W. Allan Jones founded Check Into Cash in his hometown of Cleveland, TN, in 1993. Since then, the company has grown into the third largest payday lending company in the nation and become a billion-dollar-a-year enterprise. Prior to founding Check Into Cash, he worked for nearly 25 years in his family's Credit Bureau business before selling it in 1998. Mr. Jones started in business at the age of 20 while a student at Middle Tennessee State University. He worked six-day work weeks and long hours to learn and grow the business started by his father, W.A. (Bill) Jones, Jr. Eventually, Credit Bureau Services of Cleveland grew to include nearly a dozen offices from Atlanta to Memphis. It was the largest credit collection agency in the state of Tennessee when it was sold.
In 1993, Mr. Jones established Check Into Cash, which made “payday” advances (small, short-term loans) to walk-in customers. The terms were up to two weeks on $200 checks for fees ranging from $15 to $18. The business proved popular with customers and profitable for Mr. Jones, and had grown to more than 700 Check Into Cash stores by late 2002. Currently, the company has some 1,100 locations nationwide. Not only did his idea bloom into a successful venture, but his company has consistently led the way in setting industry standards and best practices for other responsible payday lenders nationwide.
In addition to serving as Chairman and CEO of Check Into Cash, Inc., Mr. Jones is also Chairman of Jones Management Services, Inc, which provides management and administrative services to his many different businesses. Another of his ventures, Jones Properties, LLC, owns numerous historic buildings in downtown Cleveland. He was instrumental in helping restore and revitalize the city's downtown business district and beautifying the city’s streets by planting dozens of trees to enhance the area’s environmental health.
Mr. Jones serves on a number of community boards and in several capacities with the University of Tennessee, both at Knoxville and Chattanooga. He was awarded the city Cleveland’s highest business honor, the M.C. Headrick Free Enterprise Award, given by the Chamber of Commerce.
He is well known in southeast Tennessee for historic preservation, a passion for the sport of wrestling, and his love and appreciation of trees. Downtown preservation has been a Cleveland priority for the past 10 years, and Allan Jones has been a major player. In 2005, when the Bradley County Courthouse was undergoing a much-needed pedestrian-friendly “facelift,” he reconstructed the old Courthouse Bandstand which had graced the grounds since 1920 until being torn down in 1963. The replica of the original bandstand now serves as a focal point for downtown, and is the scene of numerous special community events.
An avid collegiate wrestling enthusiast, Mr. Jones founded and financed the first Cleveland-Bradley Kids Wrestling Club. His philanthropy includes giving to University of Tennessee athletics, local, state and national high school and college wrestling programs. In 2001, he built the Jones Wrestling Center on the campus of his alma mater, Cleveland High School. He named the arena after his Dad, the late Bill Jones
Thanks to Mr. Jones’ further generosity, the City of Cleveland is designated as an official Tree City USA. He helped create a City Tree Board Ordinance, which oversees Cleveland’s tree-lined streets and supports a full-time Urban Forester on the City staff.
Allan Jones is recognized as an entrepreneur who began working very hard at a young age. He is driven by success and committed to his family, his hometown, and his home state. It was because of those character traits, coupled with the tremendous success of one of his many businesses, Check Into Cash, that he was inducted into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2003.
His entrepreneurial spirit continues with several other ventures, including ownership of two restaurants, both of them with cuisine that is outstanding in their own special ways. In 2004, he acquired The Spot, a downtown Cleveland landmark since 1937. Mr. Jones brought back its tradition of homemade burgers and old-fashioned milkshakes. After purchasing a vacant shopping center complex, Mr. Jones built a professional high-tech business campus with an elegant restaurant named after himself, called The Bald Headed Bistro. The upscale restaurant offers a gourmet western dining experience in the heart of the South.
W. Allan Jones is an outspoken entrepreneur who believes in the value of hard work and the importance of giving back. The impact of this payday lending pioneer is felt not only in the industry he helped bring to prominence, but also in the positive influence he has brought to his community and far beyond.