Roman Brzozowski used to bag groceries. He once was paid to ride forklifts. He even sold hammers at one point.
For this Chicago native, though, none of that was quite enough. Driven by an urge to leave his own mark, Brzozowski, now 26, scored his bachelor’s degree in management and marketing in 2002 from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
While there he laid the groundwork for a business of his own, Extreme Auto Detailing Service, which he started in 2000 in the Chicago suburb of Plainfield, Ill.
Now, three years into his little venture, the future looks bright from Brzozowski’s point of view. Using a very simple business plan – wash and detail people’s cars, but bring the service directly to them at their home or office – he has found success through his own means.
He says the rewards of starting his own business, working for himself and looking at future possibilities has made it all more than worth the effort.
He now has six employees of his own. And, if nothing else, he’s not forced to bag groceries on somebody else’s watch.
YM: So, how did Extreme Auto Detailing Service start out?
BRZOZOWSKI: It started out as a hobby. My first car was an ’88 Ford Mustang GT, and I wasn’t too mechanical, but I liked to keep it clean. Every week, I was out there washing it, waxing it, whatever. One day, my neighbor, a sweet little old lady, asked me if I’d wash her car. I did it for free. She gave me a $10 tip, word started spreading, and I started thinking that I could make some money doing this.
YM: How did you find the money to start this all up?
BRZOZOWSKI: I really just started buying store products with my own money. In the first year, all I invested was about $500, and that was just to have enough for a vacuum, a hose, buckets, different things like that. We started from there, and all of our financing up to now has been internal. We just take the money we get from business and reinvest the majority of it.
YM: Where did you get the motivation to pull something like this off?
BRZOZOWSKI: I guess part of it was seeing my folks not really making it in the world of working for someone. I know my mom worked at a clothing manufacturer, and without notice, they just let go of her. Same with my dad. He was making transmissions for helicopters and was one day just laid off. These experiences from my parents provided motivation, and I’ve always liked to do my own thing. I’m motivated by being different from other people.
YM: What advice would you offer to people coming out of college who are interested in doing something on their own like you’ve done?
BRZOZOWSKI: Desire is No. 1. You can’t just start a business, hire a bunch of people and just sit back and make money, because you’re not going to make it. Another thing is to learn, and not just from college textbooks, but really learning from a mentor or from somebody who’s done what you want to do. I’ve worked for several people who have been mentors to me for free, but the information I got was invaluable.
YM: So, what’s the future from here?
BRZOZOWSKI: I pretty much have a vision set up. As the business goes, the primary goal is to eventually get it where we can franchise it out and really replicate our system. One of the things we envision in the near future is developing what we call the Extreme Leadership Development Program through which we’d set up an internship program where somebody who is really committed to learning about entrepreneurship can come work with us and become part of our team. It might help them to create a business of their own or even realize that they don’t want to start a business.
Extreme Auto Detailing Service can be reached at 815-609-3382.
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