Samuel Cole is a natural salesman and entrepreneur and a self-described “total gentleman.” Since returning home from five years of incarceration last year, he has secured steady employment that will get him back to his passion of working in sales.
Samuel was born and raised in West Memphis, Arkansas, as the oldest of six kids. He graduated high school in 1987 and attended Le Moyne College. He moved to Chicago a couple of years later, where he was playing professional football at Dupage. However, the team didn’t pay unless you made it to the playoffs and he needed to find work.
He started working a sales job and turned out to be so good at it that people assumed he’d done the job before. He’s “always had a great personality when it comes to dealing with people . . . I’ve been told I have this radio voice, so talking to people has always been one of my passions.” For nearly the next two decades, he worked for G.O’s Innovators, a company that sold magazines and publications. That job “took me from east coast to west coast for 18 years.” He was their top salesman, at one point selling to over 300 people in a period of 3 months, and he rose to the position of General Manager of the company. After that, he figured he had all the skills he needed to make it on his own. So, in 2006, he started his own sales business: Destiny Sales, which he ran for seven years.
In 2012, he was arrested for mail fraud, which carried a sentence of five years, six months and ten days in federal prison. He was released on July 5, 2018. In August of 2018, he met someone who worked for NLEN. He says, “The rest is history . . . You guys were a blessing the minute that I got there.” His career coach, Tonona, was his “biggest influence . . . She stayed on me about doing the things I needed to do” and “was always there when I needed her.” The whole staff “always had words of advice and words of encouragement for me.”
Tonona recalls that Samuel was a “model client” who served as a role model for many other clients. He was “patient, polite, and complied with everything that was asked of him.” He completed U-Turn Permitted and then Moving Forward, earning his CDL-B permit test on the first try – the only one in his CDL class to do so. He now has his CDL-A permit as well and he is in training to drive tractor trailers.
Samuel found permanent employment at Homan Square as a porter. He also works at the Rudd Container Corporation as a forklift driver. He is deeply committed to both jobs. Tonona says that he was threatened in the street a few times on his way to work, but, “instead of quitting his job, he started leaving for work an extra hour and a half early and took a route that was out of his way. He did what he had to do to maintain employment. Because of his dedication, Sam was able to purchase a vehicle in December 2018.” He also worked with the financial team to improve his credit.
In his free time, he prays frequently, watches movies, and spends time with his two grandchildren–two baby boys, a 9-month-old and a 1-year-old. His long-term goal is to open another sales company and get back into business for himself. He wants to be able to employ a lot of people and “give people opportunities the same way they were given to me.”