A tribute to a hard-working dad

Marketplace Staff Jun 15, 2007

A tribute to a hard-working dad

Marketplace Staff Jun 15, 2007


TESS VIGELAND: It’s Father’s Day this weekend. So I’d like to take this moment to send a shout-out to my Dad, Ted Vigeland, and all the other awesome Dads out there.

In honor of the occasion, reporter Kevin Palmer sent us this story.

KEVIN PALMER: For years, Ron Busby spent every day at the country club. He was picking up golf balls on the driving range for five bucks an hour. It was his only income to support two small children after his wife passed away. And he did it without complaining.

RON BUSBY: I had a dad who worked hard, had two or three jobs. I had a mother who was a teacher, so she believed in getting an education. In my generation, we believed the key to success was education.

Busby is the son of a janitor. His father ran a tiny business cleaning offices and houses in Oakland, Calif.

BUSBY: In my community, there weren’t very many affluent people. The first affluent person I met was at a track meet, and this guy happened to be a dentist. He was an African American, and I was like, “Wow, this is how I want to live.” So I decided when I was in ninth grade, I wanted to be a dentist. A year later, I met another guy that was doing very well financially and I asked him what he did, and he said that he was an insurance agent. So I said, “Oh great, I want to be an insurance agent.” For me, it was always not necessarily the job, but the lifestyle that I was looking to do. And the career helped get the lifestyle.

Now, Busby is president of American Janitorial Services. That’s a nationwide company with more than 200 workers. His conservative dark suit might scream corporate America, but he started at the very bottom of the business ladder.

BUSBY: I went to McDonald’s to work in their minority franchise program, where I was flipping burgers, counting change and sweeping and mopping floors.

After his experience at McDonalds, he returned to Oakland to help his dad’s fledgling janitorial business. And then he went out on his own and started his own company. He says perseverance is more important than popularity.

BUSBY: Don’t get caught up on the guy who’s the hero, or the guy that’s the most visible. If you look on the shows, the MTV Cribes and all these hype shows, they always show the one guy. And I say, well, let’s look at his neighborhood. Who else is there? What are they doing? Let’s not caught up on the basketball, the football player. But there are a lot of folks that, you know, live in his community that are doing successful as well. Let’s concentrate on them.

And what he concentrates on is what his family taught him years ago: the value of hard work.

In Phoenix, I’m Kevin Palmer for Marketplace Money.

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