About the Founders
The GFF was founded in the fall of 2017 by Wes Gardner. Wes, a serial entrepreneur, recalls as a small boy starting businesses like selling gold fish and worms, mowing lawns and shoveling snow to make money. He had his first employee at age 12 when he enlisted a neighborhood friend and his mom to cook and serve pizzas out of a tree house down the street from a local high school. With a natural inclination for business, Wes started Prime Trailer which became one the largest semi-trailer dealerships in the western United States. With success in business at an early age, Wes found himself in a unique opportunity to give back to the community.
In the early 2000’s Wes served as Chairman of the Board for his home church. In this roll, he saw first hand how faith and market-based ideas could fit together. He decided to shift his priorities by bringing his faith into the market. Wes recalls “giving 10% of my company profits to the church. Then I began thinking about my time and talents and giving back. The more I gave the more blessed I became.” Taking care of his employees was a priority. Because they worked so hard to make the business successful, he felt it was only right that they be compensated accordingly. Later, Wes recalls, “I made a shift from simply giving and writing checks to empowering my employees. We created paid Prime Days which allowed my employees the opportunity to serve in the community. My wife Allyson and I were involved in many nonprofits, but we decided to let the employees choose where they saw the need and we joined them. It was and is powerful.“ Prime Trailer employees continue these community serve days today in Denver CO, Salt Lake City UT, and Sparks, NV.
Today Wes sits on the board at CityUnite as well as advises several Workforce Development organizations in Colorado. He started The Gardner Family Foundation, which gives to programs that focuses on job creation, employee care and K-12 education for children of marginalized families. He believes in removing barriers that keep folks from realizing their God-given potential. Often these barriers are unintended consequences of welfare programs that create “cliffs” that actually end up incentivizing people not to work.
These issues led Wes, the entrepreneur, through the Foundation to create The Bridge Network. The Bridge Network is the heart and soul of the Foundation. It is designed to match single moms with employers who will train and develop the intern over a two-year period leading to a living wage and career path upon graduation. The Bridge Network is also designed to help employers realize how much more they are capable of when they care for their employees and use their businesses for good, not just for profit. He wants to help employers and employees understand why this biblical, modern day model of gleaning can be a blessing to their employees. In addition, this approach can translate into a healthier bottom line which leads to a strong community. Wes believes that empowering folks with a “good job” is the antidote to poverty and promotes dignity and joy through work.