Rusty Smith's 2017 success story
Ex-offender sets the wheels in motion for a new life.
Then: An outspoken ex-Marine with limited job skills, doing manual labor on the farm and in the oil field. Rusty Smith said he “made some bad choices,” which resulted in a stint in prison. Vowing to make the best of his time on the other side of the fence, he signed up for a class at the automotive academy at Jim E. Hamilton Skills Center. He completed the program and received his automotive/brakes technician certification.
After serving his time at Jim E. Hamilton, Rusty needed a job. He went to Discount Wheel and Tire in Ardmore to get his tires mounted, and while he was there, he was encouraged to fill out an employment application. The next day, the manager offered him a job as a tire hand, making $9 an hour. Rusty took the opportunity and ran with it.
He said he gained more from CareerTech in a year than he did in four years in the Marine Corps, including:
- General knowledge of engine performance, steering and suspension, HVAC, electrical, manual drivetrain and axles, brakes and transmissions.
- How to use an alignment machine.
- Common knowledge of mechanics and how things work.
- Life skills, such as being on time, behaving responsibly, hygiene and taking care of your workspace.
Now: At 34 years old, he’s now the manager of Discount Wheel and Tire, the biggest alignment shop in Ardmore. Rusty is responsible for all of the shop’s hiring and firing and manages employees who are his senior in both age and years of experience.
After nine years at Discount Wheel and Tire, he’s the highest paid employee at the shop. His bills are paid; he has vehicles, a house and a wife; and he said he doesn’t have to struggle anymore.
“My salary has gone from peanuts to gold nuggets in my eyes,” he said. “I pay my child support and still live happily every week.”
”If I could go back and do it again I wouldn’t choose the Marines, but I would choose CareerTech. I gained more from CareerTech in one year than I did in four years in the Marine Corps.”
Rusty Smith, Manager
Discount Wheel and Tire, Ardmore, Oklahoma