By: Rebecca S. Jones
Mr. Tony Williams, Owner of Dollar Metal Recycling Co.
Mr. Williams stated that he has,“seen and done it all.” From eating out of garbage bins, sleeping in vacant buildings and apartments, being chased by the police, addicted to drugs and selling drugs; yet he still made a decision that he would not allow the perils of his past to dictate the success of his future. Not being content with settling for mediocrity he stated that, “no one should allow their incarceration to become a hindrance for them succeeding in life”.
Oftentimes, an individual may experience various trials, tribulations and setbacks along the way to overcoming adversity. While adversity has been defined as, “a state, condition, or instance of serious or continued difficulty”, overcoming it is not necessarily an easy feat. Much perseverance, dedication and a strong volition is required to accomplish such a task. Many believe, “it’s not how you start, but rather how you finish”, that resonates the true essence of overcoming adversity. Such is the case of Tony Williams, a native Houstonian who was raised in Scenic Woods, a community on the Northeast side of the city.
In spite of being reared in a Christian home; Williams is no different from a vast majority of inner-city Black males who fall victim to the many vices that prong young Black men in metropolitan cities. His father, Rev. Floyd Lewis a local pastor of over three decades and his mother Jean, brought him up in the nurture and admonition of Christ. A decision that Williams remains grateful of until this day and bears record that such upbringing has aided him in the tedious journey to overcoming adversity.
Though Williams was reared on the Northeast side, he and his family later relocated to the South side of Houston. There he graduated from Madison High School. Shortly thereafter, he served in the United States Air Forces from 1979 to 1983. Not long after being discharged from his services to the country he secured a position at Continental Airlines. He later worked for C&D Scrap Metal Recycling Co. Inc. and had his own landscaping business and scrap metal yard.
However, it was while working at his scrap metal yard that he was arrested. Williams expressed that there was a distinct irony that surrounded the circumstances of his arrest and imprisonment. Although he had become known for living a riotous lifestyle, the charges that were brought against him were false. Due to ‘trumped up’ drug charges imposed on him and a trial that lasted only three days; he was faced with a 30-year prison sentence.
Throughout the first three years of his sentence, Williams explored every option that he could to get justice for himself. Even though he was persistent, all of his efforts proved to be to no avail. It was at that point that he realized he had no option but to make the best out of the hand that he had been dealt. From that moment on, he proceeded to explore every option that he could to ensure that no such circumstance would ever overtake him again. Accordingly, he began to study law and eventually enrolled in college courses within the prison unit. Considering that he was only allowed one free course per semester, Williams used the money sent to him from relatives to pay for his tuition. He was placed as a trustee within the prison unit and was allowed the opportunity to attend college in the evenings.
Upon being released from prison, Williams was still insistent on completing the positive path that he had set out for himself while incarcerated. Thus, he continued his studies and in June of 2011, he earned an Associates degree in Liberal Arts from Houston Community College System.
As Williams was steady advancing himself in the field of education, he also secured a position working at the Port of Houston upon his release from prison. He worked there for eight months. He then contemplated his next move and made a decision to apply for the Department of Veteran Affairs. Though Mr. Williams had decided to step out on faith, he was still a bit shocked when he was called in and offered a position within the Dept. of Veteran Affairs. During his employment there, he worked in the warehouse and after 90 days applied for another position and began working in housekeeping. Following another 90-day waiting period, he applied for an executive position and was offered the opportunity.
As a result, he worked two and a half years at the Business Office as one of the leading Transportation executives within the agency. Even though Mr. Williams had come a long way as it relates to his professional career, there was an entrepreneurial spirit on the inside of him that wouldn’t just let him be. He began researching avenues to go into the industry that he had already become familiar with before his imprisonment. Williams already had knowledge and experience working at scrap and metal companies in the past.
So he made a decision to once again go into business for himself. At that point, he began to research properties in various parts of the city that would accommodate the type of business that he wanted to pursue. It was while at a property auction that he discovered a lot that had been vacant for years. With a strong sense of determination, he bid on the lot and won. After gathering all of the money that he had saved along with the help of his mother and wife (Mary Williams) he was able to purchase the lot. He stated that, “I was very appreciative of the faith and support that my mother and ex-wife had given me, it felt good to know that they believed in me also”. He proudly added, “I made sure that I paid them back everything they leant me too.”
Once the property was purchased, there was much work that needed to be done. Williams reminisced of how he would wear his suit and tie to work in the mornings and change into his ‘work clothing’ in the evenings and go to the lot that he had purchased to continue working on it. In the process of constantly working on the lot, Williams busied himself with applying and securing the appropriate permits required to operate a metal and scrap facility.
Finally, Mr. Williams secured all of the proper permits associated with organizing and operating a metal and recycling facility. His dedication and hard work afforded him the opportunity to pioneer Dollar Metal & Recycling. However, considering that he was still a full-time employee at the Department of Veteran Affairs he had come to a crossroads where he had to make a choice. Although initially apprehensive, he decided to devote all of his time to operating his new venture.
He remembers how he went around posting flyers and introducing himself to the neighbors to inform them about his new venture. It was while speaking with one of his neighbors (Mrs. Douglas) that she informed him of the local civic club in the area. Williams immediately took an interest and vowed to make an appearance at their next meeting. Once the civic club met, he introduced himself and began to distribute his flyers and asked for the support of the community in his endeavor. Although, he was faced with opposition by a couple of individuals within the community, he still never lost focus of the mission that he had set out to do. Being unsure of how the local residents would receive his appeal, at the civic club meeting, he stated that majority of the neighbors actually welcomed the idea. Not long afterwards, Williams noticed that, “business started getting good – really good”. He continued, “By word of mouth, people were coming here from all over the place.”
On a daily basis, Dollar Metal & Recycling services individuals throughout the Greater Houston and surrounding areas by allowing them the means to trade non-ferrous scrap metal such as: stainless steel, copper, aluminum, carbide, brass and reefer. Williams stated during an interview, “I am honored to be able to give back to the community.” Mr. Williams invites the general public to stop by and receive top dollar for all non-ferrous scrap metal.
Tentatively, Williams has plans to open up other metal and scrap recycling facilities throughout the Greater Houston area to accommodate residents of other areas across the city.
Despite Williams’ unlawful imprisonment he makes no excuses for the decisions that he has made. Mr. Williams stated that he has, “seen and done it all”. From eating out of garbage bins, sleeping in vacant buildings and apartments, being chased by the police, addicted to drugs and selling drugs; yet, he still made a decision that he would not allow the perils of his past to dictate the success of his future. Not being content with settling for mediocrity he stated that, “no one should allow their incarceration to become a hindrance for them succeeding in life”.
When asked of advice to young men that have been incarcerated, Williams suggests that, “you have to be cognitive about what you want to do in life”. He encourages all youth that will listen to him to, “develop some type of trade and gather some form of education.” He is very thankful for having a loving and strong family support system in his life. Williams concluded the interview by stating that, “I’m not where I want to be, but I’m definitely a long way from where I used to be”.
Mr. Williams has two sons: Brook and Tony Williams II; and one daughter Betty. Collectively, he is oldest of five brothers and he has seven sisters. Williams has been blessed with many gifts and talents. He is an instrumentalist who can play drums, the guitar and is also a writer. In his spare time he also does motivational speaking at the Star of Hope and churches and ministries throughout Houston.
African-American News & Issues salutes Mr. Tony Williams for his efforts and strides in overcoming adversity and encourages him to continue to be a beacon of light to young men and women within the Black community. Dollar Metal & Recycling is located at 6232 Hirsch Road, 77026. To contact the facility call (713) 635-4225.