Sometimes when the cards are stacked against you, you have to reshuffle the deck. For entrepreneur Al Rucker, shifting his cards has meant constantly evolving; becoming one of Houston’s most prominent entrepreneurs his chief goal.
The ride hasn’t always been smooth: a childhood that included time in foster care and fending for oneself when he chose a way out. It’s a journey that Rucker recounts as if it occurred yesterday. “Growing up in a single parent home, I watched my mother try to take care of six kids and I watched the things she went through as a single mother,” he said. “When she could not afford an apartment with all seven of us, we had to go live in shelters and stuff like that.”
Determined to break the vicious cycle of poverty, he soon discovered the importance of education, earning a degree from Florida State University. From there he dived into the workforce, earning his stripes at a fast food restaurant before eventually launching a real estate company – and later – Midtown Bail Bonds. He hasn’t stopped there, launching Dolce Ultra Lounge and “The Al Rucker Show” which arrived in 2015. The show is now syndicated in over 22 markets and broadcasts from Rucker’s Houston base.
It’s a transition that Rucker notes as purposeful, giving him the skills to succeed elsewhere. “Working at a fast food restaurant gave me the management tools to go out and get a better job,” he said. “For a number of years I was a Finance Director, then I got tired of working those long hours, so I wanted to do something for myself.”
He added, “I was young and had a family, so I had to immediately go to work. My wife and I started a real estate company and when the market took a turn I started doing bail bonds.”
Now he’s creating opportunities for others. With the introduction of the Al Rucker Foundation, Rucker is establishing an effort to provide financial and mentoring opportunities for Houston area youth. It’s a mission Rucker says was essential, his way of giving back. “As I got older I basically took the initiative to help because I know how it is to grow up with little,” he said. “To wake up and have no Thanksgiving dinner to eat. No Christmas toys. I want to do everything I can to give back to the community.”
In addition to pairing students with mentors, the foundation also provides financial assistance to those looking to attend trade schools or HBCUs. Though he explained aid is also available for those not attending an HBCU depending upon need.
One of the foundation’s initial initiatives is the Modern Gents Mentorship Day. In partnership with Arms Wide Open Adoption Services, the Foundation will be hosting a Modern Gents Mentorship Day where 25 mentors that include Radio One’s Mad Hatta and Jim “Jimbo” Kovacik along with Texas State Representatives Jarvis Johnson and Ron Reynolds. Many more will be partnered with mentees from Arms Wide Open for a fun-filled day at the BH Ranch & Entertainment Center (14149 Player St). Activities are to include football, fishing, horseback riding and more.
For now he’s focused on helping as many as possible, using his own success to create a platform for those looking to walk the same path. For Rucker, it’s all about providing an opportunity, especially for those that need it the most.
“I definitely believe young men, especially in the inner city, there are so many distractions that can deter you from your goals and plans,” Rucker says of his philosophy. “Because of my circumstances, I just made sure that I stayed focused. Anything worth working for is going to pay off.”
Adding, “Don’t get distracted, put those blinders on. It’s like you’re running a race, you just want to get to the finish line.”
For more about Al Rucker and the Al Rucker Foundation, visit www.alruckerfoundation.com
First published via Houston Style Magazine, May 2017