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‘Built With Purpose’: Torch co-founder Roark pens illuminating book

HUNTSVILLE – Book signings were scheduled before entrepreneur-turned-author Bill Roark’s new book hit Amazon’s shelves. And, from the early returns, it appears the Torch Technologies co-founder is going to need several pens.

“Built with Purpose: How Our Employee-Owned Business Changed What It Means to Work and Why,” went on sale a week ago and quickly began moving. The first day it was on Amazon the book hit Bestseller Status in all six qualifying categories, Top 10 in four categories and overall No. 1 in the Business Ethics category.  

(Torch Technologies/Contributed)

The book, which can be found on www.amazon.com, chronicles the formation and first decade of the history of Torch. The company says its story validates that there is a better way to build a business—one where everyone is truly engaged and invested in working toward the long-term success of the company—while also keeping generosity as a core value.

“We’re at a point in the age of the company where a lot of the original folks that were here in the leadership team are beginning to retire,” Roark said in an interview with 256 Today. “So, as they retire, those stories of the early days and the things that we went through to get the company up and going, and the challenges we took and the risks we take, all those memories are leaving as the folks go out the door.”

Roark said there was a realization that the time was now to review Torch’s somewhat brief but successful history. Roark began collecting stories, anecdotes and experiences from those involved and eventually joined with a ghostwriter to shape the book.

“I started out pulling those things together, then we hired a ghostwriter (Darren Dahl) to help me. It turned out we didn’t make him a ghost, and actually his name’s on the book. I thought he did a good job, so I wanted him to be recognized.

“I’m a better storyteller than a writer.”

“Built with Purpose” chronicles Roark realizing his dream of building an employee-owned company whose success benefits everyone who works there—not just the founders.

(Torch Technologies/Facebook)

A number of local book signings have already been scheduled including:

  • Today, 6-7:30 p.m. at Yellowhammer Brewery
  • Thursday, 5 p.m. at Harrison Brothers Hardware
  • June 4, 5:35–6:30 p.m. at Rocket City Trash Pandas

To schedule Roark as a speaker or for a book signing, contact Tammie Dodson at 256-932-6079.

“It is my hope that this will not only be a walk down memory lane for those who were part of the company in the early years, but it will serve as a lasting reminder for all future Torch employees as to how employee ownership has not only been the foundation of our success, but has enabled us to build a unique corporate culture where everyone works for the common good,” he said.

Torch is 100% employee-owned, and one of its missions is to be involved in the community.

(Torch Technologies/Facebook)

“We think we’ve developed a special culture. and we wanted to document that and share it with our employees,” Roark said. “You know, the company has grown so fast that a lot of our new employees – we had 350 employees last year – a lot of those people don’t know any of that history. They just know Torch and that, ‘I’ve heard of that and I wanna go to work there.’

“So now here’s the opportunity for them to know how Torch came to be and why we have the reach we have and why culture is what it is.”

Roark, in addition to being the co-founder of Torch Technologies, is the founder and CEO of Starfish Holdings, the parent company of Torch; and the founder of Freedom Real Estate & Capital.

He’s has also been involved as a business coach and partner in a local brewery. Yellowhammer brews are his local favorites.

Roark shuffled through old notebooks, recordings and memories to retell Torch’s climb from risky business to a business that continues to flourish.

“We took huge risks that paid off,” he said. “But, we had the ability to minimize the risk and we did everything we could. It was a big risk and we told (everyone) what we’re doing.

“It wasn’t like we were pulling the wool over their eyes, they knew they took the risk.”

Roark said one of the surprising things he discovered while researching the book was that all of those involved didn’t have the same recall. But topics were discussed and the truth, he said, was found somewhere in the middle.

“Everyone that had input had a chance to review it,” he said. “I think we’re all happy.”


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