When his family lost their Colorado farm in the late 1980s, a young Todd Hills went into town to pawn his saddle. “I got a lot less than the saddle was worth,” says Hills, ”but I walked away with a job.” That’s right: He went to work for the pawn broker — and had soon worked his way up the company ladder. He later struck out on his own and eventually sold his own 30-store pawn operation to a publicly traded firm in 2007.