Hi-Tech Pharmaceutical’s President/CEO Jared Robert Wheat grew up in a solid, middle class Birmingham, Alabama home. Jared is the son of Robert and Carol Wheat. Robert was born in Birmingham and Carol was born in Auburn, Alabama.
The parents of the future entrepreneur met the summer after they finished high school and were married while they were students at Auburn University. After graduation Robert and Carol Wheat moved to Birmingham. The couple has been married for more than 39 years.
Jared’s father retired from Compass Bank in September 2005 after 23 years of service. At the time of his retirement Robert was the Vice-President of the bank’s Special Assets Division.
Jared’s mom, Carol, dedicated her 20-year career to teaching children. In 1969, Carol began teaching first grade students on a military base in Alabama and eventually retired as a librarian with the Vestavia, Alabama School System in 2004.
Jared says his mom and dad saw to it “that I was inside the Baptist church every time the doors were open. I was raised in a very religious background.” Jared remembers his mom as “a Christian librarian” while he was growing up and Jared Wheat remembers his dad’s work with missionaries who “would come stay at our house for months at a time when they had their sabbatical from Africa or wherever they were coming from.”
Robert and Carol nurtured the inquisitive nature of their son, encouraging his natural desire to constantly learn and explore new things. The Wheats taught their son the value of family, education, hard work, and sticking together in both the best and worst of times, a lesson that has proved very important in light of the current charges Jared now faces.
The Wheat’s did not live lavishy, but a family built home in Gulf Shores, was a place of refuge for the tight-knit family and some of Jared’s favorite times were on the weekends when the family would visit the area.
At the beach, Jared loved to demonstrate his prowess for Wiffle ball, ride his 4-wheeler and cherished most the time he spent catching fish with his grandfather and exploring the undeveloped sand dunes with his sisters, Jane and Ginger. Carol says Jared was “an exceptionally good child and a good big brother to his younger sisters.”
Jane now lives with her husband Michael in Bowdon, Georgia and keeping with family tradition Jane and her husband are both teachers. Jared’s other sister, Ginger, also followed in her mother’s footsteps and, before becoming a stay-at-home mom, was an elementary school music teacher. Her husband, Greg, is a youth pastor.
Although Jared Wheat did not become a teacher, Jared was an excellent, hardworking ‘A’ student. Jared was a member of both the Math Honor Society as well as the National Honor Society.
Jared was also a natural athlete and played all the sports growing up - baseball, football, basketball, tennis. But, Jared changed schools at one point and ended up basically giving up school team sports, ”I went from one school, where I was pretty much sports oriented to another school where I didn’t play sports because the coaches already had their mind made up who the starting tailback and point guard should be,” says the competitive Wheat. Even in his youth, Wheat was not one to sit on the sidelines.
Changing schools also introduced Jared to something else new, something that would forever change his life. “That school was laced with Ecstasy,” remembers Jared Wheat. “Ecstasy was spreading at the time, and this school was no exception.”
And, like a lot of young men, Jared loved to try and impress the young ladies, and it didn’t take long to fall into an all too easy trap. “It was 1988 and so I had a couple of girls that came to me and asked me if I could get them some (Ecstasy) and I said sure and I got them some as a friendship kind of thing.”
Two weeks after graduation from high school, Jared Wheat found himself in police custody for selling Ecstasy.
Robert and Carol supported their son “even though we did not approve of what he had done,” says Carol. Carol says she and Robert realized that “many teenagers have problems in many areas and go on to become fine adults.”
Jared, remembering his dad’s admonition, “It always pays to tell the truth,” admitted his guilt, took his punishment and hoped to then get back on track and move on with his life.
But first Jared Wheat would have to pay for his youthful indiscretion and serve his time - 32 months, at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama, where he would formulate the idea that eventually became Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals. Jared Wheat would eventually pay his parents back for all of the legal expenses they had incurred from the mistake he made as a youngster.
After his release, Jared went back to college at UAB. But, the young man who years prior thought about going to law school or working with a large corporation, never finished his degree, believing his felony conviction had closed most doors to a traditional business career. With the felony conviction, Jared Wheat asked himself, “What big corporation would hire me?” Jared knew he had a keen intellect and felt he could do better “on my own."
“It was during a period of time I was at Maxwell I basically formulated the idea of Hi-Tech and I came with the name and started the company out of my parents’ house in Birmingham. In 1997, I decided to come to Atlanta and to basically try to make a full time go of it over here.” Jared basically started building the corporation “on body building products, sports nutrition, and stuff of that nature.”
“We started out in a real small facility.” Jared has devoted his life to building his nutritional companies, Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals and National Urological Group. These two companies have become quite successful through the legal sale of lawful products and have substantial value. Wheat eventually also developed several other business entities, including Target Data Processing, Ltd. in Belize, the company alleged by the government to have been involved in wrongdoing related to the current indictment.
Jared Wheat’s Role at Hi-Tech
Prior to his arrest in September 2006 and this indictment, Jared Wheat ran Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals all day, every day. He ordered raw materials, he hired staff, he mixed the product lines and assured that the manufacturing plant ran on time and produced the product that was most needed for the customers of Hi-Tech.
A workaholic, Jared Wheat’s role is a critical one at Hi-tech because herbal product ingredients have to be adjusted due to the relative strength or weakness of the ingredients. He additionally handles all of the litigation involving the company, manages all of the big customers of the company and deals with all of the employees of the company.
Wheat works with a pharmacologist and a medical doctor in the development of Hi-Tech Pharmaceutical’s products to assure that they are safe. You can find more on the company here.
Philosophy on Employees
Jared Wheat was taught by his mother to be kind to others and treat everyone fairly. Jared knows how vital good employees are and at Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals Wheat treats his employees like family. Wheat also knows it’s not where you come from or whether or not you have a piece of paper that says “college graduate” that matters. Jared feels a responsibility for his employees and their families.
Wheat says he thinks differently than most CEOs when it comes to hiring practices. “For me it’s about how hard people work, versus how many letters are at the end of their name with whatever degree they have.”
Jared Wheat says it’s all about hiring “smart people.” He says he has found through the years hiring many without college degrees has worked out well for the company. “If you give them a chance and you give them the ability to learn, work hard, and earn more money than somebody else thinks they’re worth because the perspective employee doesn’t have a piece of paper; I’ve found I’ve had a lot of success. These folks work harder and they appreciate being paid proportionately to how hard they work.”
The company has on average, depending on the time of the year, between 30 to 50 full- and part time employees. Around 30 are full time employees and the company staffs up and down with part-time help depending on how sales are going.
Wheat’s employees have stood by him during this time of crisis. For Jared Wheat, what weighs on him most is not what will happen to him during the current legal process, but what all this could mean to the loyal employees and their families who have been the backbone of a very successful company.
Quietly, behind the scenes, the way he would prefer it to remain, Jared Wheat has been reaching out to people in the country where Target Data Processing Ltd., conducted business.
Seeing the poverty in the country of Belize firsthand and influenced by a meeting on an airplane, Jared Wheat started a couple of years ago helping a Texas group called the Compassionate Hearts Alliance.
“While I was on a flight I met a missionary that was down there. They have a program down there called My Father’s House and basically they go down there and do mission work to the people in Belize as well as doing a feeding program. I help feed kids at lunch every day, because without help these kids would only get one meal a day.”
Jared Wheat says eventually the group will be providing two meals a day along with day care so their parents can continue to work during the day. “We’re trying to expand the number of kids we work with,” says Jared.
The charity is also working on a health clinic and trying to get doctors and dentists to fly down and give a week of their time. Wheat says they’re hoping to build a facility “where we’ll give out free care to some of the people who can’t afford certain types of things that the health care system down there doesn’t allow for."
Jared Wheat says they’ve worked to bring children back to the United States for care and try to get hospitals to donate the surgeries needed. The group has “helped a child with a clubbed foot and another with a lazy eye and is hoping to be able to help others.”
Wheat says he likes the way Jim Pitre works with the kids in Belize. “He’s trying to lead more by example of being a good person and then hoping maybe they will ask more about his faith and he can pass it on and that’s kind of my belief. "
“I’m not one to wear my Christianity on my sleeves. I’m more if you lead your life being a good person and if someone says what do you think about this or what do you think about that, if somebody opens the door, I will then express my belief that I got as a kid. I’m not a big fan of somebody trying to run Christianity down somebody’s throat. I just don’t think that’s how you’re supposed to do it.”
Jared Wheat knows people will be skeptical when they hear about his efforts in Belize. “I feel like when you give gifts you’re not supposed to want a pat on the back for doing it. So, I’ve never advertised that I give money to a Belizean charity.”
But Wheat wants people to know there is more to him than what the government has tried to portray both in court and in the media. “I know a lot of people start trying to do stuff to tilt their image, but I started helping with this cause around two years ago, well before this indictment. I’m being put on trial and yes, I want to say to folks, ‘Hey, wait a minute here, I’m kind of a pretty decent dude.”
Medicines for Belize
Jared Wheat says one of the things he had been looking to do in Belize was to work with the Ministry of Health to supply some of the medicines sorely needed in the impoverished country. Wheat says he believed he would be able to save the country “humongous amounts of money. Then they could afford to give newer medications that the people currently can’t get because of the cost.”
“I basically got the idea from India. India is number one at doing that. They basically make all of the products such as a Lipitor or the blood pressure medicines, all the medicines that are necessary for folks to live longer the way we do nowadays.”
“But the problem is the Pfizers of the world, the Mercks and Abbots will give themselves a 15-year patent on these things and you can’t come into the market place, in the states until that time and in some industrialized countries.”
“But in India there’s a company, Cipla, a several billion dollar company that makes generics of all the major pharmaceuticals here in the United States and then they supply raw materials to the Merck or a Pfizer or a Glaxo. Cipla then has its own brand with the same materials they supply because Merck, Pfizer, do exactly what I do which is buy raw material from a company that synthesizes and they will test it to make sure it’s pure just like the certificate of analysis that comes from the manufacturer.”
“Once you prove that it is what it says it is, you then make your product then you test it again to make sure you didn’t mess up somewhere.” Just like most of the people of India can’t afford to pay three bucks for a pill that costs three cents to make, neither can the people of Belize. Like Cipla in India, I wanted to be able to offer this same service to the people not only of Belize but I was also talking to other countries in the area to offer the same service to them also.”
Jared Wheat through all the ups and downs of life has tried to remember the many lessons his parents taught him – work hard, tell the truth, be kind to others, help those less fortunate than yourself.
Jared knows the coming months will not be easy, but all he asks is that people wait and simply listen to his side of the story, much of which will not be told until tria,l before making up their minds about who he is.
Note: Many areas of Jared's life were not talked about in this bio, much of that information is available elsewhere on the site and we ask people to understand while Jared would like to answer every accusation that has been made against him, this case will be heard in court, the proper venue for many of those answers. As the legal process ebbs and flows we will try to make as much information as possible available.