Impact Report No. 11: Meta Design & Manufacturing

Impact Report No. 11: Meta Design Manufacturing


META Design & Manufacturing


James Coleman


James Coleman operates a design-and-manufacturing business located on Mare Island in Vallejo. The location is particularly appropriate for James, who served on a nuclear submarine and was a lieutenant on the Navy team that closed the former base. His equipment is state-of-the-art, and he offers both the design and manufacturing solutions for his clients. They work with metal, wood, leather and plastics.

For many years, God has softened his heart for men who have run afoul of the law and are seeking a fresh start. He’s ministered in state prisons, to juvenile teen-agers on probation and taught Bible studies at a Salvation Army facility.

James’s design and manufacturing facilities are used weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but then stand idle in the evening, overnight and on the weekends. He’s asking if he can develop a nine-month apprentice program to mentor and train men seeking to transform their lives. James wants to provide them with the practical skills, the “soft” (life) skills and the Biblical foundation to relaunch their lives.

James’s goal is to develop a non-profit training program that will produce graduates with job skills who are also emotionally ready for gainful employment.

He introduced Barnabas Partners to two current employees who are success stories. One had been in prison five times before coming to Christ. He looked for a job for a year before starting META. He’s employed, married and a father. James also introduced another man who he met through the juvenile probation program who also has turned his life around and is working at META.

James’s vision is for participants to “own” a project from meeting with the client to understanding the design challenge and developing the scope of work, and then see the project through to prototype and manufacturing.

Coleman’s Mare Island location also offers the potential of affordable housing within walking distance of his facility.


How do we structure a design-and-manufacturing-skills apprentice program for formerly incarcerated, recovering addicts or individuals in need within a for-profit manufacturing company?


Len DiGiovanni facilitated the session which was attended by Jim Robertson (coach), Geni Boyer from Enterprise Restart and six other Barnabas Partners.
James made it clear that he was looking for a non-profit partner and did not want to form a non-profit himself. His goal is for the program to serve 6 to 12 men per year. Candidates could be formerly incarcerated, recovering addicts or formerly homeless—all men who need a fresh start. He envisions men working during the day to provide for themselves and then attending the program in the evenings.
Barnabas Partners advised that James:

  • Identify continuum from jail to job and decide where his program belonged.
  • Identify what a good nonprofit partner looks like.
  • Identify criteria for candidates.
  • Find trainers/existing programs/community colleges/best practices.
  • Community college training programs could provide advanced training for graduates and there could be revenue from doing projects for companies or placing graduates with firms.
  • Research best practices in existing programs such as Minnesota prison system.

After the eye-opening session, James decided to put the after-hours training program on the shelf for now. For the next step, he will work with coaches Jim Robertson and Bob Garrett to write a business plan with training integrated with his business and an eye to the apprentice program in the future.


META is a for-profit manufacturing entity led by James Coleman that desires to evolve into an apprentice training program for formerly incarcerated individuals.

The Ideation team suggested instead of starting a separate non-profit entity, James should focus on growing META, so more project work volumes will exist for an expanded workforce of apprentice welders and machine shop operators. The META business proposition is to create extraordinary, custom-designed products delivered in a timely manner at a competitive price. META will also train former inmates with work skills to become future employees for their customers. META product buyers also receive the supplier diversity benefit of working with a quality inmate work reentry program.

Barnabas coach Jim Robertson has become so enamored with the META business/ministry combination that he has been meeting weekly with James and attending weekly prayer study each Wednesday with the META team. Substantive new marketing, product and human resource training strategies are being devised to plan for future high growth in both revenues and former inmates working in solid employment with meaningful Christian life futures.