This article was written by Stephen Scoggins
My journey started at the age of nine when my grandmother sat me down and politely informed me that she needed me to become the “man of the house”. There I was, GI Joe in one hand and a transformer in the other, not even sure what “man of the house” meant. My grandmother had just been diagnosed with cancer that day.
Over the course of the next several months, as my grandmother underwent what was then state-of-the-art chemotherapy treatments, I learned what being man of the house meant. I learned to wake up early as I had the responsibility of getting my little brother up and ready. I remember having to pull a black pleather chair up to the stove so I could make us all oatmeal in the mornings. Afterwards, I would check on my grandmother and then start the 6 block journey to Wendell Elementary School. After school I would come home and once again pull the black pleather chair to the stove to boil water and make things like mac-and-cheese or hot dogs, almost on a daily basis. This daily routine went on for several months before my parents reentered the picture.
After my grandmother passed, my brother and I were separated as he went to live with our mother and I, our father; this was when I was introduced to the construction industry. At the age of eleven, I no longer went to school but was on a construction site tasked with carrying studs for $1.00 per hour.
We experienced highs and lows over the next several years. One of our high moments occurred as my fathers framing business began to take off. We moved from an insect-infested mobile home (located next to a cow pasture) into a very nice house. To be honest, I think the entire family thought that we had finally “made it”. Unfortunately, within a few years the housing market crashed and the debt our family had incurred led us into evictions, foreclosures, repossessions, and ultimately total bankruptcy. This downward spiral caused us to move back into another insect-infested mobile home–though this time in Knightdale. While I would love to make this lowpoint sound worse than it already was, it was actually a blessing. Steve Myrick, my father’s employer and my first mentor, kept us off the street by allowing us to move into this property he owned even with the foreknowledge of our financial struggles. In one of my fathers most broken moments he uttered these words: “Stephen, Scoggins don’t get ahead, we get by”. Crazy enough, I knew at that moment that the statement was not true; that something was off– amiss.
I began working at a local chain restaurant to help pay the bills. On the weekends I would hit the job sites of Steve Myrick where I remember him giving me my first lifeline. He pulled me from the framing crew one day and asked me to hop into his Jeep Grand Cherokee. He then asked me two questions: the first was, “What’s the difference between a rich man and a poor man?” I replied, “well duh, money!”. His correction was quick, “NO! It’s the way they think, everything in life comes down to thought. No action is ever taken without deriving from a thought first!” Then he hit me with the next question, a proverbial right hook if you will; “Stephen, do you want to think like me or your father?” There it was! My great AHA moment!
Steve Myrick was very wealthy, very focused, incredibly hardworking– but the one thing that I admired most was that he was incredibly generous! Now I wish after this conversation I could say everything changed and all of our financial hardships were erased overnight, but unfortunately things went from bad to worse. The conversation did, however, plant a seed deep within my mind and heart that I would one day use to transform not only my life but the lives of thousands, and one day, I pray, millions of others.
At the tail end of my junior year, I woke up once again to a hot trailer and no power. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired! I dropped out of high school to assist us with getting a basic car and to assist with getting our financial picture more secure. Dropping out of school was not uncommon for many people like me who grew up living less than paycheck to paycheck. I think many of us feel like we need to work just to live. Leaving school led to hope for me, at least for a while. Steve Myrick gladly took me into his construction ecosystem. He even bought me tools, equipment, and eventually financed my payroll to put me into business for myself.
I went from living paycheck-to-paycheck to radical overflow in no time. Steve paid me well and I, in return, took really good care of him; that is, until my ego overroad my character and I went from humble street smarts to braggadocious knucklehead. It didn’t take long before I became “bigger than my britches”. Unbeknownst to me, a humbling was headed my way like a freight train!
I began to get involved with the wrong people and let their character, or lack thereof, change mine. Unfortunately as I began to fall, so did my self esteem and identity. I began to think to myself that maybe my dad was right, maybe Scoggins weren’t really meant to get ahead. This prevalent lie almost became a huge part of my identity. Within the next several months, I too, lost my home, had a voluntary repossession of my sports car, and due to my own stupidity, became not only “broke” but broken.
Now being homeless, I began to couch-surf. I bounced around from friend to friend until they got tired of me. Later, I found myself under the stars. I took showers at local gyms because I didn’t want my friends and family to know how far I had fallen. Overall, I hid my circumstances very well, in fact, the only telltale sign of my homlessness journey was one particular year where I offered no expensive Christmas presents. Instead, I borrowed blank white paper from a local gas station and sketched pictures as gifts to my family and friends.
One of the questions most frequently asked to me is “What shook you out of it?”. “What made you take another step forward?” To be honest, the motivating factor was the haunting voice of Steve Myrick in my mind saying, “It’s the way they think”. This in addition to his prompting question, “Do you want to think like me or do you want to think like your father?”. Steve Myrick’s voice, along with this quote: “You have to be willing to do today what others won’t so you can have tomorrow what others don’t”, would end up becoming my battle cry for life.
It took me some time to find my way back to my North Star; this includes a failed attempt to join the military and a suciide attempt where I found my faith in God. I began to slowly discover the greatest purpose in life is serving the person you used to be! I knew in order to do that, I would need to become more than I currently was.
I remember it like it was yesterday, walking around Knightdale trying to find a place to crash. One night as the cold rain started to hit me, I decided that if I was “going to go down”, I may as well go down fighting! To this day, that’s when and where I believe my warrior mindset was born. I developed a relentless tenacity to never give up!
I could continue my story for several more pages but to condense it, I eventually made my way back to Steve and sought his forgiveness. In an act of grace he gave me an opportunity I truly did not deserve. He didn’t grant me all the stuff as before, only a handshake, a smile, and the willingness to let me figure it out. On that hot summer day I shook Steve’s hand and began building the tools and equipment I needed out of the trash piles with my father by my side. That day became the first day of what is now Custom Home Exteriors Inc (a.k.a. The CHE Companies) which now serves 3 states, employs hundreds of amazing people, and gave me the bedrock to now own 6 other brands and companies.
I have discovered the secret to success is simply being me, scars and all. People don’t want gurus; people want guides that have actually done the work. Otherwise people will end up chasing theology rather than application, and in truth, only application can bring transformation. I think a lot of people are confused. They think their identity is tied to the level of success they can show to others. They do not realize that true success is not needing the approval of others.
I think people gravitate towards my message because they see my journey, as well as my heart to see them become successful, both are real. I don’t offer high ticket items for the elite. I offer programs that anyone can utilize even if they are homeless. I have done my best to create a framework that allows myself and my team to meet people exactly where they are; I only ask people to take one step at a time.
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