If success were guaranteed, we would have many more entrepreneurs than we do today. The road to business prosperity is not a straight line up. It runs flat and dips downward, shoots up at times, goes backwards when you least expect it and if you’re lucky, grows slow and steady. Risking your money and being confident enough to put it all on the line to make a business work is part of the fabric of our country; it’s why immigrants to the U.S. open small businesses at a higher rate than native-born Americans, it’s part of our identity.
After getting laid off in 1999, I used a borrowed laptop, and in the basement of my grandmother’s house, I created a business that I would later call Ford Container Industries. After about five years, I sold the business and paid down the majority of my debt obligations. The competition in the waste management industry was fierce, and I had to use the sale of a rental property to pay off a loan made to me by the city. I entered and left the waste industry without filing for bankruptcy and while meeting all my financial obligations.
Like most entrepreneurs, I couldn’t stay out of small business ownership for long. Shortly after the sale of Ford Container Industries, I opened a barbershop and salon in Eastland Mall that employed people with prior convictions which allowed them to make almost $3,000 a week—an income unmatched for most other people with arrest records. I also opened a restaurant with the profits and sale of the barbershop to No Grease, Inc.
Throughout the 2016 election cycle, we heard stories about then-candidate Donald Trump and how he ripped off countless small business contractors on his work sites. I know what those people went through because I have experienced the same type of behavior in the business. When general contractors are late on payments or don’t pay all together, it’s the small businesses who suffer the most.
But I wouldn’t change my experience for anything in the world. In the morning, I look at myself in the mirror and know everyday, I will give 100% + effort. When I come home to my beautiful wife and daughter, I can look them in the face with comfort because my entrepreneurial efforts were all for them and our family.
I take pride in my record as a small business owner in Charlotte. I’m the only candidate for Senate who has ever created a business and employed people here in our city, and as your Senator, I will encourage other Charlotteans to do the same. Small business growth is an expression of confidence in the future; it’s the harbinger of good things to come and dreams to be realized. And as your Senator, I will work to make sure other ambitious entrepreneurs have the tools and networks, to become successful.