Young Entrepreneur Turns Struggling Business Into a Success

Iowa PRO is short on years but long on experience
Young Entrepreneur Turns Struggling Business Into a Success
Curtis English, owner of Select Service, cleans and pumps portables at JP Cycles Roadside Park near Anamosa, Iowa.

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At only 22, Curtis English is already a portable sanitation veteran. He’s owned and operated Select Service Inc., a portable restroom company in Anamosa, Iowa, for four years.

“When the other kids were sitting at home playing video games, I was mowing lawns, providing snow removal service and doing odd jobs,” he says. “It wasn’t that I was any better than my fellow students — I was just wired differently. At age 15 or 16 I visited Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and saw successful business owners driving top-of-the-line snowmobiles. I was jealous of them and wanted to be in the same position they were.”

English attended Anamosa High School. Having completed his mandatory credits before the end of his final year, he exercised an option to enroll early in the Business Administration Management program at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. Following a brief stint at a custom truck shop, he bought the restroom business, financing the purchase with a bank loan.

“The bank grilled me hard about my business plans and how I wanted to operate the company,” says English. “Probably much harder than they would have grilled an older loan applicant. They had a lot of questions for me, but eventually I was approved.”

Although youth is on his side in terms of stamina, it can also be a challenge.

“At times, I’m meeting with someone and they ask to speak to Curtis, the older guy they talked to on the phone,” he says. “I tell them I’m the same guy — the company owner — and it takes them a while to accept that I’m being up front with them.”

He’s hoping to hire his first employee this year and understands that someone with the experience he’s looking for will probably be older than he is.

“I think I’m easy to get along with,” he says. “But hiring someone experienced may require me to find a 30-year-old employee who doesn’t mind taking orders from a 22-year-old. I want to make sure I handle that relationship the right way.”

For the record, English is no longer jealous of business owners with snowmobiles.

“I just got back from South Dakota where I rode my 2011 Arctic Cat M8 153 with turbo,” he says. “It’s my third one. A lot of my friends are jealous when they drive by and see the snowmobiles and the new truck, but it’s really nothing to be jealous about. They don’t see me working long nights and weekends to earn what I enjoy.”

Check out a full profile on Curtis English and Select Service Inc. in the June issue of PRO.


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