By NetWork Kansas
Terry Trout completed the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program in Montgomery County during the Fall of 2012. Below he talks about the impact that this program has had on the growth of his business.
Q: Describe your business and how it began since participating in the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program.
A: "My path is a little different than most. I actually purchased my business a year before I took the Ice House Course. I have a dual degree in Wood Technology and Technology Management and Sales from Pittsburg State University and used these skills to lead several companies in the role of Plant Manager, Plant Superintendent, and Engineering roles. In the Summer of 2011, I was laid off from a major cabinet manufacturer when we learned the entire operation was being closed and moving out of Kansas. I came across an opportunity to purchase Ane Mae's Coffee and Sandwich Shop a week or two after losing my job and took the plunge. Not knowing anything about owning my own business or much less how to run one, I was fortunate to be placed in contact with Jim Correll, who was teaching Entrepreneurship and Small Business classes with ICC. We hit it off from the start and he has continued to be an incredible mentor to me in my business. He was starting the Ice House curriculum in the Fall of 2012 and I enrolled. The class was incredible. Most of the attendees of this initial class have continued or started owning small businesses. I have reached the eight year mark and business is better than ever. The customer base is strong and our employees, which are our key to success, are the best around. We have been fortunate to flourish in a town of 9,000 people, with plans to continue to grow each and every year."
Q: What were your key takeaways from participating?
A: "I have learned many things from this class. Most of all, I learned that we are not on an island alone with small business. Everyone in this area goes through the same issues. It doesn't matter if it is food, retail, manufacturing, etc., we all face the same challenges. I have learned through this class to ask for help from others. I see what others are doing to solve the same issues that I have. Don't be afraid to ask Jim or other members of this group for advice. I also learned perseverance. The Ice House curriculum is quick to point out that success takes time. It is not always easy but can be rewarded with patience and hard work. I have also learned not to get worked up about one bad day or one bad week. Things happen and as long as the arrow is pointing up, then the successes will continue to come my way."
Q: What are your plans to grow your business in the future?
A: "We have seen growth in a number of areas. We purchased the building that the store is housed in. I, along with another business partner, were able to not only purchase the building but also open another business near the coffee shop. We plan to keep investing in the business and hopefully continue to see it grow. We have diversified our management team and have added employees each year. We have empowered our employees to be independent and make good decisions themselves. We will continue to work on these things as we grow."
Q: How do you think the entrepreneurial mindset will help you to move forward?
A: "I think through effective marketing and excellent customer service, (both of which are part of the Ice House curriculum), we will move forward. We are working hard to establish Ane Mae's as a common name so that you do not have to finish the sentence with Coffee and Sandwich Shop each time you mention it. We want to be known as a friendly and welcoming place to come enjoy a coffee, breakfast, or lunch and have fun while you are here. We have got a good start but will not get over confident and continue to work hard each and every day."
Check out the Ane Mae's Coffee and Sandwich Shop Facebook page here.