I was a military air traffic controller in the air force. I was young and stupid and thought I don’t really want to do that for a living. I’ll make my fortune another way. Another way landed me in prison.
During my 15-year stint I watched guys come to prison, go home, come back to prison, go home again come back to prison yet again. You know I got pretty good at saying that guy will be back again, that guy won’t. When I got out, I didn’t want to talk to anybody about the fact that I did 15 years that I’d made mistakes in life. Because I hadn’t created a success story yet. It was my secret that I didn’t want the world to know about.
I worried about finding a minimum wage job, much less a job that had potential for a career. One day, I was laying in my bunk, I read an Entrepreneur magazine and there was an article about Dave’s Killer Bread. When I finished the article, I threw the magazine up on a desk in my cell and jokingly commented to the guys around me, “There’s a company that hires ex-cons maybe I’ll get a job there.”
To be honest with you, first off, I had no intentions of a career in the bakery industry. It just kind of worked out that way. My dad brought me down here. I went to the healthy bread store and asked for an application. I started off in ovens. I spent a lot of nights here, greasing all the pans for the next day’s production. And we have a lot of pans. I was taking every opportunity, doing my time in each department so when I learned it, I learned it well. I was of the mindset: wherever that opportunity comes, failure is not an option, because opportunities are going to be pretty limited for me and I gotta take whatever I can get and run with it.
Now that I’ve made a successful transition into my community, one of the best parts of my life today is I get to help other people do the same thing. I get to open the doors of employment to people with the same background as I have. Depending on what jurisdiction you’re looking at, the recidivism rates can be very high. And the government can’t change that. However the business community in America has the ability to create a paradigm shift. They have the ability to change the way they look at these people returning to their communities and just open the door to opportunity.
You take people like us and you give us an opportunity what are you going to get? Number one, you’re going to get someone that’s motivated. You’re going to get somebody that’s extremely dedicated, loyal to your organization and they have typically an “attitude of gratitude” instead of a sense of entitlement. If you’re an employer – which would you rather have?
For every success story that you help create - how many lives have you touched? Every one of us has brothers, sisters, parents. We have kids, grandkids. By helping one person succeed you’ve touched, 30-40-100 other lives in a positive way. Times that by 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 - how many lives have you impacted in a positive way?