You might not think it considering his well-known industry name, but one of the toughest career decisions for James Acres, president of Acres Bonusing, was whether or not he should enter into gaming. The son of industry pioneer and innovator John Acres, James revealed that he debated if his father’s prominent leadership role was actually a reason he should test out his own interests in other business segments.
“Obviously, my father had a huge impact in gaming and built a strong brand around our family name,” Acres explains. “Ultimately, after a lot of soul searching, I realized that one of the hallmarks of a successful business person is the ability to recognize how to maximize and leverage your assets…and being an Acres is a powerful asset.”
Once the decision was made to help innovate the next generation of gaming, Acres jumped in with both feet, determined to live up to his father’s legacy but also make his own mark. Unquestionably committed to both customer service and R&D, he believes his second-best career decision to date was to focus exclusively on big ideas and transformational products that had the potential to keep the industry relevant and vibrant in the years to come.
“Being in such a conservative industry, it’s very difficult to build a business around truly new concepts,” Acres says. “Interests in such aspects as mobile gaming and Kai—an Acres innovation that is helping rationalize workflow across entire enterprises—are two of the big ideas that I am helping to champion. Our advancements in these areas have taken years of refinement and evangelizing to bring to market.”
The Kai solution, already embraced by gaming facilities throughout the country, has the potential to be one of Acres’ signature achievements. “Kai is an industry game changer that is gaining exceptional traction among operators,” Acres explains.
He describes Kai as an automated customer service, information sharing and tracking tool that improves efficiency, staff morale and customer satisfaction, all while reducing labor costs on casino floors by up to 20 percent.
“The hand-held system detects needs or problems, and instantly sends notice to the most qualified person on the floor to address it,” he says. “What I’m looking forward to more than anything over the next 12 to 18 months is transitioning Kai from its exploratory and launch phase to make it a transformative product scaled across the entire industry.”
As if his lifelong industry exposure and overtly likeable personality weren’t enough to help establish relationships with clients from coast to coast, anyone who has met Acres can tell you that his undeterred commitment to customer service and client management—for both Acres and the casinos themselves—is one of his most remarkable qualities.
“My clients know my focus isn’t on moving inventory for a quarter,” he says. “I approach every relationship as a collaborative one, always asking how we can make the opportunity mutually beneficial and focused on building a more profitable future for all of us.”
Even at the age of 35, Acres has a discernible appreciation for the value of passing the torch to other emerging leaders in his industry.
“The very nature of our product offerings means that I get to spend a lot of time with junior casino staff out on the floor,” Acres says. “I always go out of my way to help new and advancing individuals understand broader aspects of casino operations, and how they can use their customer service skills to advance their own positions.”