Ron Gunter is an ex-convict.
“I went to prison and I just got mixed up with the wrong people,” says Gunter.
Gunter had prior shipbuilding experience, but no one wanted to hire him.
“It’s very tough. The applications had ‘if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony’. I never got an interview if I marked that,” says Gunter.
But Travis Short Senior gave him a chance. Even though Gunter lied about his prison sentence on his application.
“Gave me the job and I went out and I went back in and told him I needed to tell him something.”
After coming clean, Short senior kept him. Over 16 years later, Gunter now works for Travis Short junior at the company he started—Horizon Shipbuilding.
“The guys who make it, make it because they don’t want to go back. They’ve been out, they’ve been rested and ready to go so they rise up, they’ve excelled so we’ve had real good luck with it,” says Travis Short Jr.
And the employees that have thrived made their own luck.
Right now, Short has about seven employees that are former convicts including Larry, a Welding Supervisor.
“I thank Travis very much for giving me a second chance. A lot of companies, they don’t do that for us convicts. You never know who a person is until you give them a try and I thank Travis for giving me a try,” says Rolison.
Although, not everyone takes advantage of that second chance.
“I used to think at the very beginning that they’re all going to stay out but it doesn’t work that way. Some of them need to go back because they’re not ready to make the changes or sacrifices they need to stay out,” says Short.
He says a good number of them fall back into their old ways.
“You never know which ones are going to turn out to be a good person, you never know, so you gotta take that chance,” says Gunter.
But the ones who do succeed, like Ron Gunter, become a new person.
“It was real tough. But you’ve got to be determined and never give up. And I didn’t,” says Gunter.
Short says even though they’ve had a high number of employees go back to prison, they’ve never had an incident while on the job.