business

Jay T. Wampler

Jay T. Wampler grabs a few drinks down at City Tavern across for Third Rail Lofts where he lives, a couple blocks down from the Bank of America Plaza tower, with a T-shirt tucked into blue jeans. He wants to be comfortable and enjoy himself after a long day at Bank of America Plaza where he is the managing director of Bank of America’s Global Corporate and Investment Banking Special Assets Group for the Americas.

Though he’s been drinking, he keeps perfect posture and clear words as he talks of his love for his job. He’s never wanted another job.

“I love the ability to take companies that are in financial distress and mend them back to health. When you do that you create a customer for life,” Jay says slowly, pausing after each word in the second sentence to prove the importance of each word. The only thing that bothers him are all the financial regulations on banks right.

“It’s out of control,” Jay says. “I deal with it day by day and do what I got to do.”

Jay has been working in restructuring since 1988. He started out in the largest Bank of America group working with multinational companies; but about a year and a half into his career, he was asked if he wanted to go to the work out group.

“I was 24, 25 years old and jumped at the opportunity to have my own portfolio,” Jays says as he looks over to the green lights pausing for moment. “If I had gone the other direction, I would have been a bagman for a senior vice president basically just doing his grunt work for him.”

At Bank of America, Jay has had great opportunities for travel. He loves to take his wife, a retired stay-at-home mom, whenever he goes.

“I tag along two or three extra days and take her with me and we have the most incredible time,” Jay says with a smile. Her favorite place is probably Key West, Napa Valley or New York City. He doesn’t know his.

Unlike many north Texas residents who live in the burbs but work in Corporate America, Jay loves the last two years he has spent living downtown. He loves that everything is within walking distance from his loft that he shares with his wife and doesn’t have to drive anywhere.

Jay and his wife moved downtown when his two boys left the house. His older son is working for an executive recruiting firm and his younger son is a senior at OSU completing his bachelor’s in business administration before moving on into an MBA like his father.

Jay likes to treat people the way he wants to be treated. He’s a trusting man and treats his subordinates like he treats his sons, he’s there to guide them and lead them but holds them accountable for their actions. He’s a loyal boss and friend, who always has the backs of his coworkers and makes sure not to micromanage.

“I let them do their thing and I trust them and they know I trust them,” Jay says. “I have a great relationship with everyone at my job.”

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Corporate trainer, downtown dallas, Marriott hotels, Washington D.C., travel, business

Scott Thurston

Scott Thurston sits wolfing down a grilled sandwich at Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop on a cold Wednesday in February. He’s never eaten at one of the chain’s restaurants before but seems to be enjoying his sandwich and the break from walking around in the cold.

Thurston, originally from Florida, has lived and worked in Washington D.C. for years and is here on business the next morning. Scott, a freelance corporate trainer, is in Dallas to visit a client. Companies hire him to come and do events to get their employees to work better together.

“When a lot more companies downsize there is always a lot more opportunities to do more with us,” Scott says, “I’ve been here before but I wouldn’t say we have a lot of clients here. Most of our clients are in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.”

His first job out of college where he earned a degree in hospitality took him to D.C. where he worked at a Marriott hotel and through the different management positions, until he ended up in the corporate offices as a corporate trainer and found his niche for the training and development of people.

When Marriott downsized, Scott started working on his own and has been doing freelance for nearly ten years.

With anyone who freelances the lack of consistent pay is always a challenge but Scott couldn’t be happier and says the best thing about it is never having to work with the same people every day.

“The days of working for one company for 20 years are gone and people need to embrace change and find a passion,” Scott says between the last mouthfuls of his sandwich, “Once they find a passion they won’t be happier doing anything else in their life- wherever that passion takes them whether it be freelance or working for multiple companies.”

Scott throws away his trash and looks hesitant to leave. Usually the weather is his favorite thing about Dallas.

Marketing, Chief Marketing Officer, Dallas, Downtown Dallas, Rancher, Entrepreneur, City Tavern

Nathan Bellah

A man with shaggy hair, a beard and nice clothes sits alone at a table in City Tavern drinking his first cocktail of the night listening to the live music, The Southland Swing Band. But mostly, he’s listening to the conversations around him, wondering who he’ll meet tonight.

Nathan Bellah lives across the street in Third Rail Lofts. He’s an experienced downtown resident and previously lived in the Davis Building and the Mosaic. Buildings within walking distance of the bar.

A while back, he bought a house in East Dallas for a little while and just sold it. “It was just a hell of a deal man, so I just had to buy,” Nathan says.

Overnight, the housing market in East Dallas boomed, and he knew it was time to sell. The day after he put it on the market, it sold. “I was like, oh shit,” he said. “I don’t have anywhere to go. So I was like, I guess I’ll move back downtown.”

He’s lived downtown for about six months and considers City Tavern his Cheers. He’s met people from all over the country and the world, people in the city for a while on vacation and business trips and people on a two-hour layover who just needed a drink, people who work as janitors and starving artists to elite businessmen and popular musicians. To Nathan, City Tavern is the best place he can meet interesting people and that’s what he’s here to do.

Two young men, barely old enough to drink, walk away from the bar, each holding a beer they look too eager to drink. The band wraps up a song, and Nathan hears the two men mention digital marketing, so he takes the opportunity to strike.

Nathan is a jack of all trades, a human Swiss Army knife. Nathan has two companies. One company is a ranch here in Texas that raises and trains rodeo bulls.

After the initial icebreakers, they start to talk about themselves. The boys mention that they’re from the area and have had hard times finding jobs. They’re full of the dreams of inexperienced entrepreneurs.

“I grew up in Lubbock and I’ve tried to fight those roots for a very long time,” Nathan says. “But after a while, you realize that living in Texas you have to give in to working in either oil or agriculture.” It stemmed from there. We’re blessed. He and his friend, two young guys just like them, were doing well. “I asked my buddy, what do we do with some of this extra money we have. He said to me, ‘You know what? Let’s buy a bull.’”

They all laugh.

“You know, you’re dealing with the salt of the earth,” Nathan said. “The people, in the business have been very helpful, even though you’re competing against them.”

Nathan says that in the business, everybody knows everybody and it’s like a family.

“My buddy and I stick out like sore thumbs,” he says. “You know, he’s covered in tattoos and I wear like New Balances and have some tats too and when we show up, everyone is like ‘oh shit here they come,’ just excited for us to be there. It’s cool.”

Nathan considers himself an entrepreneur from the start. “I guess I’ve always had it in me,” he says. “Just like I’m sure you do too.”

The conversation shifts and the boys talk about themselves some more. They had an idea for a company they wanted to start when they were in school. They weren’t doing too well in their classes, and uninterested in continuing their education, jumped at some advice to pursue their dreams. The dreams failed, and they started to look for other jobs with little success.

Nathan says that like them, he sucked at college, but finished. He grew up in Lubbock and decided to go to Texas Tech for a year, but ended up transferring to the University of North Texas. After bouncing around a few majors, the Entrepreneur decided to double major in rhetorical studies and Spanish, instead of something like business administration.

“I ended up really liking the communications department and the next thing you know I am back in Spanish which I hadn’t taken since junior high, why not get a degree in it?”

Nathan says the coolest thing that probably ever happened was in his first three jobs out of college working for the man, he got laid off. Each one, laid off. One after another. He ended up going to work for The Bear Stearns Companies, Inc. Nathan finally landed a job where he wasn’t laid off, but quit instead.

“I met a man who is now 63 working in digital technology with a resume you wouldn’t believe,” he says. “He has been my mentor to this day.”

The man had a small private company in 2005 and asked Nathan to jump on board randomly, so he left Bear Stearns.

“I left this job at corporate America at a company with roots so thick you wouldn’t think anyone could tear the tree down,” Nathan says.

It was the biggest gamble of his life and they still work together to this day. They have made good money together and helped a lot of companies out. It was a good role of the dice.

“I mean this guy headed up the YTK project for the US postal service so his level of knowledge in digital is extensive plus he’s a tinkerer, he’s a genius, let’s say that, he’s a genius,” Nathan says. “He’s got some strategies that he developed that are on the cutting edge of digital marketing. God, that’s so boring to even say, but yeah, we’re going to use him for some things.”

They all have another sip of their drinks and look at the stage as the band begins to play an old Duke Ellington dance hit, “It Don’t Mean A Thing.”

“I always say dance with the person that brought you and he’s just been a good person,” Nathan says, emphasized by a slight Texas drawl.

Nathan jumped ship at the right time since Bear Stearns shut down in the 2008 financial crisis and was sold to JPMorgan Chase.

“I kind of wish I would have been laid off. I would have had a severance package,” he tells the boys. One almost spits out their beer as they snort with laughter.

“You don’t have to be worried about what’s happening now,” Nathan says. You need to be worried about what’s going to happen.”

“How do we do that?” one asks Nathan as the other looks panicky.

“You go and learn, you know, you always learn,” Nathan says. Not the answer they were expecting. “You try to better yourself.”

“We don’t have any money,” they say to Nathan.

“If you can’t gamble on yourself, who can you gamble on? If you can’t gamble on what you love, what can you gamble on?” Nathan says.

Nathan goes on to discuss his most recent gamble, a job as the Chief Marketing Officer for a company he’s launching with his best friend soon. Menguin will be an “online tuxedo rental solution” for all the men in major metro areas that hate to go out to Men’s Warehouse or Joseph A. Bank.  Now you can now go online, build your tuxedo, rent it right there.

“We actually have a technology that will measure within an eighth of an inch using your computer camera,” Nathan said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”

The boys show some enthusiasm, ask a few questions about the tech but their eyes sparkled with the hope of a job, from their new mentor. One, shaking, looks at the other who nods. His voice wavers as he asks Nathan for a job.

“That just tells me right there you don’t believe enough in yourself to even go and get higher education, like step outside, change the game, change the game, that’s it,” he says to the bewildered faces. “That’s all I could ever ask. I always say this, impress me. Impress me.”

The boys can tell the conversation is over when Nathan spots a documentary producer he met the week before and walks away.

protest, trade agreement, businessman, Dallas

Edward Griffin

Edward Griffin sits in the sunshine and cool breeze blowing through Klyde Warren Park. The 25-year Dallas resident, originally from Pittsburgh, is a businessman and owns his own grant consulting firm. He wears a black long-sleeve shirt, with a white undershirt mirroring his short graying hair, to keep him warm as he reads the latest edition of the Dallas Morning News like he normally does.

He sets the paper on to the chessboard table to flip to the sports section and checks the expensive watch on his left wrist.  It’s jeans day for other people in the park, but today Edward wears jeans for comfort as he protests the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

“The protest went pretty good as far as I can guess,” Edward said. “Unfortunately I came pretty late.” Edward was still able to participate, staying back to pass out leaflets as the others marched onward. His mission, to educate the public on something he doesn’t know much about.

“I was like, what is this?” he said. “Basically, it’s some kind of trade deal they’re trying like the NAFTA deal.”

Edward’s problem is that the trade deal is relatively secret, he said with a fading smile. There have been news articles about it over the past eight years, but few and far between with little to no enlightenment on the trade agreement. It was only on November 13, 2013 that WikiLeaks first leaked “Secret TPP treaty: Advanced Intellectual Property chapter for all 12 nations with negotiating positions” documents.

The concern in his voice is easily heard. “Why don’t we know about it? If it’s such a good deal, why did nobody hear about it?”

Edward Griffin tries to be well read and thinks reading is the best way to stay open-minded. He reads the news every day, investigating the validity of articles himself. His brow tightens, wrinkling his forehead as he tries to stay open-minded about something he can’t understand.  He’s not just here to educate the public, but to educate himself.

“That’s why I was trying to come,” he said. “When I heard about the protest, I’m like, let’s investigate and see what this is first. I want to know what it is.”

Edward is a part of the organization protesting today, Texas Organizing Priorities.

It’s a beautiful day for Edward Griffin. Edward thinks it went well, and smiles as he wraps up his daily reading, setting his hand on top of the paper blowing in the wind.

Read more about the TPP agreement at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Washington College of Law

Dallas, homeless, parole

GPiizy

His name is Christopher Morgan but they call him GPiizy. He’s from Dallas, Texas but he was born in Garland, Texas, you know what I’m saying.

He’s GPiizy and he has been struggling all his life.

“I been through prison two three times, you know what I’m saying,” he said all pissed off. His birthday is coming up on April 29 and he gets the perfect gift. He gets off parole.

“Look bro, honestly, I gone have jobs. I have school. I been doing everything to get my life together,” he said. “And this morning man, everything went kapoop.”

It’s like this right here, “When you don’t have nothing like I have been all my life, been messed up all my life, you know what I’ve been saying, going back and forth to prison and at the same time trying to get myself together.

GPiizy had everything invested in him and his woman. They were going to start a business together but his investment tanked.

“You want to write a book? If you wrote a book about me and this dude right here, your book will go platinum,” he said, laughing at his friend who was trying to pick up a girl walking past. “I guarantee you.”

This morning was the beginning of the end. Everything went haywire and now he’s homeless.

“Man, look, I’m at a point in my life right now where I even went to the homeless shelter this morning to try to just go to the bottom to come back up,” he said with a hope in his eye that put a smile on his pissed off face.

“I had everything, you know what I’m saying, as far as my business school taking care of my business,” he said. “I been with this woman and this morning we had a spat.”

Her sister is a preacher and her brother lived with them.

“I was taking her to work man I got pissed off bro, and it clicked,” he said.

Christopher Morgan was trying to start a business called the mobile dollar. He was going to do “like a vending thing.” He was even going to have food, but now can’t afford to feed himself.

“The food was going to be the main thing,” GPiizy said, “but it was going to be called the mobile dollar because everybody go’n around town trying to get stuff for a dollar.”

GPiizy knows his company was going to be a great investment because people can’t leave out of downtown “to like get stuff.”

“I was going to make my money and become a millionaire of my mobile dollar. I had everything drawed up, my plans drawed up and everything,” he said.

Christopher Morgan was going to have a cart. He even had food and everything already. But this morning it all ended.

“I don’t know what’s going on with my life bro.”