why shouldn't I have my own license. So I was talking to a
23:41 friend and I said, why don't we go in business together. He said
23:45 well I'm doing fine myself Ashley. I make $1000 a week.
23:48 I said, yes, but look. This man is making $10,000 a week.
23:52 We can do that. He said, no, you just go ahead. So what I did
23:56 was for a few months I studied and I got my license and I
23:59 opened up by own business and then that's where I am today
24:03 I did make the Creator part of the business. Any time that
24:07 you're going in business, make God your partner. If you make
24:11 God your partner, you'll never go out of business because he
24:14 is the resource of all success.
24:16 Not only have you made God your
24:18 partner in business, but I
24:19 understand that God has blessed you to become the president of
24:22 a group of international business people, the Adventist
24:25 Laymen's Services Industry Council. Tell us about that.
24:29 Yes, Karen, I'm glad to do that. We call that ASI. That is a
24:34 group of business Christian entrepreneurs from the Adventist
24:40 churches. We meet once a year at various pods in North America
24:46 We learn more how to witness in the work place to those that
24:51 we come in contact with as well as our employees and those who
24:57 may not know God as we do. It's more than just making money
25:02 God expects each one of us to tell others about his love and
25:07 saving power. You see, we are in this world. We are here to help
25:13 each other. You see, we know, and I know for myself, that our
25:19 main purpose for living is to serve each other. So the ASI is
25:24 dedicated to doing that and it fits with me just like a glove
25:29 and 1000s of other entrepreneurs across this
25:32 country. Well praise the Lord. What an
25:34 exciting organization it sounds like. Also for those who are
25:39 watching at home, Ashley has written a book that is soon to
25:45 be published. Secrets of Success and also he has a video called
25:52 The Secret of Success. And he is also featured in Sharing Ideas.
25:58 This is a magazine that goes all around the country for
26:02 motivational speakers. It seems like we're out of time today.
26:07 We will on our next program talk with you and we know we
26:12 would live to hear one of your exciting stories. I understand
26:14 there is a story you're going to tell in our next program
26:17 about a young woman who was lost in New York City and was
26:20 lost for years and presumed dead Give us just a little snap shot
26:24 about that one. Okay, well this is a young lady
26:27 that got on drugs and her parents thought she was dead.
26:31 She left Philadelphia and went to New York City and so one
26:34 day a private investigator called me and said will you help
26:38 me out? I want you to help locate this young lady. He sent
26:42 the information over and after I prayed about it and did some
26:45 investigation within two weeks I had located her.
26:48 Now don't say any more. We want to save this for our next
26:51 program to talk about this and other exciting stories that you
26:55 have in your 25 years of experience as a private
26:57 investigator in New York solving 9600 cases, 98% success rate.
27:01 How exciting this is going to be. I'd like to speak now to our
27:06 viewers at home. What an inspirational story we've heard
27:08 today of Ashley, who is the son of a share cropper, the eldest
27:13 of 10, moving to New York at 18 and making the choice early with
27:17 his aunt's encouragement to include God in his plan.
27:20 Now he is a private investigator all over the city of New York.
27:25 If there's something in this story that has touched your
27:27 heart, we would like to pray with you right now that you will
27:31 allow God to use you, too, to do his work and to be successful
27:34 in life. Will you pray for us now please.
27:37 Yes. Father in heaven, I pray that you would bless others
27:42 to see that what you have done for me you will do the same for
27:48 them. Motivate them to live all that they can in this life and
27:53 serve you and they will be a great success to themselves as
27:57 well as humanity. Amen.
27:59 Amen. Thank you so much for coming and thank you for joining
28:03 us for another edition of Issues and Answers.