By Rob Roth
This feature article ran on KTVU Fox-2 News in the San Francisco Bay Area, and was also posted to the KTVU social media channels. It can be found at this link: Former East Bay gang member launches completely green company, hires ex-felons
LIVERMORE, Calif. (KTVU) – Vericool is a local company that is not only completely green, but it was founded by a former East Bay gang member who now hires ex-felons who are getting out of jail.
Darrell Jobe launched the company in a factory in Livermore. There, workers make packing boxes and shipping containers, but they are also helping the environment.
Half the people who work in the factory have been in jail or prison. When Kyil Parker got out of jail for dealing drugs, no one would hire him.
“They do a background check…that’s it. It would be over,” Parker said.
But he got a second chance at Vericool and he’s been there for a year and a half.
“I love the people,” Parker said. “It’s just a blessing. A real blessing.”
Jobe knows how hard it can be for an ex-felon trying to transition back into society.
“My first day getting jumped in a gang was in North Richmond. Within two hours, I was in my first shootout,” Jobe said.
Jobe said he was homeless by the age of 13, dropped out of school, ran with gangs in Richmond and was locked up three different times.
Now, he’s an entrepreneur, leading Vericool, a company that manufactures packing containers for perishable items.
“It’s 100% recyclable. Multiple product lines…100% compostable,” he said.
His product lines include coolers, but not the environmentally damaging Styrofoam kind.
“I’d seen something inevitable in the market. Styrofoam is going to be banned. Now you are going to have to have a replacement,” said Jobe.
His business is growing, but perhaps the most rewarding part is hiring people that no one else will.
Corey Venson is one of his employees. He spent three years behind bars.
“Then I didn’t want to get a job. I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t want to do anything and have stuff given to me. Now I’ve got to earn it. And when you earn it, it feels better,” Venson said.
“This system we have of perpetual recidivism we have with incarceration…we have to stop.”
There are now plans for a Vericool plant to be built on the East Coast and in the Midwest and to continue hiring people in need of a second chance.