Michael C. Carnuccio, Guest Columnist for The Journal Record, posted the following article about Tri-State Industrial Group’s CEO, Gary Allison’s speech at Tuesday’s Rotary Club of Oklahoma City meeting on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
As I sat at Tuesday’s Oklahoma City Rotary Club 29 luncheon listening to Gary E. Allison, I couldn’t stop thinking about Ronald Reagan’s famous quote from his address to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce on March 30, 1961. Allison is the founder and CEO of Tri-State Industrial Group, the company he founded in May of 1983 – then Tri-State Electrical Contractors – after he became one of the countless casualties of the collapse of Penn Square Bank.
Allison’s moving story is one of triumph over tragedy. The self-made man has created wealth and opportunity for many out of starvation and chosen risk over safety.
The college dropout was working in a Chicago factory when, he said: “My government told me I was poor.” Having relocated his family back to Oklahoma and taken courses at the local technology center, Allison is a living example that every child doesn’t need to go to college to succeed in life.
An unabashed entrepreneur, Allison didn’t hesitate to remind the audience that because of capitalism, he now is able to give so much back to the community. His biography includes board leadership and being a significant benefactor to 13 high-profile charities in the state, including the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Sunbeam Family Services and Astec Charter Schools.
Such American success stories are happening all around us – everyday.
For the special-needs child who excels at school for the first time, it’s more than an A on a report card. It’s the gift of a promising future.
For the entrepreneur with the successful business, it’s more than an impressive resume. It’s the opportunity at a livelihood for him and hundreds of other families across our state and, possibly, the nation.
For the family burdened by the latest health care news, it’s a better tomorrow for their children – for all children.
It’s freedom, and that is worth fighting for.
Michael C. Carnuccio serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (www.ocpathink.org).
Watch Gary’s full speech, below: