Five questions with alumnus John Peace
John Peace received his bachelor’s degree in Applied Economic Management in 1991. He is an entrepreneur and author.
AAEC: What is Safe Haven Services?
John: In the vast digital landscape, amidst all the hustle and bustle, there lies Safe Haven Services, a financial technology company with a single, unwavering mission: to provide safe, secure, and discreet digital lockbox storage for emergency money and documents.
Now, you might wonder, who might be in dire need of such services? Well, the answer lies in those fighting to break free from the chains of financial and domestic abuse. For these brave souls, Safe Haven Services offers a sanctuary, a digital haven where they can safeguard their valuables away from prying eyes and clenched fists.
Our reach extends beyond the shadows of abuse, for we cater to the unbanked and underbanked, standing side by side with those who, for one reason or another, find themselves excluded from the conventional financial system.
And let us not forget our legal migrant farm workers, the backbone of our agricultural production, toiling in fields without permanent addresses to call their own. To them, we offer a digital embrace, a place where their hard-earned wages and vital documents find a home, safe and sound.
AAEC: As an entrepreneur, why did you start this company?
John: The pivotal moment that set the wheels in motion for digital lockboxes was when my parents' local bank shuttered its doors, leaving us with no choice but to empty their safety security box. Just like countless other small towns in rural America, we were grappling with the impact of vanishing bank branches, leaving customers without access to the physical security boxes they once relied on.
Hailing from a farming background, I knew firsthand how crucial it was for farmers and rural folks to safeguard their important documents, stash away emergency funds, and perhaps preserve a few cherished family keepsakes. With the traditional security boxes no longer an option, a new solution had to be found. That's when the concept of digital lockboxes came to mind. While we couldn't replicate the storage of precious heirlooms, we could certainly digitize and protect essential documents and emergency funds, ensuring they were safe and accessible whenever the need arose.
In the spirit of adapting to the times, this new approach would bridge the gap, providing the rural community with a secure haven for their valuable assets, all at their fingertips, with just a few clicks and taps. Change may be inevitable, but with digital lockboxes, we're embracing it while still upholding the values of our farming and rural heritage of appreciating privacy.
To learn more about Safe Haven Services, visit www.SafeHavenServices.Co.
AAEC: How has your degree, helped your entrepreneurship aspirations?
John: Well, my career has gone from involving livestock to currently involving blockchain technology and my degree has been worth its weight in gold throughout all of it. And when I think about the folks who molded me into what I am today, there's a handful of names that stand out —Dr. David Kohl, Dr. Leon Geyer, and Dr. Wayne Purcell, to name just a few.
These fine professors didn't just teach me, they trained me and honed my eyes to spot business opportunities. In this fast-paced world of ever-changing technologies, you have to know how to roll with the punches and adapt to the twists and turns. The changing markets, customer demands, and business environments require training and skills to be successful.
I still remember those days in Dr. Kohl's small business management classes, where he dropped that pearl of wisdom that's stuck with me ever since: "The only constant in business is CHANGE!" And, man, was he right. That degree of mine gave me the tools, and the know-how to tackle the waves of change head-on, with confidence and grit.
So, as I look back on it all, I can say with a grin that my degree's been my anchor, my North Star, guiding me through the stormy seas of business. And I owe it all to the lessons, and the wisdom of those exceptional professors who lit the way.
AAEC: What advice do you have for students who may have an entrepreneurship mindset?
John: I have a piece of advice for you, and it's priceless. Pay close attention now. See, in this game of entrepreneurship, you have to be hungry for knowledge, for skills. There isn’t any such thing as too much training or too many tricks up your sleeve.
You might have goals carved in stone, but let me tell you, you better be ready to take a detour, pivot, and adapt on that journey of yours. Flexibility, that's the name of the game.
So, keep that fire in your belly, stay curious, and embrace the change that's sure to come your way. Because in the end, it's the ones who can roll with the punches, who can dance with uncertainty, that rise above the rest. And trust me, with that mindset of yours, you're already one step ahead in this crazy, ever-changing world of entrepreneurship.
AAEC: What is your favorite Virginia Tech memory as a student?
John: When I look back on my time at Virginia Tech, there's this one memory that stands out like a lighthouse on a stormy night. It was in that very first class with the wise Dr. Purcell, and he dropped some truth that stuck with me like glue.
He said, "Now, listen up, class. If you're just here to clock in four years and land a good job, you're in the wrong ballpark. Community Colleges do a fine job at that, no doubt. But AGECON at Virginia Tech, oh boy, that's a whole different ball game. We're here to forge you into business leaders, ready to face the winds of change in the ever-shifting world markets."
So, as I look back on that moment, I can't help but tip my hat to Dr. Purcell and his wisdom. He set us on a path that wasn't just about jobs, but about becoming leaders, pioneers, and game-changers. He was right. AGECON at Virginia Tech wasn't just an education, it was a journey of transformation, a journey that shaped me into the person I am today. And for that, I'll be forever grateful.
John recently published a memoir about his grandfather, Jimmie Galloway, a decorated World War II bomber pilot, and the family who shaped him. In true Appalachian tradition, John recounts the stories his grandfather shared with him, as he looked back on his experiences as one of The Greatest Generation. Stories of danger, daring, and sometimes, even hilarity are described in detail. Wisdom comes from experience, and Jimmie Galloway had his share.
Through John’s recounting, readers will have a bird’s eye view of the horrific conditions, acts of courage, and moral tests that faced Jimmie on the battlefield and in life. Jimmie pushed through the worst and lived to tell the story. John’s expert rendering of his grandfather’s voice is a treasure.
By Melissa Vidmar