Angela Ellis’ Garden Grows Prosperity & Harvests Hope

Angela Ellis’ Garden Grows Prosperity & Harvests Hope

Angela Ellis’ Gar­den Grows Pros­per­i­ty & Har­vests Hope

CL Har­mon, Lead Author, Osage Nation Mem­ber

22 March 2016

Say­ing that some­thing is crim­i­nal has been an expres­sion that gets tossed around to describe a sit­u­a­tion in a neg­a­tive light. But Angela Ellis of Tul­sa is giv­ing a whole new mean­ing to that old expression…and it tastes so good it ought to be ille­gal.

I want­ed to cre­ate a busi­ness mod­el that direct­ly affect­ed the women in the state of Okla­homa that were com­ing out of incar­cer­a­tion,” Ellis said. She had some insight that most peo­ple aren’t aware of because of her job with the Okla­homa State Depart­ment of Career Tech where she worked in eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment on the state lev­el. In this capac­i­ty, she learned that every indus­try in the state had issues with acquir­ing a qual­i­ty work­force. The issue got her think­ing about a solu­tion which led to the real­iza­tion that an entire sec­tor of the pop­u­la­tion was over­looked. This was an idea that she would put to good use at a lat­er date.

She would even­tu­al­ly move from Law­ton to Tul­sa where she found it dif­fi­cult to gain employ­ment in her cho­sen field. Ellis would turn this prob­lem into an oppor­tu­ni­ty to put her the­o­ry of uti­liz­ing that over­looked sec­tor of the pop­u­la­tion to the test. She began her first busi­ness out of her church and start­ed the Sug­ar Rush Bak­ery. But instead of look­ing at resumes when it was time to hire employ­ees, she began look­ing at ex-con­victs. She knows that it is dif­fi­cult for peo­ple who make good choic­es to suc­ceed in life and so it must be exceed­ing­ly more dif­fi­cult for those with a crim­i­nal record. This knowl­edge brought her to the real­iza­tion that she had to do some­thing to help these peo­ple. She believes in her heart that these peo­ple deserve an oppor­tu­ni­ty to bet­ter them­selves if they are will­ing to try.

Sys­tem Fail­ure

The sys­tem is set up for these peo­ple to fail and go right back to what they were doing that ini­tial­ly land­ed them in prison,” Ellis said. She explained that she began focus­ing on women who had chil­dren. As a moth­er of four, she under­stood the desire for these women com­ing out of prison to pro­vide for their chil­dren. They need­ed a chance to prove they could be pro­duc­tive par­ents and mem­bers of soci­ety; a vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble objec­tive to achieve when every employ­ment door is slammed on them because of their his­to­ry.

She believes in this endeav­or as being a recipe for suc­cess, and she has been right. The bak­ery was work­ing, and for over 2.5 years she was able to employ women in a part-time capac­i­ty. But this was not enough. She under­stood that if these women were ever going to be able to make it, they would need full-time employ­ment. Last year she took a huge leap of faith and began set­ting up shop in a brick and mor­tar that would be her very own. Eight weeks ago Le Jardin Eatery opened in Bix­by staffed with ex-con­victs and a menu full of unique cui­sine. Sug­ar Rush Bak­ery is also still in oper­a­tion and con­tin­ues oper­at­ing out of her church.

A Dif­fer­ent Per­spec­tive

Not all of her employ­ees are ex-con­victs, but they are the major­i­ty, Ellis not­ed. She fur­ther knew that the spec­trum for those who need­ed a help­ing hand extend­ed beyond those with felonies. These include sub­stance abusers, those suf­fer­ing from pover­ty and oth­ers with dra­mat­ic life-chang­ing events. An exam­ple of such an event might be a divorced house­wife with no mar­ketable skills to enter the work­force. All of these peo­ple deserve a chance to prove them­selves, Ellis stat­ed. She has an old-fash­ioned view when it comes to hir­ing. She looks at the per­son and sees their capa­bil­i­ties, will­ing­ness to suc­ceed and dri­ve as opposed to so many busi­ness­es in today’s job mar­ket that focus on edu­ca­tion, expe­ri­ence, and appear­ance. She has even hired those who have com­mit­ted vio­lent crimes because she feels that if these peo­ple seek her out for employ­ment as opposed to return­ing to a crim­i­nal ele­ment, they are attempt­ing to make a pos­i­tive go for the future.

Her com­pas­sion aside, Ellis is a real­ist and will do what she must when employ­ees don’t fol­low the rules. Le Jardin and Sug­ar Rush Bak­ery are busi­ness­es after all, and there are expec­ta­tions to be met. In addi­tion, she does not tol­er­ate gos­sip and atti­tudes reflect­ing ‘that’s not my job.’ Those are quick tick­ets to unem­ploy­ment because she knows that for the endeav­ors to suc­ceed, they must be a fam­i­ly and work as a team. She explained that those who strug­gle with drug addic­tion are the ones most like­ly to fail, but as long as they make an effort she will help them. As a Chris­t­ian, she reach­es out to these peo­ple and goes beyond just being an employ­er. She talks with them, reads devo­tion­als at work, offers to take them to court dates and even pro­vide raise incen­tives to those will­ing to take class­es which offer bet­ter­ment to their lives.

I love doing this. It’s reward­ing, frus­trat­ing and heart-wrench­ing at the same time. But it’s an hon­or to get to serve the Lord. For me, it’s a priv­i­lege to impact some­one else’s life in a pos­i­tive way, but there is no pedestal in the work­place upon which I stand because we are all sin­ners and I am very trans­par­ent and talk with them about mine”

A Labor of Love

I love doing this. It’s reward­ing, frus­trat­ing and heart-wrench­ing at the same time. But it’s an hon­or to get to serve the Lord. For me, it’s a priv­i­lege to impact some­one else’s life in a pos­i­tive way, but there is no pedestal in the work­place upon which I stand because we are all sin­ners and I am very trans­par­ent and talk with them about mine,” Ellis said. She keeps a hum­ble atti­tude, fol­low­ing the Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal of humil­i­ty. She leads by exam­ple even keep­ing with the dress code she expects of her employ­ees. She asks noth­ing of them that she will not do her­self and treats them with the same respect she expects.

I believe this my call­ing,” Ellis said. She seems to have tak­en this call­ing with open arms. Her life is revolved around help­ing oth­ers to live hap­pi­er and health­i­er lives. In addi­tion to help­ing ex-con­victs and down-trod­den, she has even start­ed a non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion to help any­one. Life’s Food – Nour­ish­ment for the Soul takes ones’ spir­i­tu­al­i­ty, fam­i­ly, intel­li­gence, recre­ation and phys­i­cal fit­ness then ana­lyzes each to see how each can be bet­ter. It focus­es on the whole per­son and works on the phi­los­o­phy that each per­son is a cir­cle. For the cir­cle to remain unbro­ken, there must be a bal­ance in the person’s life. The orga­ni­za­tion works to help peo­ple find and main­tain that bal­ance. They accom­plish this by teach­ing class­es about finances, par­ent­ing and oth­er aspects of life edu­cat­ing them as to meth­ods that help them find and main­tain that bal­ance. It also offers fel­low­ship with oth­ers which opens the doors for friend­ships and social activ­i­ties. Ellis funds this orga­ni­za­tion through prof­its from her bak­ery and restau­rant. She has recent­ly begun fundrais­ing as the orga­ni­za­tion con­tin­ues to grow.

Time Served

As for that taste which is so good, it should be crim­i­nal; Le Jardin offers what she calls glob­al cui­sine. She explained that is a com­pi­la­tion of her children’s favorite foods and hers which is com­prised most­ly of break­fast foods. She also want­ed to add a Euro­pean café feel with a vari­ety of cof­fees and serv­ing break­fast and brunch all day. They have a smoked salmon eggs Bene­dict, Bel­gium waf­fles, hot cakes filled with ricot­ta cheese served with maple bacon syrup, caramelized bananas and fresh berries and a big break­fast burg­er with a fried egg to name a few. She said the food is amaz­ing and quips “it’s almost like a five-star restaurant…almost.”

You can’t com­pare us to oth­er nice restau­rants because our mis­sion is dif­fer­ent. We are more of a train­ing ground than one of the four or five-star restau­rants in Tul­sa that focus heav­i­ly on both food and ser­vice. We may look like one of those restau­rants when you walk in and taste like one when you eat, but our ser­vice has had its chal­lenges. But we are over­com­ing that chal­lenge,” Ellis said. Oh, and if you are won­der­ing what Le Jardin means, it trans­lates to ‘The Gar­den’ in French. A fit­ting name con­sid­er­ing Ellis uses hydro­pon­ic tow­ers to grow her herbs and is prepar­ing to buy prop­er­ty where she will grow a full gar­den to sup­ply the restau­rant. Of course, there is the con­nec­tion to the Gar­den of Eden too which Ellis also men­tioned dur­ing the inter­view.

Saint & Sin­ner

Dur­ing the inter­view, the top­ic of how one per­son can make a dif­fer­ence, even change the world came up. What was so inter­est­ing to me was not that we share this view, but the real­iza­tion that so few peo­ple seem to place faith in those who have fail­ures or are lost in mis­for­tune. Ellis not only real­ized this but chose to become that one per­son who would help change the world. She has made a dif­fer­ence by chang­ing the world of every­one she employs and that offers them an oppor­tu­ni­ty to do the same in another’s life. You might say she is a saint with just enough sin­ner in her to know falling in the gar­den makes con­victs of us all, but falling doesn’t always have to be a life sen­tence.

Le Jardin Eatery is locat­ed at 12345 S. Memo­r­i­al Dri­ve and is open 6 am to 3 pm Tues­day – Sun­day.

 

 

Turning a Dream into a Forever Company

Turning a Dream into a Forever Company

Turn­ing a Dream into a For­ev­er Com­pa­ny

Kirk Richard­son

6 Octo­ber 2018

Web­co Indus­tries Founder Bill Weber died on Sun­day, Sep­tem­ber 9. He was 92. On reg­u­lar occa­sion, Mr. Weber was still show­ing up to work at Webco’s Sand Springs, OK head­quar­ters through the sum­mer of 2018. He con­tin­ued to be active in the com­pa­ny that he built, shar­ing wis­dom with col­leagues in his office just weeks before his death. The fol­low­ing arti­cle inspired by an ear­li­er vis­it and sub­se­quent­ly Mr. Weber’s last media inter­view was writ­ten in August 2018.

Bill Weber sits behind a well-orga­nized desk, fold­ers and var­i­ous reports neat­ly arranged in front of him. He is in his com­fort zone, dressed in a warm maroon sweater in the office that has been his home-away-from-home for near­ly 50 years. His lit­tle white Westie/dog and best friend, Sab­ri­na, watch­es him as she is curled up on a guest chair. The founder and Chair­man of the Board of Web­co Indus­tries still come into work every day that he can, even though the 92-year-old busi­ness­man has been fight­ing can­cer for the past few years. Weber is not only an inspi­ra­tion to his employ­ees, but to those who know him here in Tul­sa, Okla­homa and count­less oth­ers in the indus­tries that his com­pa­ny serves around the world. That admi­ra­tion has been hard-earned, over many years. After serv­ing his coun­try in the Unit­ed States Air Force, the World War II vet­er­an start­ed his career with a Pitts­burgh-area gas util­i­ty com­pa­ny, then went to work for U.S. Steel in 1954. Weber spent the first nine months of that new career track immersed in the Nation­al Tube Division’s inten­sive train­ing pro­gram. From there he trans­ferred to U.S. Steel’s Auto­mo­tive Group in Detroit, Michi­gan, then on to a Prod­uct Sec­tion Group back in Pitts­burgh, Penn­syl­va­nia, and ulti­mate­ly end­ed up in a Senior Sales posi­tion in Dal­las, Texas. “I was in each of those places about a few years,” he recalls.

Spend­ing much of his ear­ly career mov­ing from job-to-job, loca­tion-to-loca­tion, with a wife and now three daugh­ters in tow led Weber to con­sid­er set­tling down in one place for a while. That sparked an idea that made a pipe dream a real pos­si­bil­i­ty. “Myself and two oth­er peo­ple in oper­a­tions talked about start­ing a new busi­ness in Tul­sa, Okla­homa,” he remem­bers. “I said ‘You know, we can do this bet­ter.’ By now, Weber had the con­fi­dence, com­pe­tence, and con­tacts that he need­ed to com­pete in the met­al tub­ing busi­ness. He just need­ed to find the per­fect loca­tion to turn his bold plans into a man­u­fac­tur­ing plant; oh, and put togeth­er the financ­ing to buy equip­ment and build a plant.

I said ‘You know, we can do this bet­ter.’ ”

Back in the late 1960s when Weber first enter­tained the thought of start­ing his own com­pa­ny 250 miles due north of Dal­las in North­east Okla­homa, Tul­sa was nick­named The Oil Cap­i­tal of the World. That didn’t deter him. “First of all, there was a work­er base here,” explains Weber. “But they were all oil-field ori­ent­ed. If it didn’t flow oil, what do you want to do with it?” he shrugs his shoul­ders and smiles. For an indus­tri­ous mind like Weber’s, that just meant they would require some time for retrain­ing. In addi­tion to hav­ing a very capa­ble, hard­work­ing labor pool, the heat exchang­er indus­try was also cen­tered in Tul­sa. “The whole indus­try was focused in Tul­sa and in Hous­ton,” he con­tin­ues. “Tul­sa was the main builder of the equip­ment.” How­ev­er, most of the mill prod­ucts that were used to fab­ri­cate those heat exchang­ers, includ­ing moun­tains of car­bon steel tub­ing, had to be shipped in by truck or rail. Weber saw a big oppor­tu­ni­ty. “Over the road truck­ing and train trav­el was dan­ger­ous and expen­sive, and dam­ages could make it very cost­ly,” he points out. “If we could elim­i­nate that, we had cheap steel.”

 

Weber and four part­ners found the afford­able land that they need­ed on the west­ern out­skirts of down­town Tul­sa in Sand Springs. His part­ners con­tributed $10,000 each, and they start­ed the busi­ness with $40,000. “That’s all the mon­ey we had,” he notes. That is until the part­ners secured a cred­it line, which helped the com­pa­ny sur­vive in the ear­ly days. “I nev­er real­ized in the past how impor­tant it was that you have a rep­u­ta­tion,” he says. “Your rep­u­ta­tion will car­ry you over where peo­ple shouldn’t give you a chance prob­a­bly, but they do. What you have to do is say what you’re going to do, and then do it. Do that once or twice, and the doubts dis­si­pate.” Do it many times, and you begin to build a busi­ness respect­ed around the coun­try. Despite build­ing a busi­ness from noth­ing and with­stand­ing com­pe­ti­tion from day one, Weber is a mod­est man and much more com­fort­able down­play­ing his own role in the ear­ly days. “The only thing I can fig­ure out is that we are lucky as hell,” he laughs. “We made moves just ahead of the wolves. The wolves would come after us, and we would jump ahead.” Although some good for­tune was cer­tain­ly in play, he and his col­leagues were also strate­gic thinkers.

We branched out,” he says. “We expand­ed our prod­uct range. We looked for oppor­tu­ni­ties where the whole rest of the coun­try – except the North­east – was depen­dent on pro­duc­tion from the North­east. We knocked weeks off the deliv­ery of steel. We uncom­pli­cat­ed the deliv­ery. We could take an inquiry, pro­duce the prod­uct, ship the prod­uct, and invoice the prod­uct before they could even answer the inquiry.” Notice the “we” over “me” theme? The team approach paid off as Web­co con­tin­ued to grow and pros­per through its first and sec­ond decades in the met­als busi­ness. “The trou­ble with most com­pa­nies is you take a look at their orga­ni­za­tion chart, and what you have is top lev­el down ― it’s a pyra­mid. Things fil­ter down, and if they get blocked some­where along the way, so be it.’ I said, ‘In my opin­ion, it’s total­ly wrong. Infor­ma­tion has to flow from the bot­tom up. Because you should be mea­sured on how effec­tive you make the peo­ple work­ing for you, not the oth­er way around.’ So, that’s where our invert­ed pyra­mid came from” Weber felt the odds of suc­cess were bet­ter if peo­ple were empow­ered to make the deci­sions, even if some of them turned out to be wrong. Ulti­mate­ly, this strat­e­gy mor­phed into the foun­da­tion of what are now Webco’s 16 Prin­ci­ples, a set of guid­ing val­ues that has proven instru­men­tal in the company’s growth to more than 1400 employ­ees work­ing in 12 facil­i­ties in five states. The cor­ner­stone that holds all of this togeth­er and keeps the com­pa­ny on course is trust, accord­ing to Weber. “I have a phi­los­o­phy that I can do amaz­ing things if I trust you,” he shares. “If I don’t trust you, I’m cut in half, at best. Now, I have to wor­ry about what your thoughts are and stop you from going off the rails. That’s a lost effort. If you know what your job is or what you’re expect­ed to do, I should get the hell out of your way and let you do it! If you don’t know how to do it, I should put you in a posi­tion where you’ll be trained or edu­cat­ed or what­ev­er it is, and then get the hell out of your road. If you have a job, we try to give you the respon­si­bil­i­ty to man­age that job. You can man­age this, and if you can’t, no one can. But if you have small seg­ments of respon­si­bil­i­ty, and you put them into action, that’s a matrix, and that works.” Weber and his lead­er­ship team have used the 16 Prin­ci­ples as a foun­da­tion for the company’s cul­ture, which not only moti­vates employ­ees to trust one anoth­er but often earns their loy­al­ty and welds them to the com­pa­ny long-term. He backs that up by point­ing out there are a num­ber of long-term Web­co employ­ees. This is remark­able in a coun­try where some stud­ies report grow­ing num­bers of employ­ees who are dis­en­gaged at work. “There is no one here that is treat­ed as a piece of fur­ni­ture,” empha­sizes Weber. “They’ve all got an impor­tant part to play.” But he’s also a real­ist and knows that not every­one will be the per­fect fit at this fast-paced, ever-evolv­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness. “If we have peo­ple who do not care, we try not to keep them,” he notes. “If you don’t care about being here, it’s okay. We under­stand that. There are oth­er places you can work, but not here. If you want to be a part of some­thing spe­cial, that’s a dif­fer­ent sto­ry.” That doesn’t mean that Weber demands per­fec­tion from his employ­ees, but he has always believed that every­one needs to be forth­right and own up to prob­lems. “I can han­dle mis­takes,” he explains. “What I can’t han­dle is not know­ing. Let me give you an exam­ple of that. We were a young com­pa­ny in the heat exchang­er busi­ness only. That was the only mar­ket we had. We made long tubes for feed water heaters. Now, these tubes are any­where from 60 feet to 100 and some feet in length. We had an order of about 100,000 feet total. We had no automa­tion in those days. It was all by hand. You put the end of a tape mea­sur­er here, and you draw out 100 feet, and you cut.” But one employ­ee was slight­ly off the mark, miss­ing by a foot, and cut­ting the tubes in 99-foot lengths. “That cost us hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars,” he sighs. After the mis­take, all the fledg­ing oper­a­tion had left was a very expen­sive pile of scrap. “The guy thought I was going to fire him,” remem­bers Weber. “I called him into the office, and we sat down and talked about it. I said ‘I’m not going to fire you, I can’t afford to. You’ve got a 100-foot ver­sus 99-foot les­son. I don’t think you’ll do that again. Make sure you hold that damn tape mea­sure on the end that you’re sure some­body is mea­sur­ing 100 feet from. My point being is that peo­ple make mis­takes. If you think that you’re going to get away with no mis­takes being made, you’re crazy as hell. Good peo­ple make mis­takes. And if they’re the right peo­ple, they’ve been giv­en the con­fi­dence of man­age­ment to sup­port them. They’ll be the best that you have because they’ve already seen what can hap­pen and what would hap­pen if they do.” There are more suc­cess sto­ries than fail­ures here at Web­co. They num­ber more than the company’s icon­ic founder can recount. So he starts to rec­og­nize a long list of employ­ees and their con­tri­bu­tions to Web­co, only to real­ize that is futile as well. There are just too many names and extra­or­di­nary achieve­ments than he has time and ener­gy to cov­er today. Instead, he focus­es on the rel­a­tive­ly recent addi­tion of the Jef­frey Watt Williams Cen­ter for Man­u­fac­tur­ing Excel­lence, a facil­i­ty that opened at the Star Cen­ter Tube Com­plex. Weber men­tions that a com­mu­ni­ty ser­vices facil­i­ty had been housed on the land that the Star Cen­ter Com­plex was built. It had been shut­tered and was with­er­ing away for more than a decade. Web­co bought the large piece of prop­er­ty and began turn­ing it into a man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­i­ty that would pro­vide jobs in the com­mu­ni­ty and solu­tions to the company’s cus­tomers. “We spent over $60 mil­lion bring­ing this dream to fruition,” he reports. He is proud of the accom­plish­ment, and of course, gives full cred­it to the team of employ­ees who pulled it all togeth­er, includ­ing the late Jef­frey Williams. It’s rare enough to find some­one on this plan­et with almost ten decades’ expe­ri­ence, let alone a guy who is still at work impart­ing this kind of wis­dom to any­one wise enough to lis­ten, while 99.9% of his remain­ing peers are deserved­ly tak­ing it easy and qui­et­ly rid­ing out their twi­light years. “I keep work­ing only because I love it,” he near­ly whis­pers, hav­ing told enough sto­ries this after­noon that his voice is wear­ing thin. “I always thought ‘Hey, I could do this,’ and I didn’t real­ize how hard it would be when I start­ed. But I want­ed to do it a dif­fer­ent way.” They say that noth­ing good ever comes easy, so it’s hard to imag­ine all that it took for Web­co to become tru­ly “great.” Weber nev­er imag­ined that his idea to “do this bet­ter” would turn into such a suc­cess­ful enter­prise with such a pos­i­tive effect on so many lives. True to form, he refus­es to take cred­it. “Prob­a­bly the great­est strength I had was the sup­port of my fam­i­ly,” his eyes tear up. “They trust­ed me. There’s that word again – trust.” These days Bill still comes into work when he can, but he has entrust­ed the busi­ness that he launched to his mid­dle daugh­ter Dana Weber. Webco’s sec­ond CEO and Pres­i­dent keeps an office just across the Exec­u­tive Assistant’s work­space from her father. When both are at head­quar­ters, they talk busi­ness, but the man­tle has clear­ly been passed. “She is bril­liant!” he beams. “Now she runs the com­pa­ny, and I’m an employ­ee,” Weber adds that while Dana is in charge of the busi­ness, she plays oth­er roles in Okla­homa, includ­ing serv­ing on the Fed­er­al Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Okla­homa City Branch Board of Direc­tor. As Web­co reach­es its gold­en anniver­sary, Weber says that there will be time to cel­e­brate, but with an eye on the hori­zon. He believes that there is no rea­son that the com­pa­ny he found­ed 50 years ago can’t con­tin­ue to pros­per and grow even stronger on the way to its 75th and 100th anniver­saries. “You’ve got to keep on, keepin’ on!” urges the 92-year-old. “It’s amaz­ing what peo­ple are capa­ble of when they are com­mit­ted. For instance, we have peo­ple com­ing out of Okla­homa State Uni­ver­si­ty and oth­er state uni­ver­si­ties, and they’re a won­der­ful resource for tal­ent. We don’t know what we don’t know.” They are bring­ing in fresh per­spec­tives and new ideas while learn­ing on the job. “My own opin­ion is that if you know how to do it bet­ter, you do it bet­ter,” he con­tin­ues. “Bet­ter means that you can improve the per­for­mance of a prod­uct you’re sell­ing. If you can improve the per­for­mance of a prod­uct you’re sell­ing, and you don’t do it, you’re crazy as hell. Always be at the head of the class. I think that will keep you in the lead or near the lead. Oh, and by the way, you’ve got to be will­ing to put your mon­ey where your mouth is. You’ve got to be able to take risks. “We look back, and we’ve amazed our­selves at what we’ve accom­plished. It wasn’t one per­son, it wasn’t one orga­ni­za­tion, it wasn’t one thing. It was a col­lect­ed mul­ti­tude of deci­sions that were made – some have good results, some not so good. But, we’re here.” Now what was once a small start-up that sur­vived on its resource­ful­ness and a lit­tle luck has become North America’s lead­ing man­u­fac­tur­er of weld­ed tub­ing with a mis­sion to become a “for­ev­er com­pa­ny”. Fifty years lat­er, that end­less­ly retreat­ing goal line is only on the hori­zon because an indus­tri­ous man and his team of ded­i­cat­ed employ­ees made a tube and a pipe dream come true. As the vis­it­ing jour­nal­ist leaves the warm office, pet­ting Sab­ri­na along the way, he thanks Weber for teach­ing him a few things: old dogs can learn new tricks. “If I taught you any­thing, you’re in trou­ble,” he chuck­les, then vol­un­teers one last pearl, “Remem­ber, wher­ev­er you are, the best is always ahead of you.”

Major Spice Company in Cleveland, Ok

Major Spice Company in Cleveland, Ok

Dad­dy Hinkle’s, Adding Its Own Spice To Okla­homa Life

CL spends some time with David of Dad­dy Hinkle’s spice com­pa­ny based in Cleve­land Okla­homa.

CL Har­mon, Lead Author, Osage Nation Mem­ber

28 Sep­tem­ber 2018

Now and then the expres­sion ‘the spice of life’ gets tossed around. Usu­al­ly, it is refer­ring to some­one or some­thing which adds a lit­tle more to life than what is the norm. It is a rare occa­sion when it hap­pens and so to meet some­one who spices up life both metaphor­i­cal­ly and lit­er­al­ly, is a fla­vor that has a taste all its own. Let me intro­duce you to the David Hin­kle Southard, the man behind the Dad­dy Hin­kle spices label.

Soft-spo­ken and with a sub­tle sense of humor, one imme­di­ate­ly feels com­fort­able in his pres­ence. He humbly works at keep­ing his intel­li­gence from shin­ing through, but it beams through the cracks as he explains the oper­a­tions at Dad­dy Hinkle’s Spices com­pa­ny plant in Cleve­land, Okla­homa. No, he is not Dad­dy Hin­kle, but his grand­son and one of three broth­ers who found­ed the com­pa­ny in 1993. At 50 years of age and liv­ing on a sail­boat in the Flori­da Keys, David had plans to “bum around in par­adise” as he put it when his younger broth­er approached him with the idea of start­ing a com­pa­ny sell­ing spices.

Pho­to­graph by CL Har­mon

As for the his­to­ry of where the spices orig­i­nat­ed, David explained that his grand­fa­ther J. Frank Hin­kle was the inspi­ra­tion to build and oper­ate a com­pa­ny using the same prin­ci­ples which the grand­fa­ther had used in build­ing his suc­cess­ful oil drilling busi­ness. The family’s suc­cess would afford them an upper-class lifestyle and a love for enter­tain­ing friends and busi­ness asso­ciates. Since Hin­kle was a lover of steak, it was usu­al­ly the main course. As such, his wife Zula began mix­ing spices and ingre­di­ents of vary­ing types and degrees to enhance the fla­vor. Unbe­knownst to her at the time, she was cre­at­ing the foun­da­tion for prod­ucts that her grand­sons would use to add more taste to the world.

The fam­i­ly had been using the recipes through the years, but pro­duc­ing them for com­mer­cial use was not some­thing that the broth­ers knew much about. David’s younger broth­er Den­ny was an endodon­tist, and his old­er broth­er Michael rais­es race hors­es. Den­ny, how­ev­er, want­ed to invest in the idea and David’s career choic­es made him the one most qual­i­fied to head up such an oper­a­tion. He had spent the pre­vi­ous 20 years own­ing and work­ing in dif­fer­ent capac­i­ties at bars and restau­rants. He knew how to cook var­i­ous types of meats and seafood as well as even being a sautee cook in a French restau­rant for a while. He had an under­stand­ing of what was required spice-wise to give the meat a fla­vor­ful, robust taste. When his broth­er Den­ny approached him about the idea, He wasn’t ini­tial­ly thrilled about run­ning ashore and leav­ing behind par­adise, but he was lured away by the thought of hav­ing what he calls “mail­box mon­ey.”

Pho­to­graph by CL Har­mon

The plan ini­tial­ly David believed would be to take a cou­ple of years off from “bum­ming around in par­adise,” devel­op the prod­uct, mar­ket it and then head back to South Flori­da where he could sail around for a few months and then anchor long enough to cash the mail­box mon­ey checks. For­tu­nate­ly for steak enthu­si­asts, that is not what hap­pened! After three years, it became evi­dent to David that his con­tin­ued involve­ment and for­mu­la cre­ations were cru­cial to the suc­cess of the com­pa­ny. So he debarked for good. His first order of busi­ness was to cre­ate the prod­uct. His grand­par­ents had cre­at­ed the fla­vors to make great tast­ing meats, but they had done so using ready-made spices from the store and sim­ply mix­ing dif­fer­ent options until cre­at­ing the taste they want­ed. David had to recre­ate the fla­vors with for­mu­las using raw ingre­di­ents.

This first for­mu­la would become the “Orig­i­nal” (Onion & Gar­lic based), which is still the largest sell­er. David has since added sev­er­al oth­er blends includ­ing the two oth­er main fla­vors. The sec­ond of these main fla­vors is South­west (Cumin & Oregano based), and the third is Spicy Pep­per (Jalapeno & Red Pep­per). All three blends are paired with Liq­uid Instant Meat Mari­nade. In addi­tion, the com­pa­ny has all nat­ur­al fla­vors sea­son­ing rub mari­nades. These include Onion & Gar­lic- Sug­ar-Free, Tex Mex- Sug­ar-Free, Low Sodi­um- Made with Sea Salt, Cracked Pep­per- Low Sodi­um and Spicy Pep­per-Sug­ar Free. There is also a sea­soned ten­der­iz­er, which is a liq­uid that has ten­der­iz­er, onion, and gar­lic already added.

Next would be the pro­duc­tion aspect. David set­tled on three blend­ing com­pa­nies in the US that take his for­mu­la and cre­ate the prod­uct. The prod­ucts are made in dry sea­son­ing and a liq­uid form. The com­pa­nies which pro­duce the dry sea­son­ing ship it in bulk to the Cleve­land facil­i­ty where it is then pack­aged or and some­times bot­tled for sale. The com­pa­ny offers the dry sea­son­ing in var­i­ous sizes and both the dry and liq­uid in bulk pack­ages. Also, it has gift bas­kets and com­bo packs.

The com­pa­ny has been in exis­tence for 24 years has had steady growth since its incep­tion. It cur­rent­ly dis­trib­utes Dad­dy Hinkle’s spices in the fol­low­ing stores: Wal­mart, Rea­sors, Food Pyra­mid, Krogers, Price Chop­per, Albert­sons, Home­land, Unit­ed, Hy-Vee, Brook­shire Gro­cery, H.E.B., Dil­lon, and var­i­ous meat mar­kets all over the Unit­ed States. The prod­ucts can be ordered online www.daddyhinkles.com as well. The com­pa­ny also has cus­tomers in Cana­da, Cal­i­for­nia, New York, Col­orado, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Prod­ucts are also avail­able on Ama­zon, eBay, and Wal-Mart.com. The com­pa­ny has sev­er­al dis­trib­u­tors that rep­re­sent the com­pa­ny in sell­ing its prod­ucts.

Dad­dy Hinkle’s is cer­tain­ly a unique addi­tion to Okla­homa which con­tin­ues the tra­di­tion of adding to the blend of fla­vors that can always be found cook­ing some­where in the state. So crack open a bot­tle of Dad­dy Hinkle’s and enjoy the spice of Okla­homa life.

Tulsa Stained Glass

Tulsa Stained Glass

Tul­sa Stained Glass, Teach­ing How To Pick Up The Pieces And Put Them Togeth­er

CL Har­mon, Lead Author, Osage Nation Mem­ber

21 SEPTEMBER 2018

For over 1,000 years stained glass art has been a part of the cre­ative world. It is an art form that is like no oth­er in the world; a dec­o­ra­tion viewed in church­es, restau­rants, busi­ness­es and even some homes.  What is most inter­est­ing about stained glass is how it is used to con­vey a mes­sage or sto­ry. One such instance was its use in Medieval Times as visu­al accounts of Bib­li­cal sto­ries for those com­mon­ers who could not read the Bible.  Anoth­er instance was one I was not expect­ing. It was when I met Richard Bohm, own­er of Tul­sa Stained Glass Com­pa­ny.  This encounter would not be one of the art of telling a sto­ry, but of the artist telling how art was to become his sto­ry.

Expect­ing a sim­ple inter­view about the mechan­ics and the­o­ry of stained glass­works, I was sur­prised to learn about a man who stepped out on faith, suf­fered loss, found pur­pose and shared hope. Life is always a jour­ney and often what makes these jour­neys so inter­est­ing is how far we trav­el from the direc­tion from which we began the jour­ney. Bohm embarked on his life path using the left side of his brain as his com­pass. In oth­er words, he was using log­ic and math­e­mat­ics in a pro­fes­sion to prob­lem solve for oth­ers. It pro­vid­ed an income and a cer­tain amount of sta­bil­i­ty, but as with most jour­neys in life, there was a curve up ahead that would lead him into an entire­ly new direc­tion.

My wife Car­ol took a class on stained glass art, and she showed me how to do it. It was fun! That was 42 years ago,” Bohm said. The cou­ple began play­ing around with their new found hob­by at home and soon began to real­ize that there was a mar­ket for qual­i­ty stained glass. Although Bohm used the left side of his brain to earn a liv­ing at this time, he did exer­cise his cre­ative right side through his pho­tog­ra­phy hob­by. He had also been taught an appre­ci­a­tion for the arts by a high school teacher that obvi­ous­ly had a last­ing impact. The dis­cov­ery of stained glass art opened up that less­er used right brain, and it quick­ly became dom­i­nant. Using his skills from work­ing as a prob­lem solver, Bohm was able to mesh both sides of his brain into a fun and reward­ing career.

Pho­to­graph by CL Har­mon

Ini­tial­ly, the busi­ness start­ed in their din­ing room. Less than two years lat­er, the cou­ple moved to their first com­mer­cial loca­tion in Tul­sa. The busi­ness grew as they cre­at­ed and sold what Bohm calls “wid­gets” (var­i­ous pieces of stained glass art and sculp­tures). The growth con­tin­ued as cus­tomers would order cus­tom pieces or need repairs on exist­ing works of stained glass. The work kept them busy, and it was a labor of love for them. How­ev­er, life would bring Bohm anoth­er curve. This time it was a sharp one that he did not see com­ing. After 28 years of strug­gling and oper­at­ing the busi­ness togeth­er, Car­ol passed away. The art that had been his busi­ness, but now it need­ed to be some­thing else…a ther­a­pist.

While deal­ing with his grief, Bohm began ques­tion­ing if there was more to life. Although busi­ness was sta­ble, there were always lean times and cash flow issues. With the pass­ing of his wife, it was time to reflect and to heal. In his efforts to do so, he began tak­ing the busi­ness aspect out of his busi­ness and replac­ing it with the art that had appealed to him all those years ago.  It’s what he calls “self-ther­a­py.”

I began to devel­op a pas­sion for art, and that grew into self-ther­a­py. And from this came my new pas­sion of teach­ing oth­ers how to use art to solve prob­lems, self-ana­lyze and how to be hap­py,”

I began to devel­op a pas­sion for art, and that grew into self-ther­a­py. And from this came my new pas­sion of teach­ing oth­ers how to use art to solve prob­lems, self-ana­lyze and how to be hap­py,” Bohm said.  He began teach­ing oth­ers about the pow­er of hav­ing a pas­sion for art and how cre­at­ing some­thing releas­es inner heal­ing prop­er­ties and brings about answers to life’s ques­tions. It has been a win-win that keeps pay­ing off. In life, we are always look­ing to fit the pieces togeth­er and cre­ate an exis­tence that is our own work of art. For Bohm, those pieces in his life began to take on a new shape when he began teach­ing oth­ers to how to pick and assem­ble their pieces into a work of art.

He cur­rent­ly teach­es two class­es now at his store/studio locat­ed at 4131 S. Sheri­dan Road in Tul­sa. The first is a begin­ner class where he teach­es about the process and tech­nique that has been in prac­tice since the Mid­dle Ages. Each stu­dent is giv­en the same assign­ment which is designed by Bohm and focus­es on the fun­da­men­tals of cre­at­ing a pane of art such as a small win­dow which can be hung for dec­o­ra­tion. In this les­son, all of the pieces must touch and then be sol­dered togeth­er to become a sol­id pan­el. Class­es are avail­able on Thurs­day evenings sev­er­al times each year for 2.5-hour ses­sions run­ning for eight weeks.

Pho­to­graph by CL Har­mon

The sec­ond is called Gar­den Spir­it Sculp­tures class which is one ses­sion only but it is a “fun and intense” three-hour class. This class allows each stu­dent to choose their mate­ri­als and cre­ate a design of their choos­ing. In this les­son, the pieces do not have to inter­lock. Thus it is called a sculp­ture.  He empha­sizes that the pur­pose of these projects is to allow stu­dents to cre­ate some­thing that “feels good to them.” This feel­ing allows the stu­dents to dis­cov­er pas­sion and use their life expe­ri­ences to cre­ate some­thing tan­gi­ble while allow­ing the process to help them work through issues in their lives. These class­es are avail­able every Sat­ur­day.

What’s most inter­est­ing about Bohm is not that he was able to build a busi­ness out of an inter­est­ing hob­by, but that he has been able to build an inter­est in help­ing oth­ers through his busi­ness with these ther­a­peu­tic class­es. There is an excite­ment in his every word when he describes how art ther­a­py affects people’s lives. It has become a part of his iden­ti­ty; a self-sculp­ture of what his life has become.  So much so that he has even pub­lished a book on the sub­ject.  In addi­tion to his reg­u­lar class­es, he even teach­es pro­fes­sion­al ther­a­pists to use art ther­a­py to help their patients over­come chal­lenges.  Per­haps Bohm is onto some­thing. Peo­ple are always work­ing to pick up the bro­ken shards in their lives hop­ing to repair them. Bohm sim­ply con­nects these peo­ple to those who have been putting the pieces togeth­er for over 1,000 years by sol­der­ing bro­ken shards togeth­er to cre­ate some­thing new, whole and beau­ti­ful.

To learn more about Bohm’s class­es, vis­it his web­site tulsastainedglass.com. If you are inter­est­ed in pur­chas­ing his book, Expe­ri­ence the Pow­er of Art, they are avail­able on Ama­zon and at his store.

 

New Osage Casino Opens With a Winning Hand

New Osage Casino Opens With a Winning Hand

 

New Osage Casi­no Opens With a Win­ning Hand

CL Har­mon, Lead Author, Osage Nation Mem­ber

12 SEPTEMBER 2018

*This is not a paid adver­tise­ment and we have received no com­pen­sa­tion for the pub­li­ca­tion of this sto­ry.

It’s an excite­ment like no oth­er. The antic­i­pa­tion builds as you watch the dials spin­ning through the screen. The first dial stops and your eyes become fixed as the sec­ond one drops into place, match­ing the first one. Then your eyes widen, and a smile marks your face as the third dial drops into place…JACKPOT! Yeah, it’s an excite­ment like no other…like an arcade for adults. And thanks to the Indi­an gam­ing indus­try, Okla­homa gam­blers have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to try their luck with­out hav­ing to go to Vegas. How­ev­er, as the trib­al casi­nos gain more pop­u­lar­i­ty, the com­pe­ti­tion steadi­ly stiff­ens. In this com­pet­i­tive game, the Osage Casi­no has just been dealt a new hand, and with it, the tribe may be now hold­ing an Ace high hand.

The Osage tribe recent­ly anted up $160 mil­lion to play in the high stakes com­pe­ti­tion that becomes more preva­lent by the day it seems. Already a major play­er, the tribe has raised the stakes with their new casi­no locat­ed at 951 West 36th st North behind the one built in 2005. Unlike their oth­er casi­nos, this one is con­struct­ed to com­pete with oth­er tribes that have gam­bled on bring­ing more of a “Las Vegas” feel to the state with hotels and enter­tain­ment for its patrons. The 400,000 square foot casi­no opened on August 29 to a crowd of over 6,000 peo­ple.

This ele­vates our prod­uct and brings our game to a whole new lev­el. We are very excit­ed to show it off to every­one,” Byron Bighorse, CEO for the Osage Casi­nos said. He added that the guests in Tul­sa have become accus­tomed to a hotel/casino expe­ri­ence with their competition’s enter­pris­es and this will cer­tain­ly enhance that expe­ri­ence for Tul­sa guests while offer­ing some unique aspects that set them apart from their com­peti­tors.

Rib­bon Cut­ting

Pho­to­graph by Shane Bev­el

As for what one can find in this new addi­tion to the Tul­sa scene, there are 1,628 elec­tron­ic games which triple the size of gam­ing floors in Tul­sa. There are also cur­rent­ly 16 table games with the inclu­sion of roulette and craps to be added soon. The casi­no also offers a high-lim­it room for those high rollers who enjoy a night out of high stakes. Bighorse said, to make patrons even more com­fort­able, the casi­no has an updat­ed ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem which turns out fresh air through­out the facil­i­ty nine times every hour which is three more than an aver­age office space.

There are also four food and bev­er­age out­lets on the floor. The first of these is Stone Creek Kitchen which is a sit-down style café/restaurant and dou­bles as a break­fast buf­fet bar for hotel guests. There is also a piz­za place that is of their design dubbed ‘The Orig­i­nal Roni Pep­pos’ that works like a Sub­way where each cus­tomer picks his/her top­pings. There is also a bar & grill called Thun­der Bar & Grill which offers mixed drinks, beer and var­i­ous styles of food. Last­ly, is the Nine Band Brew Pub where there is a selec­tion of craft beers from fruity to dark bar­leys.

As for the hotel, there are 137 hotel rooms and four hos­pi­tal­i­ty suites which are unique to any­thing else in the area, Bighorse said. He added that “it’s get­ting a four or five-star hotel for a three-star price.” Anoth­er unique aspect of the rooms is that each one con­tains orig­i­nal art from Osage artists. The tribe com­mis­sioned these artists to pro­vide the art­work for both the rooms and the décor of the hotel itself. Bighorse expressed how much artis­tic tal­ent there is in the tribe. He said by using their art; it allowed the tribe to help out its mem­bers while adding a unique aspect of Osage cul­ture and his­to­ry to the hotel. In addi­tion, there is a pool area which he said is “beau­ti­ful” and a 1,039 space park­ing garage for guest con­ve­nience and ban­quet space avail­able.

We know there is a need for new event venues, par­tic­u­lar­ly in close prox­im­i­ty to down­town,” said Bighorse. “These ver­sa­tile ban­quet spaces are ful­ly staffed and give breath­tak­ing views of the Osage Hills that you just can’t find any­where else.”

One of the most unique aspects of the casi­no is that it has its own brewery…yes, they brew their own beer! Now, this is some­thing to raise your mug in a toast for. The brand is Nine Band Brew­ery out of Allen, Texas. Bighorse explained that craft beer is very pop­u­lar in Okla­homa and this brew­ery is the twelfth brew­ery to open in Tul­sa with­in the last year. As a bonus, the casi­no is work­ing on what Bighorse calls a “brew­ery crawl” where beer enthu­si­asts will ride in Mer­cedes shut­tles from the Nine Band pub to oth­er craft beer facil­i­ties where they can try dif­fer­ent brands of crafts beers. Then each of the par­tic­i­pants will be giv­en a hotel room for the night to sleep off the evening crawl.

View of the new Slots!

Pho­to­graph by Shane Bev­el

We are going to make a major state­ment with some major tal­ent with our event cen­ter. We are going to bring some major tal­ent and rock n roll,” Bighorse said. In Feb­ru­ary of 2019, the 2,000 seat event cen­ter will be com­plet­ed. He went on to say that this aspect adds to their new gam­ing expe­ri­ence they have brought to Tul­sa. He added that it’s a very inti­mate set­ting that is mod­eled after the Brady The­atre in Tul­sa and even has VIP box­es in the mez­za­nine.

The future is look­ing bright based on the ini­tial open­ing response, accord­ing to Bighorse. He is already seek­ing approval for $30 mil­lion more dol­lars to add anoth­er hotel wing, spa, and a brand name steak­house. He is hop­ing that approval will come this month and is poised to begin this phase in ear­ly 2019 with com­ple­tion in ear­ly 2020.

The new Tul­sa Osage Casi­no in down­town Tul­sa brings a great enter­tain­ment expe­ri­ence with the new games, event cen­ter, and hotel,” said Osage Nation Prin­ci­pal Chief Geof­frey Stand­ing Bear. “This casi­no rev­enue pro­vides finan­cial sup­port of Osage lan­guage and cul­ture activ­i­ties, includ­ing the Osage lan­guage Immer­sion school. All prof­its go to edu­ca­tion, health, hous­ing, lan­guage, cul­ture, and the oth­er pro­grams for our Osage peo­ple. Con­grat­u­la­tions to all those involved in bring­ing this project into oper­a­tion.”

Colin Warde Follows His Yellow Brick Road: Oklahoma and The Film Industry

Colin Warde Follows His Yellow Brick Road: Oklahoma and The Film Industry

Col­in Warde and The Film Indus­try in Okla­homa

CL Har­mon

Have you ever won­dered what it’s like to work on a movie set and in the show­biz field? I have, and so I asked some­one who knows, a native Okla­homan who is a big part of the still small, yet grow­ing film-mak­ing indus­try in our state. His descrip­tions of his expe­ri­ences read much like a Show­biz 101 class for all those inter­est­ed in var­i­ous aspects of the field while giv­ing insight as to what it’s like to pur­sue a career in the film and tele­vi­sion career. This Still­wa­ter res­i­dent recent­ly spoke to Unique­la­homa about fol­low­ing his yel­low brick road to a field of dreams amid an indus­try where jobs come and then are gone with the wind.

Col­in Warde is one of the thou­sands of cogs in a machine nec­es­sary for the pro­duc­tion of any prod­uct. As with any func­tion­ing piece of machin­ery, each cog, nut, bolt, and han­dle is a must if the machine is to keep run­ning smooth­ly. Over the past ten years, Warde has played many roles in the big machine that projects new worlds on the big screen and the small one. His role in this capac­i­ty has led him to work in many places and among many fas­ci­nat­ing peo­ple. But just as Dorothy on her yel­low brick road, his path too leads him back home too. And there is no place like home…to be in the movie indus­try!

Behind The Scenes

Warde’s dream was not that of the actor who wants to make it big in Hol­ly­wood. Although he does act on occa­sion, he always felt that the act­ing gig was finan­cial­ly volatile. He, instead, chose a dream of doing some­thing that he enjoyed which was still men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly chal­leng­ing. As an Eagle Scout, he had been chal­lenged, and that was some­thing he want­ed in a career as well. Although unaware at the time in 2003 that work­ing in the film indus­try was the path he would fol­low, an invi­ta­tion to work with a friend on an ama­teur film project would set him on that course. His friend and fel­low stu­dent at OSU asked him to act in a hor­ror movie. (Think Blair Witch Project type of film.) How­ev­er, the act­ing didn’t intrigue him as much as every­thing else did.

It wouldn’t take long before he began to real­ize how many dif­fer­ent aspects are in involved in mak­ing a movie. As this was low bud­get, there wasn’t any mon­ey to pay for all of these dif­fer­ent aspects, and so his friend was jug­gling them all on his own. This issue became an oppor­tu­ni­ty for Warde to begin work­ing behind the scenes to help out his friend. After grad­u­a­tion, he was unsure as to which direc­tion to go. He was not sure about act­ing, but he felt some­thing in the enter­tain­ment field was call­ing to him. He ini­tial­ly thought Chica­go was a good place to get his feet wet…he was wrong. There just wasn’t a mar­ket there at that time.

FILM 101

The lack of mar­ket has become a real­i­ty that I deal with all of the time, Warde said. He was learn­ing how quick­ly the wind of for­tune can sweep in and how quick­ly they can be gone to the wind. He moved back to Okla­homa and set­tled in the city (OKC). He had bought into all the hype of crime and gang activ­i­ty in Los Ange­les and New York City, and it had made him uneasy about mov­ing out to one of those places where there was a thriv­ing mar­ket. As such, he was at a stand­still. Then his moth­er sug­gest­ed that he check out Okla­homa City Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege because she had been told that it had a very good film and video pro­gram. At first, he was skep­ti­cal. After all, this was Okla­homa, not exact­ly a mec­ca for the film indus­try.

His skep­ti­cism was laid to rest though when he learned that Fritz Kier­sch, Direc­tor of Chil­dren of the Corn and Gray Fred­er­ick­son, Co-Pro­duc­er of The God­fa­ther Part II and Apoc­a­lypse Now were teach­ing class­es in the pro­gram. So at 25 years of age and with a Bach­e­lor Degree already in hand, he became a stu­dent again and loved it. His involve­ment there would lead to an inter­est­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty. Kier­sch and Fred­er­ick­son were pro­duc­ing a hor­ror movie enti­tled “The Hunt” over spring break and nat­u­ral­ly put out that they were look­ing for help.

The Tie That Binds

I have a friend who always tells this sto­ry about me. While all of the oth­er stu­dents were show­ing up for inter­views in sweat­shirts and dressed like they were going for a job at Piz­za Hut, I came with a tie and resume pre­pared for a pro­fes­sion­al inter­view. He found out lat­er Kier­sch had said he hired him as soon as he saw he was wear­ing a tie. He was employed as a pro­duc­tion assis­tant and had a great time learn­ing how a movie gets made. He con­tin­ued liv­ing in OKC and began mak­ing con­tacts and build­ing his resume by work­ing in pro­duc­tion depart­ments one movie or com­mer­cial at a time in the mar­ket that was grow­ing in Okla­homa.

Warde explained that when peo­ple see you on set and notice that you work hard and show up on time, some­one will even­tu­al­ly ‚“scoop you up and ask you what you like doing and what inter­ests you‚”. When this hap­pened to him, he end­ed up in the art depart­ment, which con­sists of the set and props. Some­thing about cre­at­ing an atmos­phere and devel­op­ing an ambiance appealed to him. This would ben­e­fit him great­ly when he moved to Los Ange­les. He was lured out there by a friend who got him a job on a tele­vi­sion series. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, that mid-sea­son replace­ment didn’t  go any­where, and four months lat­er he was out of a job, but not for long. He then worked on the Jeff Gold­blum cop show, Raines. Work­ing in tele­vi­sion was excit­ing for him even though the shows he worked on did not mate­ri­al­ize into long-run­ning series.

Winds of Fortune

But hey I was work­ing in LA, and it was excit­ing,” Warde said. He explains that every­thing on tele­vi­sion as far as suc­cess and longevi­ty is like throw­ing spaghet­ti at the wall and see­ing what sticks. Because of this, one might get on a show and have a job for ten years or one that lasts only a few months. He explains the type of is work like an adren­a­line rush where there is intense ener­gy fol­lowed by a calm noth­ing­ness. The film and tele­vi­sion indus­try is not a steady pay­check, but there are so many avenues in show busi­ness with so many peo­ple involved that one can usu­al­ly find work of one sort or anoth­er. A phone call from a net­work exec­u­tive who remem­bered him from the first series he worked on remem­bered him and offered him a job that count­less peo­ple must have envied.

ENERGIZE!

Nobody knew that I had been watch­ing Star Trek my entire life when they hand­ed me the keys and code to the build­ing with all of it‚ every­thing from the fran­chise! Warde was a huge fan who had just been giv­en the respon­si­bil­i­ty to sort, cat­e­go­rize and sell the entire lot of mem­o­ra­bil­ia from one of the most suc­cess­ful fran­chis­es in cin­e­mat­ic his­to­ry. He was in awe, and although it was not what he came to LA to do, he couldn’t turn it down. The tough­est part was decid­ing what had to be destroyed. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, not all of it could be sold. This was “heart­break­ing” he said. There were six ware­hous­es of every­thing from phasers to cos­tumes to large set com­po­nents. “It looked just like the ware­house in the Indi­ana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark with crate upon crate in a des­o­late loca­tion. Over the next three years, he ran online auc­tions aver­ag­ing $100,000 per week in sales while mak­ing a very good liv­ing for him­self. Although he was not work­ing on a set at the time, it was an incred­i­ble oppor­tu­ni­ty to be work­ing in an atmos­phere of such his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance.

The Voy­age Home

Sad­ly though, all good things come to an end. With­out anoth­er job lined up and a child on the way, the next step up was the voy­age home. He came back to Okla­homa, became a father and began rein­vent­ing him­self to fit into what was hap­pen­ing, pro­duc­tion-wise at home. At that time, com­mer­cials were the big thing, and he found him­self immersed in that aspect of it, again in the art depart­ment. The tim­ing was per­fect. The Okla­homa City Thun­der had become a big deal, and sud­den­ly huge com­pa­nies like Nike and ESPN among oth­ers were there to cash in. This influx of new busi­ness made his tal­ents in the art depart­ment very valu­able. He was local and avail­able. All of his hard work and patience was pay­ing off.

August Through December Osage County

I was hun­gry and fierce. It was awe­some! I was build­ing my kit and all of my equip­ment and gear,” he said. All of the com­mer­cials would final­ly lead to his big oppor­tu­ni­ty in Okla­homa, work­ing on August: Osage Coun­ty with an all-star cast includ­ing Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Chris Coop­er, Ewan McGre­gor and Sam Shep­ard among oth­ers. An inter­est­ing fact from behind the scenes, Warde said that August Osage actu­al­ly went all the way into Decem­ber Osage. As per his job of keep­ing the set look­ing like it was sum­mer (Set Con­ti­nu­ity), the art depart­ment was paint­ing the grass green and using zip ties to replace fall­en leaves from the trees. There is no busi­ness like show busi­ness as the say­ing goes. Since his return to Okla­homa, he has become one of, if not the top art per­son in Okla­homa. This accom­plish­ment is some­thing he is very proud of and val­i­da­tion that he has been on the right road these past ten years. He also now works in pro­duc­tion design as well which puts him work­ing with the direc­tors on the over­all feel of the pro­duc­tion.
Warde has worked with and loves men­tor­ing peo­ple and con­sid­ers him­self a teacher to those who tru­ly have a desire to work in the indus­try. Dur­ing his career, he has had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work in a lot of loca­tions due to his desire to be a part of the film indus­try. Also, just like Film 101, he is always will­ing to teach new­com­ers how to find their role and become part of the big­ger pic­ture that is movie mak­ing.

X