Made in South Florida: Leasa Industries

Health Food company thriving in Liberty City

MIAMI - A leading health food production company is giving many of its employees a second chance at a productive life.  It's the goal Leasa Industries and founder George Yap, who took a big chance on Liberty City and area residents over 30 years ago.

Leasa Industries grows 3 million pounds of bean and alfalfa sprouts hydroponically a year, and manufactures 1 million pounds of tofu annually.  Total sales approached 10 million dollars in 2011.  "No CEO or chairman can run a company by himself."  Says George Yap,  "People below you are the ones who make you the money, not you."

Yap's workers come from the inner city of Miami.  Most were homeless, on welfare, or needing a second chance.  Like ex-con and ex-addict
Darryl Murray, who got a break 10 years ago.  "Once upon a time I didn't trust myself, and he gave me the opportunity to prove to myself that I could be trustworthy, that I could be trusted."  Says Murray.

"A lot of people who live in the inner-city need people to help them also."  Says Yap, who left Jamaica 35 years ago with $50 in his pocket.  He built Leasa Industries with the help of family and friends.  "I got a second chance in my life, but you have to make use of it.  And I teach my workers, if I give you a chance use it wisely."

Sharon Cameron did just that, saving money she earned from Leasa over the last 19 years.  "Without Mr. Yap I don't even think I'd be here.  I bought me a brand new house. I've been there for three years now and it's all good."

Creating jobs in the Liberty City area has won Leasa Industries and the Yap's regional and national awards over the years, but Mr. Yap says his real reward comes when he sees the smiles as he walks through the plant.

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