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The Southwire Company "Gets It"


Southwire12ForLifeHigh school students with good grades and good attendance need not apply for a job at Southwire’s Carrollton, GA, plant. Southwire is focused on helping those who are on the edge of dropping out and failing in life. They call it 12 for Life—finishing high school is the first step toward a better life.

From Forbes (August 18, The Dream Factory by Christopher Helman): “Since the launch of 12 for Life the district’s dropout rate has plunged from 35% to 22%. A total of 851 kids have graduated from the program…40% of whom have gone on to college.”

You can get the full story at http://goo.gl/xAp87p, but the short version is:

  • At-risk kids are given a job at the Southwire factory.
  • They work four-hour shifts.
  • They are paid $8/hour.
  • The school district provides the teachers.
  • If they miss classes, they are not allowed to work.

One of the keys to enduring greatness in any business is a purpose greater than profit. Southwire gets it. Now don’t be confused; they are a for-profit company with more than 7000 employees, 20 factories and $5B in sales. They manufacture wire, so they aren’t as glamorous as TOMS shoes and aren’t given shelf-space in Whole Foods. But along with profit, they are proactive in impacting their community for good (proactive meaning investing more than $3M to set up the 12 for Life program).

Southwire, founded in 1937, is owned by the Richards family of Carroll County, Georgia. What do you think they are most proud of? #1, we’ve made a lot of money; or #2, we’ve helped a lot of kids.

In your business and personal life, do you have a purpose greater than making money for yourself? If you don’t, follow Southwire’s example—get one!

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© Copyright 2014 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company.

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