South Charlotte

Charlottean 'had to succeed' at 2nd career

South Charlotte is chock full of interesting people.

I know because I get to meet them every week. Take Robert Bills, for instance. He's from Indianapolis and has made Charlotte his home for the past 28 years.

Bills, 65, graduated from the University of Kentucky and later attended Butler for graduate school.

"My wife, Pam, and I grew up a few blocks away from each other but didn't meet until several years later. We've been married 41 years," Bills said.

He started his diverse career working for RCA Corp., beginning in market research, then moving to sales.

"We lived in Denver, and I had a 10-state territory. I spent a lot of time in a plane," Bills said.

He left RCA for Quasar Electric where he became a branch manager. The branch was so successful, Quasar moved Bills and his family to Charlotte, where he worked in distribution. The business changed, and, after eight years, Bills left Quasar.

He tried working in the insurance industry.

"Here I was at 45 years old, married with three children, starting over in a new business," Bills said. "I had to succeed."

After some research, Bills chose Nationwide. He has an office off Carmel Road and N.C. 51. He started out as a "scratch" agent - not having any customers or clients given by the company.

When asked how one starts from nothing to become successful, Bills said, "You have to have a fire in your belly to succeed and work harder than you've ever worked before."

Bills has built a prosperous business over the past 20 years, but "I still go into the office every Saturday to do paperwork," he said. "I was never satisfied to be average."

He and Pam have three adult children: son Brad, a local dentist, and daughters Allison and Laura Beth.

He's a proud grandfather of five, and his youngest daughter will be getting married in April.

"My wife is wrapped up in planning the wedding, as well as a cruise for us sometime after," Bills said.

In addition to travel, the self-avowed workaholic said he enjoys reading history and biographies.