Read the story of Jane and Scott Wolfe and how they built one of the fastest growing companies in Louisiana, all while increasing literacy in their city.
Jane and Scott Wolfe have started multiple businesses with a purpose beyond simply profit: they wanted to enrich their community. In 1982, as teenagers, the Wolfe’s bought a rundown market in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. Wagner’s Meats became a fixture in the neighborhood as the young couple grew their business to ten locations over the next 25 years. Then, Hurricane Katrina destroyed everything they had built.
In their book, From GED to Harvard Then Inc. 500: How Two Teens Went from GEDs to Building the Fastest Growing Business in New Orleans, the Wolfes share the gripping details of their lives spent serving their hometown.
After the hurricane, the Wolfes began again from scratch, creating a construction company to help rebuild their community. They then founded Melba’s PoBoys, which Inc. recognized as the fastest-growing company in Louisiana. GQ called Melba’s one of the best restaurants in the most unexpected places. Their book is written to show entrepreneurs the attitudes that work, how to serve the place you live, and how to thrive after catastrophes.
Jane and Scott are driven to build businesses not just because they hope to succeed, but because they want their community to succeed, too. They wanted to hire and help the single working mothers, the marginalized and hard-working men, and all others in between. “We didn’t have a name for what we did back then,” Jane recalls. “But today you might call it ‘engaged entrepreneurship’ or ‘corporate social responsibility’.”
“Your customer can buy a widget or sandwich or pedicure anywhere. Your employee can get a job to pay the bills anywhere. What they really want, without really knowing it, is meaning,” Scott explains. “And this all starts with looking each other in the eyes. That is why we were able to do what we did.”
From armed robberies to rebuilding in the face of incalculable odds, the Wolfes share the lessons that New Orleans has taught them over the past three decades.
"“Melba’s has become a staple of its community. It shows with its employees, who have found a fun and safe place to work within their own neighborhood at living wages. We are also grateful for their ‘A’ on report card program, whereby Melba’s gives free po-boys to all kids and adults with an ‘A’ on their report card. New Orleans has the best people and the best food, and Melba’s is a big reason why!”"
"“This powerful book will touch your heart and change the way you want to live. In an era of digital convenience and social networking, people have rediscovered a yearning for meaning in their life and work. They want real connections and true human contact. Starting in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans before Katrina, Jane and Scott Wolfe built a business based on those values. To walk into their place today is amazing: it’s a restaurant, laundromat, book salon, children’s reading zone, and all-round community center. This book chronicles their amazing journey and their vision that could serve as a model for every neighborhood—and every entrepreneur—trying to recapture the joy and love that comes from true community.”"
"“Against extraordinary odds, this couple built not just a thriving series of businesses but gradually a culture of service and community we should seek in our own lives to emulate. Read, learn, and remake yourself by taking in and then acting on their experience and lessons in your own life.”"
"“Scott and Jane Wolfe’s journey epitomizes the values of perseverance, passion, and a commitment to community. As they have traveled on the road to business success, they have kept the community and people that are their customers front and center and, as such, have defined what it means to function as a double bottom-line business in twenty-firstcentury New Orleans.”"