Student Entrepreneur Provides Mobile Laundry Service; Will Receive $2,000 Turkey Day Scholarship
TUSKEGEE, Ala. - (November 20, 2006) - Times haven't changed much. Freshmen attend college miles away from home with little money, no transportation and using what little time they have after studies doing that dreaded laundry.
Tuskegee University student Bernard Height, a junior sales and marketing major from Redlands, Calif., came up with a solution.
Height, 20, made a dream reality by starting his own business - Advantage Plus, a mobile laundry and dry-cleaning business. The business that he started as a freshman caters to students, staff, faculty and the local community in Tuskegee and Auburn, Ala.
"I met Bernard when he was a prospective student, and I was impressed because he had a list of questions he wanted me to answer when he came to visit campus," recalls Dr. Alicia Jackson, dean of the College of Business and Information Science. "His freshman year, he came to me with a business idea, but didn't quite know how to develop the plan."
After months of going back and forth to seek advice, Height had his business in place by the beginning of spring semester and returned to campus after summer break with a delivery van.
Height's passion for entrepreneurship first developed at age eight when he began raking leaves in his neighborhood. That passion to be self-sufficient led him to Tuskegee University. "I really fell in love with the make of the campus, and the impact that Dean Jackson had on me influenced my decision to come here," he said.
Advantage Plus began with three clients and now services about 350 clients a week. Yet, the laundry service wasn't Height's first business venture on campus. He started off with Cutting Edge Barbershop, a mobile hair-cutting service. "I would go to every dorm on campus, and that's how I figured I could start another business," Height said.
It's nonstop work for Height. When he gets out of class at 3 p.m., he goes straight to work and gets off late in the evening. "I stay busy," he added.
While bringing baskets of laundry, dry cleaning and shoe repair to your home, dorm or office, Advantage Plus also is involved in community outreach. After the Hurricane Katrina disaster that struck Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, Advantage Plus rendered free dry-cleaning, alterations and laundry services to families seeking refuge at the University's Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. Since many clothes were donated to the families, Advantage Plus took up the task to clean them. Height says that task demonstrated the business' efforts to stand behind citizens in the community in need of assistance.
Many who know Height describe him as an exceptional student with a creative savvy for business.
"He has a 3.6 GPA. He's the president of the National Business League on campus, and he's carrying a full load in addition to running a business," Dr. Jackson says.
As a result of his efforts and ambitions, Height will be presented with the first $2,000 Turkey Day Classic Scholarship during the 83rd Annual Turkey Day Classic football game on Thursday, Nov. 23, in Montgomery, Ala.
"It was really a surprise for me. I work and go to school full time, so it's really a blessing to receive the scholarship," said Height.
The scholarship sponsored by the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Minority
Business Development in partnership with Victoryland Greyhound Park and Advanced Computer Technologies recognizes one top business school student, who aspires to become entrepreneurs, from each school playing in the Turkey Day Classic - Tuskegee University and Alabama State University.
"Our initiative is to reach out to minorities and to establish a long-term commitment to develop future leaders in our community," said Harold L. Boone, Sr., director of Minority Business Development for the Chamber.
For more information on Advantage Plus, contact Bernard Height at (334) 404-9187 or visit the company Web site, www.advantageplusdirect.com.