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Gerald Chamales

51, chairman and founder of Carson, California-based Rhinotek Computer Products

Description: imaging supply company selling Rhinotek brand recycled inkjet and laser cartridges

Start-up: $7,000 in 1980

Sales: $42 million to $45 million projected for 2002

Soul search: At 26, Chamales kicked an alcohol and substance abuse problem. Having worked at an imaging supply company, he decided to take his experience and start his own operation. Self-enrichment audio tapes and books were extremely influential in his road to recovery and success.

A second chance: After he failed at his first business attempt due to fear and lack of commitment, it wasn't until Chamales suffered liver failure in 1981 that he wanted to try again. He started by making sales calls from the hospital bed.

Recycled lives: Roughly 33 percent of Rhinotek's work force comes from halfway houses, welfare Rrolls and drug-treatment programs. These employees are assigned a mentor and enrolled in a training program. Says Chamales: "You could say we recycle human beings. Instead of giving them a handout, I'm giving them a hand up."

From rags to riches: "We just had our first millionaire retiree, Alan Jacob. He started 16 years ago from a halfway house and became a VP," Chamales says. "That's a beautiful thing, isn't it?"

Rhino rescue: "Rhinos are remarkable creatures, and I love their resiliency," says Chamales, explaining the company's unusual name. "We support the LEWA Wildlife Conservancy, a preserve for lions, rhinos and giraffes. Giving is the greatest gift of all."

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This article was originally published in the August 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Gerald Chamales.

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