The Kid & The CEO

When Tom Pace, CEO of PaceButler, wrote the book “Mentor: The Kid and The CEO” he based the story on a real-life experience. However, in Pace’s world, mentoring young men to create a better future for themselves isn’t just a one-time occurrence — it’s a way of life, and troubled individuals seem to find their way to Pace.  Take Trey, for example.

At 17, Trey has lived more life than most 40-somethings. His mother signed away her parental rights when he was three. He was in and out of foster care until he was six when he went to live with his paternal grandmother. At eight, he went to live with his father. “He is an alcoholic and he didn’t want me in the house when he wasn’t there,” recalls Trey. “So I’d come home from school and if it was cold, I’d climb into an old truck and crawl under a bunch of blankets or sit out on the front porch until he came home…then he’d get me up at four in the morning the next day and lock me outside of the house until it was time to walk to school.”

Things escalated between Trey and his dad. “My father was physically abusive for pretty much any reason,” said Trey. “He’d accuse me of leaving the bread out, or blame me because there wouldn’t be anything to eat…but I was just a kid.” After a couple of years, Trey’s father started working as a truck driver and left for long periods of time. “When he’d drive, I’d be alone, which was okay because he wasn’t around to hurt me,” he said. “But then on the other hand, I wouldn’t have much to eat. He’d leave some ramen noodles, bread and sugar. If I was lucky, I’d get some milk and cereal.”

With his father on the road, Trey turned to membership in a south Oklahoma City gang to fulfill his desire to belong. “As if the gang and the abuse I was getting at home from my dad weren’t enough, when I was 14, my mom shows back up with four other kids. It was nuts,” recalls Trey. “So there I was, going from pretty much being alone, to having to get to know stepbrothers and sisters; and I couldn’t look at my mom without asking ‘why did you leave?’ When I was home, my dad was abusive, so I’d leave. And when I left, I was on the streets running with a gang, doing all kinds of crazy stuff…I was in really deep. It was bad.”

In December 2009, the stress finally reached its boiling point and 15-year-old Trey collapsed. When he was released from the hospital, Trey remembers his girlfriend being the one to encourage him to walk away from the gang and make a better life for himself. “I knew I wanted out but I had no idea how to do it. One of the things we talked about was Job Corps,” said Trey. He started with the Guthrie Job Corps in September 2010 and one of the first things he heard about was a group of people who went jogging Saturday mornings at Lake Hefner. “I’ve always loved running. Even if I was running away from a rival gang, I still loved it,” laughed Trey. “That first morning at the lake, I met Tom Pace.”

Meeting Pace, and other company staff made a significant impact on Trey’s life. The interaction with these men has been nothing but positive for someone who has only experienced chaos. “After meeting Tom, I got to spend a month shadowing him at his office,” said Trey. “He taught me so much. Mainly he expressed a tremendous amount of encouragement and he told me how the actions of my father don’t have to affect me. Tom also spent a lot of time sharing with me how I am in control of changing my life…he has talked to me about how I can start anew and become a leader. I’ve never had that much positive energy coming my way in such a short time. I also got to get real work experience on the computer doing data entry and in the warehouse. It was a great opportunity to get to work in an office environment, even if it was just for a short time.”

“The biggest deal was when Tom asked me to come spend the weekend at his house to meet his family. We went to church, hung out…,” laughs Trey. “That weekend was a very different environment from what I grew up in, but it was good to see what ‘good’ normal was as opposed to what my normal was… and the bed I got to sleep in was so comfortable…I’m going to have a bed just like that one of these days!”

The polite young man is looking forward to a bright future. He received his high school diploma, completed his trade coursework in office administration at Job Corps and is starting college at OCCC. “The last nine months have been life-changing,” said Trey. “Meeting Tom Pace has just lit a fire in me to believe that I can do well in life despite how things started out. Guthrie Job Corps gave me a safe place to stay, food to eat, they helped me finish my high school diploma, and they have helped me learn office administration.”  

As for his family: “For now, I’m keeping my distance from my mother, brothers and sisters because it’s not safe,” said Trey. “The last time I saw my father, he threatened me with a shotgun so I’ve made the decision not to have any further contact with him. When I leave, I’m hoping to move in with a buddy of mine and look for an entry level position in an office — hopefully at PaceButler. I’m looking forward to my new life and what the future holds.”
The good news is that Tom Pace concurs. “I see in Trey tremendous potential,” said Pace. “Through his activities at Job Corps, combined with the environment at PaceButler, if he continues to stay on track, he will do well.”
PaceButler Corporation buys and recycles used cell phones throughout the United States. For more information, visit To learn more or to purchase a copy of Tom Pace’s book “Mentor, The Kid & The CEO,” visit

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