- Ada, Oklahoma


April 18, 2012

Wilburn Smith's entrepreneurial career honored

Ada —  

Wilburn Smith was living his dream in Holdenville, Okla., during the late 1970s. He was serving as manager of the local IGA grocery store, working hard each week, with the promise of ultimately being offered a chance to purchase the thriving business.

Then something unexpected happened.

The store owner, for whom Smith had worked for over a decade, sold the business out from under him. The promise of ownership disappeared and, in 1980, with no other training and no other prospects, Smith took his cousin, Mike, up on an offer: to sell Pre-Paid Legal plans.

Taking a leap of faith, Smith launched a career that would span three decades and see him rise to the role of president of a New York Stock Exchange company. Along the way, his grocery store salary would be eclipsed and multiplied ... by hundreds.

“Wilburn was never afraid of work,” said his wife, Carol. “He just needed a chance. He got that chance through Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc. and the rest is, quite literally, history.”

Smith nearly matched his IGA salary in his first year at Pre-Paid Legal, but his mentor, Pre-Paid Legal founder and CEO Harland Stonecipher, wanted him to do better.  The next year his sales commissions doubled, and doubled again the following year. By 1983, he was earning six figures selling a $15-per-month product.

In 1984, Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc. adopted multi-level marketing and the ensuing growth spurt was almost too much to handle. Commissions dried up and money to operate was running near zero. Stonecipher recalled in his autobiography, “The Pre-Paid Legal Story,” that “our entire sales force left – except for Wilburn. I tapped him to rebuild our sales organization.”


            Smith responded by following the best advice he was given: figure out what you do well and do a whole lot it. Both he and the company rebounded from the late 1980s lull and saw further explosion in the 1990s. He was named president of the company in the late 1990s and continued that position until he stepped down on his own accord to assume the role as national marketing director.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Charmed 'Charmed by Chocolate' to seduce Adans


    Ada’s dessert makers will get a chance to showcase their best goodies next month when Ada Main Street hosts its annual “Charmed by Chocolate” event.


    January 9, 2013 1 Photo

  • Joe Hill Economic development VP named


    Joe Hill spent the past five years working for U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, serving as the congressman’s eyes and ears in Oklahoma’s 2nd District.


    January 8, 2013 1 Photo

  • 1109013_93756205.jpg 6 things to know about the future of manufacturing

    The news that several manufacturing giants are planning to bring some of their production back to the United States has dominated the headlines in recent months. Perhaps that's because Americans see it as a bellwether of economic recovery, or perhaps it simply reflects their collective yearning for America's past industrial dominance. Either way, the interest in these moves demonstrates the unique hold that manufacturing has on the public imagination.

    December 15, 2012 1 Photo

  • 206579_2170.jpg Study: Agencies rely heavily on credit card histories when calculating credit scores

    A new paper released Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lifts the veil off of credit reporting, revealing that the way consumers use the plastic in their wallets weighs heaviest on their scores.

    December 15, 2012 1 Photo

  • wind10.JPG Tax credit debate sucking the wind out of wind industry

    Cancelled wind turbine projects, layoffs are mounting amid budget talks in Washington.

    December 15, 2012 1 Photo

  • Heather Summers Heather Summers named administrative officer


    Heather Summers, Sulphur, was recently appointed administrative officer of clinical services for the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center.


    October 26, 2012 1 Photo

  • Oklahoma delegates work to ensure success of Ada manufacturing plant


    When Dart Container announced plans to acquire Solo Cup in mid-March, Ada Jobs Foundation immediately began to take steps to ensure this acquisition would positively affect the Ada, Okla., Solo Cup manufacturing facility. AJF staff already had a close working relationship with local plant management and utilized it to help develop a plan of action.


    October 11, 2012

  • Dr. and Mrs. Brad Heimer recently moved back to Ada from Texas. Sports medicine calls Ada couple back home

    Former Ada Cougar Dr. Brad Heimer recently returned to his hometown to open 580 Sports Medicine and raise a family.


    October 9, 2012 1 Photo

  • City OKs site plan for Hampton Inn


    Ada City Council gave the green light this week for Hampton Inn and Suites to build a motel in town.


    October 3, 2012

  • Hospice firm gets nod

    Ada-based McCortney Family In-Home Care has been accepted as a member of the National Private Duty Association (NPDA). 

    October 3, 2012

AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

Who do you blame more for the trouble in Gaza?

The Israelis
     View Results