Our speaker, Josh Smith, was introduced by past president Sandy Martin.

Master Service Companies was started by him in Kentucky, moved here in 2008, and sold 3 years ago. First company to win two Pinnacle Awards first as a small and then a medium-sized company.

Josh was born in Clarksville, Tennessee. When he was 2, his father was kicked out by his mom. They moved to inner city Nashville. They were poor. When he was 7, his mother remarried, but the step-father abused him, and at age 11, he was removed from the home. He was back home by 13. At 16, he had 10 felonies (burglary and theft) in Metro Nashville. He was often the corruptor or instigator. By 21, he was sentenced to 5 years for selling drugs. In his friend group, that was expected. He went to a federal prison, where he was incarcerated with many white collar criminals. It was the first time he had been around educated people. He paid attention to them. He found his faith. He learned about banking there, and investments. He read Motley Fool books. He had a mentor who had been CEO of a large company. He grew spiritually and educationally.

His wife stood by him through all of the bad years. They had 2 children. He met someone in prison who was a pilot. He studied flying. He learned to be more self sufficient. He concluded that some of the smart guys were not so smart. He began to read books. He spent a lot of time with the other inmates who were willing to teach him. He was released with a different mentality but into the same situation. He finally got a $6/hour job and worked hard. They got kicked out of government housing because a convicted felon cannot live in government housing. They moved in with his father-in-law.

He started his company and did every job that had to be done. He cleaned a lot of mold out from under houses. He hired people who were coming out of prison. He grew his company with men he could trust. The company will do $60 million in revenue this year and is run by a guy who spent time in prison and then came to work for Master Service.

He went to Managua, Nicaragua with a church group. He was frustrated by what he saw there. He felt helpless. It made him angry. He kept going back to the Nicaraguan prisons and tried to help. Three years ago, someone offered to buy his company, and even though he didn’t feel ready, he sold it. (Giving It All Away, a book by David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby was recommended.) The company was doing $28 million in revenues by the time he got the purchase offer. He had much of the money wired directly to the National Christian Foundation. It was more money than he ever thought he would see. He donated $10 million to start the Four Purpose Foundation. They want to transform the people who are in prison. He wants to give them a chance. Some have never been given a chance.

Today, Men of Valor is here. There is a 16-unit apartment building where Dogan Gaither once existed (a black-owned hotel). Men of Valor leases that building. He left us with the following thought: 95% of the people in prison are going to our neighbors someday. We need to be doing something to bring them back into the community. We need to be intentional about what happens to them while they are in corrections. His foundation focuses on people in prison. They focus on correctional staff as one area of concern. Another area is visitors they send in to talk to prisoners. The third focus is community, to bring focus to what is going on. He noted that 60% of men in prison never receive a visit. 80% of women never receive a visit. This program was quite fascinating. If it was recorded, you should watch it.