From adversity, a bond is forged


I didn’t go to college, so going into my twenties my employment options were thin and I ended up in retail. I ended up working crazy inconsistent hours and working for people who didn’t care about me. After suffering through one particularly horrible store manager, I vowed to myself that I would never be unhappy at work again. It’s where I spent the majority of my time so I wanted to be valued and appreciated.

As I pondered my departure from the world of retail, I surveyed my options. I’ve never seen myself cleaning out public toilets and didn’t fancy myself qualified to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. But I thought I might shine as a receptionist. Truth be told, I had always envisioned myself answering phones and filling out customer paperwork. So when I saw an ad in April 2011 for a part-time receptionist position with AGS Stainless, Inc. a small business in Washington State manufacturing and fabricating stainless steel railing systems, I applied. And to my delight I was hired. After the first week at AGS, I knew it was the place I wanted to be. Training in a new field can be tough but they were patient with me. More importantly, I was treated as person who mattered, even on my rough days. By the end of April I was hired full time.

On a quiet Saturday evening in July, I was awaked by my husband telling me to get out of the house. Within a few hours, we were homeless. Our house had burned to the ground. My husband and I were left with the clothes on our backs and what few possessions we had in our cars. After a brief effort to pretend I still had a house, I returned to reality. I had to start again and I began by calling work to let them know about the fire and that given the circumstances I wasn’t going to be in on Monday. In fact I didn’t return to work for a week.


The following Tuesday I returned to work and was met with hugs, well wishes and sympathy from my co-workers. Angelo and Gary, the owners of AGS, asked me to stop by their offices. They told me how much they valued me and how they appreciated the hard work I had put in in the time I had worked at AGS. They told me that AGS would pay me for the previous week even though I wasn’t at work and handed me a $500 check to help us replace some of the things the fire had taken from us. Best of all, Angelo offered my husband and I a small furnished home rent-free until we found something more suitable. I had tears in my eyes, these people had only known me since April and it wasn’t something they had to do. This type of caring and support offered to an employee, a fairly new employee to boot, is not something you will find every day. The gifts they offered were appreciated beyond measure.

My husband is in the military and we knew the day would come when he would receive orders. I was deeply saddened to have to leave my reception job at AGS that I loved, and more importantly to leave the people I worked with and for. All of us would joke that my husband could move on to his new duty station without me! When my husband’s orders came through, I turned in my notice and was once again humbled by the generosity of Angelo, Gary and my family at AGS.


AGS had created a position for me that would keep me in the AGS family and follow me around the country to my husband’s various duty-stations. Today I work from home creating blog and social media content for AGS. My special job allows me to stay home and raise our baby daughter Cadence. Being able to support my family while at the same time being able to enjoy each and every moment of Cadence’s young life is truly a blessing. 


When people ask me where I work, I tell them this story. The American Dream is still alive, a dream where employers really care about their employees. Where we can be proud of our jobs and the company that employs us. I am proud to say I work at AGS!

About AGS Stainless: AGS Stainless Inc. manufactures the Clearview® line of railing systems. AGS is the unequivocal leader of its industry. For more information, visit: or call 888.842.9492.

5 thoughts on “From adversity, a bond is forged

  1. Awesome to hear how wonderful the ownership and team is at AGS!
    The opportunities will present themselves to people if they have the right attitude and are persistent in the pursuit of doing the right thing .
    I don’t know your name but I wish for you all that is great in life!
    Don’t sell yourself short on being a CEO.
    1. You are the CEO of your household.
    2. If you can dream it, plan it , and execute, anything is possible.
    Be well!

  2. Awesome story Kari, and I am not surprised at all by it. I have been friends with Gary and his family for the last six years and I’m proud to call them my friends!

  3. Not only is your story inspiring it’s also an encouragement. To know there are still good hearted American business owners that believe in opportunity. Kari you are well deserving! character is something no education/degree can teach 🙂

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