Jared Zabaldo ’94 grew up between the towns of Central Point and Rainier in Oregon and Kelso, Washington, with the dream of someday serving in the military. At a relatively early age, he had heard about SOU because of his years in the Rogue Valley. He graduated Kelso HS in 1989 but moved to the Rogue Valley and started school at SOU the fall of 1990.
Jared focused on business and management for his course studies but really enjoyed statistics taught by Professor Rene Ordonez. “He was a great teacher and was very thorough. In fact, he was so thorough, I didn’t even have to open a book because I had so much knowledge and confidence from his lectures,” he said. He graduated spring of 1994 with his bachelor’s in business administration-management.
After graduation, Jared made the move to the Portland metro-area and got into sales and did some serving and bar tending at a local restaurant to help pay off his school debt. With a dream of writing screen plays, he moved to southern California for several months but didn’t find the degree of success that he aspired to. On September 11, 2001, the terrorist attacks on New York City and The Pentagon rebooted his entire values system and he went back to his earlier childhood dream of serving in the armed forces. He enlisted in the US Army to become a military journalist with stops at Fort Jackson, South Carolina and Fort Meade, Maryland, for his basic training and advanced individual training. From there he attended the Defense Information School at Fort Meade, Maryland, then returned to the Portland area where he could serve in the US Army Reserve at Vancouver Barracks in Washington.
In March of 2003, he enrolled at the Willamette University College of Law in Salem but by March of 2004, his military occupational specialty (MOS) was needed in Iraq so he went on active duty and deployed to the combat zone of Baghdad. Jared was assigned to the Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, serving under commander, US Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus. He served in Baghdad until the end of December 2004 then returned home where he entered law school again.
After transitioning back to civilian life and law school, Jared started a small company called USAMM to supply military stores with dress uniform accessories. His business started in a room, then moved to a shed, then a storage facility and the business prospered. He was putting in around 120 hours per week between school and his burgeoning business and the wear and tear got to him. “I was putting in a lot of hours, not getting a lot of sleep and my business was taking off. So, I left law school to get my focus 100% upon the business,” he said.
USAMM has grown exponentially into a military uniform super store for all five branches of the service with over 30,000 products in stock. “We have 170 touch screen kiosks at military installations throughout the world, which is a one stop shop for service members. We have a facility in Milwaukee, Oregon, and have 75 full time employees. But our growth has been so amazing that we will be opening a branch store in Killeen, Texas, just outside of Fort Hood, to help keep up with demand,” he said.
“I think anything a person achieves in life is attributable to the foundations they get, whether as kids, as soldiers, and yes, even as students. SOU was a very grounding, but broadening experience for me. SOU made me realize that there was much more to me, and to the world around me, and for that, I’m grateful and proud to be an alumnus.”
Learn more: USAMM