With an unforgettable company name and his puggle sidekick Bandit by his side, Steven Ray Garcia is easily one of the self-made success stories that keep entrepreneurialism alive.
Through his specialty distribution company, Yellow Jacket Medical, Steve has a mission to enhance veteran lives without the usage of narcotics. Partnering with approximately 10 companies, he serves VA Medical Centers and disabled veterans with equipment for pain management, spinal rehab, mental health treatment and more.
Steve says his most productive years align with his time running Yellow Jacket Medical, but it wasn’t an easy road that led him to the business.
Before his own company was established, he worked in a corporate atmosphere, which provided him with security, even in bad business weeks. However, bad leadership led to and elimination of 80 percent of the company’s jobs and millions of dollars lodt. Steve’s salary and benefits were cut 60 percent, even though he had the most profitable territory.
“Because I had such an unfortunate situation, the way one person operated a company, so many lives were destroyed,” Steve said. “People with families lost their homes, cars. I never want to be in that position. If I fail, then it’s on my own steam.”
Working with veterans is also a product of historically significant events in Steve’s life. In addition to believing that veterans are generally an extremely underserved population, he is the grandson of two World War II vets who fought in a time when post-traumatic stress disorder was not classified.
“I saw the way it affected families firsthand and I saw the way it affected our family, my grandfathers,” Steve said. “It just trickled down because it has years and years of impact. Now, a lot of the products that I specifically focus on are to be able to serve that veteran population, so we can treat the veterans themselves and also help their lifestyles, which in turn helps the way that they relate to their families and generations to come.”
As a former firefighter and family member of multiple veterans, he saw firsthand the potential impact that alcohol and narcotics abuse could have on the strongest heroes. Due to his personal connection to his mission, Steve said he meticulously picks the products that can best aid them.
One of the most incredible products he has worked with through Yellow Jacket Medical is the Alpha-Stim, Steve said. Serving over 100 veterans per month in the VA, the cell phone-sized product decreases bad brainwaves that elevate pain, while increasing good brainwaves, serotonin levels and endorphins by resetting neurotransmitters with small microcurrents.
The jargon may sound complicated, but the impact is certainly clear. In his time partnering with the company, he has seen veterans’ sleep patterns become healthier and levels of anxiety, pain and depression decrease. He has worked with patients that start mowing lawns, take long naps and work after 20 years of being unable to.
“A lot of these veterans have had mental conditions where they’ve had migraines that last for hours,” Steve said. “They can’t even go out to the store without having these symptoms reoccur and they’re able to get their quality of life back. It’s amazing, the lives that have changed with just this little device. I think that one has probably been the most eye-opening into what technology and research can do with improving lives and decreasing the meds and narcotics that the government’s really pushing for.”
Working out of CO+HOOTS, Steve has been put in contact with many potential partners in other industries, as well as entrepreneurs with the same mindset as his.
“There are a lot of experts and entrepreneurial ideas here and that’s good because, a lot of times, we share the same mindset,” Steve said. “I’ve talked to several people who used to work for corporate America and they’ve had those same corporate America nightmares that I did. We have a bit of empathy with each other. We understand that we’re trying to reach a similar goal.”
This understanding of an entrepreneur’s life has elevated his passion for his work, as well as his success.
“It’s put a little more pride into my work,” Steve said. “I’m more productive than I have ever been because I don’t have anything to rely on and it’s my name behind it. I learned to use that to my advantage to enhance my client relationships.”
This passion for his work is reflected in his dedication to a lifestyle of nutrition — Steve never drinks alcohol or soda, and doesn’t take medicine for headaches — and exercise, including yoga. This makes his encouragement of veteran’s natural health improvement genuine.
“I can empathize when they’re trying to change those lifestyle habits to go to a different direction,” Steve said. “It’s easy for me to have those conversations because I live it. I’m not being hypocritical, so that’s a pretty cool thing.”