“Working with Veterans makes me feel like I’m still contributing to the military cause,” said U.S. Army Veteran David Theriot of BatonRouge, La. That natural affinity for service along with his own military record made him a natural to help develop the highly successful Veterans Employment Program at Art Favre’s company, Performance Contractors Inc., in 2013.
Theriot was born into the military. His dad was an Army finance officer, and, after starting life in Fort Hood, Texas, young David moved with his family to places like Germany, Virginia, and England before finally settling in Louisiana.“ I joined the Louisiana National Guard in 1997,” he told us. “I’d always known that I needed to serve when I was old enough. It’s a family tradition going back many generations, and I hope one day one of my kids will continue the tradition.”
What started stateside would end up with Theriot in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2004. “I left the service six months after coming back from that deployment,” he said. “My reserve obligations were up and it was time to hang up the Kevlar. I toyed with the idea of going back a few times over the years because I miss service, but I’m satisfied that I’ve done my part and my commitments to my wife and kids are more important now.”
Still, returning to civilian life was not easy. He needed to figure out what he’d like to do as a career.
“Afghanistan gave me a sense of what’s truly important,” he said. “Interacting with and observing the daily life of locals in that type of situation really opens your eyes. It changed my perspective and my personality immensely for the better. One of the most useful skills I acquired is the ability, during difficult times, to get out of my own head and see the larger picture at play.”
Where does a newly-returned-to-civilian-life guy go with such skills? Theriot described having done retail and telecommunication sales after high school, working himself up to area manager of three cell-phone stores before his commitment to the Guard sent him to Afghanistan.
Once his deployment was over and he came home, he said, “I found I’d lost my passion for making sales. I switched to the restaurant business while at Southeastern Louisiana University.”
After five years at the same job, and with his newly minted degree in hand, he became general manager of the restaurant.
All and all, he logged seven years in that business. Sometimes, however, life tells you to take a leap into the unknown–to try something new.
“I had met a lot of people and made contacts at my job,” he recalled when asked how he came to work for Favre. “Mr. Art always stood out. I knew I wanted to work for him.” As it turned out, Favre himself had an idea of where in his company–which was about as different from the restaurant business as you could get–he could use this young, hardworking Veteran.
“When he started working for us, I asked Dave what he knew about Vets coming out of the service and finding jobs,” Favre told us. “We were always looking for good workers and had a program hiring and training high-school graduates. But we really needed people who already had the kind of attributes you find among the military.” That meant disciplined people who had self-confidence and teamwork skills.
Theriot did indeed know how to go about finding them, and he knew exactly how most Vets would respond to opportunities to enter well-paying, career-level jobs ranging from industrial estimator to the building crafts and beyond. “Since the program started,” he noted, “Performance has hired more than 1,444 military Veterans.” He seems proud of that, as well he should be.
We also found that Performance Contractors has been ranked no. 8 on the top 10 “MilitaryFriendly® Employer” roster in the $1B-and-above category for private U.S. companies. That’s no small thing. Moreover, the fact that Performance is specifically eager to hire Vets is symptomatic of the great potential this nation’s young people still bring to the table, and the incredibly valuable training that potential responds to in the hands of our top-notch American military.