Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Flawed Legacy - 16

My new job, a new opportunity, was almost perfect for me.  They had created a "labor" office in East Los Angeles, where there plenty of people looking for work.  There was a problem, most of them were "Latinos" and as I started calling on the major businesses in the area, they needed the kinds of help - day laborers, we had to offer, but there was a caveat - No Latinos, and believe me, they were not as kind as I am trying to be.  It was the first time I had ever run into rampant prejudice.

Fortunately for us, among those waiting to be called for a day job, there was one Latino who was not only articulate, he was also very bright.   He worked for us on a few jobs where he was well received and I got to know more about him.  We talked about how to overcome our problem and decided that we could start a "language" class in the mornings before the orders came in.  We took the words that our customers would use in explaining their particular jobs and translated them into words our workers would understand.  Those classes began to pay off as we developed customers who were willing to accept the efforts we were making.  After all, the more they could accept our people, the less problems they were experiencing in thefts and property destruction.

But unfortunately, our management began to realize that the salaries we were being paid did not match up with profits they had expected.  I had lunch with the President and decided to tell him exactly what we could expect in the next few months and told him, frankly, it might be better to close the office and put us to work promoting the clerical end of the business that was more profitable.  He accepted my suggestion and we moved on to "greener" pastures.

In a city the size of Los Angeles, there were literally hundreds of sales people promoting the temporary help business, so I decided to "buddy up" with a gal who was a real "pro" when it came to knowing the reality of our market.  One thing appealed to me and that was the numbers of customers who were in the "direct mail" business that required lots of "bodies" whenever they had a promotion, a perfect need for temporary employees.  I also had a friend of a friend who operated a service in the "black" community that searched for jobs for their teenagers.  We got together and I discovered a company that would use literally, dozens of unskilled workers to fill the envelopes that were part of that business at that time. Our first order was for 120 temporary workers who would be working 24 hours a day for several days.
That was 40 workers working eight hour shifts, around the clock.  The customer's original complaint was that no one could fill such a request.  Thanks to my contact, we not only filled their first order, we had ten other potential employees standing by in case there were workers who did not show up.

Imagine the delight of our management.  They had never experienced having 120 workers on the job daily.  And the nationally known customer paid our invoices, promptly.  I got a nice raise.

And I convinced the company we ought to open a new "labor" office, away from the "skid row" offices that were common to such organizations.  That worked as well.

During this time, our second son was born, and we discovered an apartment complex we could "manage" for a fee, merely by collecting the rents and notifying office of any problems.

Life was good.  I was doing what I loved to do - even though there were times when I was literally working 18 hours a day, on occasion, seven days a week.  With four beautiful children to raise, it was as if my dreams of success were upon us.  I was wrong. 

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