Newfound Literacy Skills Help Launch Successful Business
When Alan Canizalez made the decision to take literacy classes at the San Diego Public Library, he knew they were necessary to move forward in his career. Little did he know, it would be the critical step in his journey to becoming a successful business owner.
At 42, Alan was happily married, had three successful children and had been employed at Dixieline ProBuild for more than two decades.
“I had been steadily growing with the company and was recently offered a promotion to a leadership position in the office,” recalls Alan. “But I felt my writing and reading were not good enough and I was shy about my employers finding out, so I turned down the offer. It was then that I knew I needed to do something about my literacy skills, but I never imagined the impact the decision would have on my life.”
Growing up in San Diego, Alan always enjoyed school. As a teen, though, he began to struggle academically and out of frustration started skipping class. While his parents emphasized education, as non‐native English speakers they found it difficult to offer the support Alan needed. At 18 he dropped out of high school and began working with his father at Dixieline, where he continued to advance until he was offered the leadership position.
Alan turned down the promotion and enrolled at READ/San Diego, the library’s free adult literacy program. Alan’s first tutor, Barbara, began helping him with basic grammar and spelling. Eventually, he took classes to build his computer and advance math skills with another tutor, Ajay. This steady support and encouragement built Alan’s workplace skills and belief that he would make a good supervisor.
“Because of my tutors and READ, I was able to go back to my supervisor and ask for the position they had offered,” says Alan. “I had gained many new skills and had the confidence to make changes in the department which helped with efficiency and productivity.”
Alan worked in his new supervisor position at Dixieline for several years. Then, due to the economy, the department was closed in 2011. One of Alan’s former colleagues approached him about starting their own business. Confident with his newfound literacy and leadership skills, Alan accepted. In March 2011 they launched Mission Truss, a roof truss design and manufacturing company.
“Right now we are blowing away the competition,” says Alan happily, reporting that the company is growing and hiring new employees. “READ set me up for success and gave me the confidence I needed to go after my goals. Who would have thought that a high school dropout would now be a business owner?”
Alan is so thankful, in fact, that he makes time to give back to others who need help with reading and writing – providing support and motivation to those who have recently entered the READ program.
“READ teaches invaluable skills which are very hard to learn on your own,” says Alan. “I tell those who are considering entering the program that the sky is the limit, just look at me.”