“Years and years ago, we had something called shop class in our high schools,” said Ken Rusk, owner of Everdry Waterproofing of Toledo. “That got replaced, back in the 80’s, by rooms of computers. Which is fine, because we needed to learn those skills. At the same time, (however), it eliminated the chance for a lot of kids who would have grown up to be carpenters, plumbers or welders, any of those types of trades, from experiencing those things because they disappeared from the schools.”
Rusk knows the value of blue collar, get-your-hands-dirty work. At the age of 15, he went to work digging ditches. By 19, he was helping Everdry to launch its national franchise program. At 23, he moved to the Glass City, opening his own Everdry office. Rusk now employs over 200 people.
Through it all, Rusk, now 56, has not lost sight of the value and fulfillment that can be found through honest labor. He is now communicating that value to readers with his new book, Blue Collar Cash: Love Your Work, Secure Your Future, and Find Happiness for Life, published by HarperCollins.
Supply and demand
“What I wanted to do was to remove the stigma of blue collar work, and celebrate the fact that there are so many opportunities right now, with the law of supply and demand being so prevalent,” Rusk said.
Speaking with him, you can tell that Rusk knows how to talk to people. He’d been talking to his employees for years, offering advice, sitting down with paper and pen, and fashioning a battle plan for what they would consider personal success. “I had been coaching a lot of people within my own organization here at Everdry. That formula became successful enough that [it] started to spill out beyond the four walls of my company.”
The positive feedback to his one-on-one presentations led to encouragement to put his ideas on paper. Rusk. who had never written before, has never been one to back down because something would be a challenge. The writing process took about three years. “It’s a book that can help you think of different ways to gain success that don’t necessarily involve the traditional path of college,” Rusk said.
“If you think about it, if everybody is going one way, and that’s towards college, then somebody should be thinking about going the other way. Because college was never meant for everybody. It was meant for many people, but it was never meant for everyone, or else who would do things like build our roads, or build our houses, and do all the things we need to do to keep our world moving?”
Finding your own path
Rusk sees major opportunities for traditional, more physical labor, particularly in the months and years post-pandemic. “There’s this undeserved stigma that’s attached to it. If you think about it, the herd mentality would say that if everyone is taking this particular path and I’m not, am I different or am I less than those other people?
“What I’m hoping to do is to get people to understand that blue collar work actually built this country. It is a very honorable (way to earn a living). And now, it’s more lucrative than ever.”
Rusk hopes to inspire readers to understand the power they have in shaping their own way— in all facets of their journey. “I really want people to realize that, more than anything, they have so much more control over their destiny than they think that they do. It’s one thing to allow life to happen to you. It’s another thing for you to happen to life.”
Blue Collar Cash is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Apple Books.