Four years ago, Eric Majors got out of prison and was faced with the struggle of finding a job, re-integrating back into society and re-establishing his position in his family.
After serving prison time for a felony conviction of insider trading, Majors found that his ability to get hired had drastically diminished, even though he was formally a successful investment banker.
To help support his family and sick wife, Majors decided to start his own business; now he helps other ex-offenders find work.
Majors began landscaping neighborhoods for low wages with lawn equipment borrowed from friends and family, and today, almost a year later, he has been able to hire five other former inmates and reintegrate them back into society. He is also looking to expand to other fields.
Majors has also launched a crowdfunding campaign called “Great Way to Help” to enable him to purchase more equipment and get a second crew on the roads.
Majors eventually hopes to expand his business to include welding and auto repair. Majors says that this will help establish a small employment agency for those reintegrating into society. According to Majors, the pool of former inmates who are willing to work is larger than the available work.
“Coming out of prison, especially if you have a family, everybody’s changed, it’s really hard to just come into your house after the time you’ve been gone and you’re kind of a stranger in the house,” Majors told Pensacola News Journal. “On top of that, it’s also really difficult to get work.”
Along with giving these individuals a second chance, Majors said that putting inmates to work as soon as they are out of the prison system can be a profitable business model. That coupled with the fact that many people do not want to do physical labor brings in a good opportunity, according to Majors.
“The way I see it, there’s a profitable business solution to this problem, and the business solution is we do have people willing to work for less money in our country, but there’s nobody organizing that pool,” Majors told Pensacola News Journal.
Majors hopes to one day that larger corporations will commit to hiring a certain number of employees who’ve been incarcerated, which he says will reduce the stigma surrounding hiring former inmates.
“A lot of corporations will say, ‘We don’t discriminate against people who’ve gone to prison,’ but then when you actually apply, the question you’ve got to ask is, ‘How many people do you employ?'” Majors told Pensacola News Journal. “If I’m competing with someone who hasn’t ever been down that road, then I’m going to get denied every single time.”
Majors says he would like to partner with businesses to help offer diverse work options and to offer sponsorship opportunities to those businesses.
To be able to invest in enough equipment to hire a second independent crew and serve other areas of the community, Majors says he will still need at least $30,000.
Business owners who want to offer work to former inmates and people interested in donating to the crowdsourcing campaign can click here.