To most, a pastor becoming a security guard at a winery would seem an unlikely career path. For E. & J. Gallo Winery’s Stephen La Farge, it turned out to be his perfect pairing. His unique career journey reminds us that when you are dedicated and persistent, it pays off.
Stephen was a pastor for 36 years and his last eight were spent as Lead Pastor for his church in Ceres, California. In recent years, a medical issue made it increasingly challenging for him to do the job he loved. The church did everything they could to accommodate him, but he felt he could no longer give his congregation 100%.
Changing careers after almost four decades would prove both challenging and intimidating. “My
skill-set didn’t transfer seamlessly into very many areas,” recalls Stephen. Hundreds of resume submissions and many rejections later, he attended a career fair where he came across the Gallo booth. The Recruiters he met took the time to discuss Stephen’s skill-set and made recommendations for possible job opportunities. After leaving the career fair, he was inspired to go to GalloCareers.com and applied online.
It turned out that he was a great fit for the Campus Transportation Safety Monitor (CTSM). He was driving down Highway 99 when he received a call from Lorna in Talent Acquisition. “She was calling to explain the process and to discuss next steps. I was so accustomed to the auto-rejection notices,
that a phone call from an actual person was a bit surprising. Nearly everything is handled over the Internet now so interactions with living, breathing people is rare before the formal interview stage,”
During his on-site interview, Stephen voiced his concern that his experience as a pastor wouldn’t quite stand up to candidates who had previous experience in security, law enforcement or the military. Corporate Security Manager, Gene pointed out, “Stephen’s perceived weakness was actually his greatest strength since the job involved primarily working with people. I was extremely impressed with his professionalism. His lack of security experience was absolutely overshadowed by his work ethic, life experience, and integrity. We talked on several occasions about his desire to learn a new career, and his willingness to overcome life’s barriers. I was really excited to offer him the job and hoped he would accept, as I knew he would be a great addition to the Gallo Family.”
Since starting at Gallo, Stephen has been impressed with the culture saying, “I have witnessed my managers go out of their way to help, regardless of my lack of experience with security work. They have been patient beyond reason at times with my questions and requests.” What Stephen enjoys most about his new position is that he gets to interact with people every day. He also enjoys living in the Central Valley because it’s close to great destinations like Yosemite, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and Monterey, satisfying his passions for travel and landscape photography.
Looking back on the experience, Stephen says, “My intention from the start was to prove to my team that they would never regret hiring me. I appreciate that my efforts to be dependable, honest and competent have been recognized and rewarded.” Stephen worked as a CTSM for 9 months until being promoted to Part-Time Security Guard. He hopes to continue down this path and says, “My goal is to become a full-time guard in the not too distant future.”
UPDATE: In the time since Stephen’s interview, Gallo is happy to announce that due to Stephen’s professionalism, demeanor, and excellent job performance, he was offered a promotion to Full-Time Security Guard. Gene notes, “Stephen has an infectious drive and passion for life, and because of this, he will excel. We couldn’t be more excited for his future.” Cheers to a true success story!
To learn more about Gallo Diversity & Inclusion, visit GalloCareers.com.