2013-07-05 / Neighbors
Another step toward recovery
Simi Valley computer company provides jobs to former addicts
She was determined to prove them wrong, and after six months of physical therapy Henrich had taught herself to eat and walk again.
The then-36-year-old had been in a coma because her liver and kidneys had failed from heavy alcohol abuse. She drank about a gallon of vodka a day.
Before slipping into a coma, Henrich experienced trouble breathing because her lungs had begun to fill up with fluid. She went to the emergency room expecting to make it home to her daughter, Morgan, and her parents the same day.
“Doctors told my parents I might have severe brain damage after what happened,” Henrich said. “When my vital signs started getting low, my parents began picking out a gravesite for me. When I finally came to, there was so much ammonia in my brain that I was hallucinating. It took a while for the fogginess to go away.”
Now five years sober with the help of a 12-step program, Henrich is a sales representative and top performer for Coast To Coast Computer Products, a Simi Valleybased company that sells printing and imaging supplies and software and provides on-site service.
The company was started in Van Nuys in 1985 by Rick Roussin, 52, a recovering addict who met many of his current employees through a 12-step program. At meetings he would talk about Coast To Coast and people would approach him for work.
“When people are newly sober, they don’t have a job,” Roussin said. “People won’t hire them because of a tainted past.”
The majority of Roussin’s employees who come from a recovery program are members of his sales team. Seven out of 10 of the top sales representatives at Coast To Coast have come from or are part of a program. Roussin counts a total of 325 years of sobriety among his employees who were in a 12-step program.
He believes a sales position can help a recovering addict channel their newfound energy and see a positive outcome. In 2012, the company made $50 million, its best results to date.
“In the 27 years this company has been around, 26 of those years I’ve seen growth,” Roussin said. “We’re hoping to surpass the $50 million this year and we’re pretty close.”
Roussin once worked as a sales representative, but he didn’t like the restrictions, such as a rigid schedule and daily goals, that sometimes accompany a commission-based position. At Coast To Coast, Roussin believes in rewarding hard work and offers various perks for his sales representatives.
He created three sales tiers— bronze, gold and platinum—that each representative can achieve. Each tier gives employees the opportunity to be more flexible with their work schedule. Roussin said this helps them stay happy and provides a comfortable work environment.
Catherine Olwell, vice president of sales, believes in Roussin’s philosophy. Having previously worked as the manager of a clothing store, where she earned about $80,000 a year, Olwell, 50, took a 75 percent pay cut when she chose to work for Coast To Coast.
She doesn’t regret her decision. She still attends a 12-step program and has helped more than 15 others get jobs at the company.
“The company allows people to grow as a person, not just their income,” Olwell said. “The spiritual growth you can achieve here is great.”
Coast To Coast moved to Simi Valley in 2007, and Roussin said it was the best choice he’s made.
“I love Simi Valley and I’m glad I’ve been able to employ people who need help within the community,” he said. “I’ve had people who’ve lived outside of Simi move here.”
Before working at Coast To Coast, Henrich lived at home with her parents and daughter. She now owns her own car and her own home, and she’s staying healthy.
She is grateful for her job, and said the company has taught her how to live life again.
“What’s helped the company is Rick’s support in anything (his employees) do,” Henrich said. “He understands us and there’s no limit to do anything we want.”