Waxahachie Man Sits With First Lady During Speech

Local businessman invited to White House for presidential address

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A North Texas man was among the first family's invited guests at President Barack Obama's speech on jobs Thursday night. (Published Friday, Sep 9, 2011)

    A North Texas man was among the first family's invited guests at President Barack Obama's speech on jobs Thursday night.

    John Raftery, of Waxahachie, was invited to sit with first lady Michelle Obama during the speech.

    Mike Wade, Raftery's business partner and father-in-law, said it was the last thing he ever expected.

    "He came in on Tuesday morning, and we talked. Then he got a call from the White House saying he'd been vetting over the weekend and selected and asked if he could go," Wade said.

    Raftery started his career as a Marine. But after serving overseas, decided he wanted to open up his own business.

    Raftery gave Wade a call, and together they opened up Waxahachie-based Patriot Contractors Inc., a company focused on architectural and building specialties.

    "It has grown quickly," Wade said. "We have been in business for four years. Last year we booked a little over $2 million worth in business, and this year we are on track to break $5 million."

    Wade said he believes Raftery's hard work along with his military background caught the eye of the White House.

    In his jobs speech Thursday evening, Obama said, "everyone here knows that small businesses are where most jobs begin. And you know while corporate profits have been coming back, small companies haven't."

    Wade said he and Raftery know the difficulties of the economy all too well.

    "We know the struggles," he said. "We started from a very small beginning to where we are today."

    Wade said he hopes his son-in-law and his success can give hope to others while also bringing a little excitement to Waxahachie.

    "I can hardly wait for him to return," he said. "I'm going to pump him full of questions to find out all the details."