Why I Love Giving Second Chances--to People and Machines
Michael Dadashi takes used electronics, cleans them up, recertifies them, and sells them to consumers on eBay or wholesale through his website, AdapterAvenue.com. But that's not his only role as rehab man: Dadashi also is a recovering alcoholic whose greatest joy is providing second chances to other recovering addicts--by hiring them to work at his company. As told to Christine Lagorio.
The first time I drank, I blacked out. I was 15, and I was an alcoholic from that day on. I fell into that black hole of drugs and smoking marijuana and doing prescription pills. I barely graduated from high school.
I was just bouncing around. I couldn't keep a job at all. I had a really serious problem. My mom wouldn't let me live with her. People feared for my life.
It's a cliché, but I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. I called a local business owner I met at a detox center who'd been trying to help me. He said he could show me the steps to take to stay sober and be happy. He wasn't just another doctor or psychiatrist or judge telling me what to do. He had walked in my footsteps.
I was 23 when I started trying to sober up and 25 when I had a revolutionary spiritual awakening. I just threw myself into community service, volunteering at the local soup kitchens and at the local rehab facility.
I had been working for an electronics distributor and recycler. When I decided to branch out on my own, the CEO said I could be a client of his.
I set up a little warehouse in my mom's garage, just filling up my brother's truck with used electronics. I would buy AC adapters, laptop chargers, and LED screens from recyclers who got their stuff from Best Buy and Costco; inventory everything myself; and list it on eBay. I would make $1,000 profit off of a truckload of goods. I'd then turn that $1,000 into $2,000. In five months, I turned that into 1,200 feet of warehouse space. Then 8,000. Now we have a 25,000-square-foot office and 17 employees.
I started hiring people who came out of the rehab centers because I was volunteering there so much. I became friends with the COO of one of the facilities, and I hired him as our sales manager. I hired another kid who'd been hit so hard, he had been on Dr. Phil--twice. He's one of our core managers now and is so talented.
Over 70 percent of our staff members are recovered alcoholics. I think my company is a big part of their recovery. You see the glimmer in their eyes to be here every day. It just fills my heart up with joy. My business is not only providing for me financially but emotionally.
This year, we're expanding into logistics and recycling, and we're opening a warehouse in Australia. We're building software to manage our listings--my cousin is doing that. I hired my mom to be COO, and my 83-year-old grandma works 40 hours a week. I just love coming to work, because I work with family, I work with friends, people who have a positive attitude and who I trust. That trust is so important.
We obviously have a sort of different company culture here. We don't do happy hour, but we'll do morning meditation. The bar scene here in Austin doesn't bother me. I'll take clients to a concert and buy them drinks. I go to clubs a lot. My sales team and I, we don't have a sheltered life at all.
CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.