Tom Nathanson, the CEO of custom film extruder and bag maker Summit Plastics Inc. in Mississippi, has a new way to find potential employees: from the ranks of recently released inmates from the state's prison system.
Nathanson is working with the state's Department of Corrections and hopes to bring in the first potential employees in the next three months at the company's factory in Summit, Miss.
He said he read about a similar prison-to-work program at a plastics company in North Carolina and approached Mississippi DOC officials with the idea.
I wrote the stories and did a podcast on the North Carolina company, Carolina Color, that Nathanson said caught his interest back in 2017. So I was interested to hear how he now wants to do something similar in Mississippi.
I was impressed by what I saw when I visited Carolina Color. Everybody I talked with there said it benefited both the firm and the employees, who were paid market wages and used the jobs as ladders to do things like buy homes.
Nathanson admits getting employees from a prison release program is not something he's tried before in his four decades in the plastics industry, mostly working as an executive at other companies.
Like Carolina Color, he sees it as both a positive for his business — getting candidates in hard-to-fill jobs — and as a positive for the paroled inmates, giving them a chance at a fresh start.
"It's a win, win, win, win situation," Nathanson said. "We believe that people need a second chance, and we're willing to give that to them and combine that with we're always looking for good people."
He bought Summit, which has 90 employees, in 2015.
"Now that I finally own a company, I can do these types of things and follow my belief system and value system and get these things done," he said.