The Entrepreneurial Spirit

by admin7. December 2008 19:00

“I always knew that someday I was going to start my own business — it was just a matter of time,” said Moraine Park alumnus Timothy Kent.

 

 Tim Kent in his office.

He is one of many Moraine Park graduates who have used their technical college education as a path to owning a business. A member of the Moraine Park Class of 1990, Kent holds an associate degree from the Civil Engineering Technician – Structural program and has been a Wisconsin Registered Architect since 1997. In 2007, he founded Architects in Common LLC in Glenbeulah by collaborating with other consulting architects. The name arose from having a love of architecture “in common.”

 

 

Through the Civil Engineering Technician – Structural program, Kent learned various aspects of architecture including site design, land surveying, and structural, mechanical, plumbing and electrical design. “This has given me a better understanding of how a building relates to its site, design and efficiency,” he said.

 

 

After graduating from Moraine Park, Kent started working for an architect to gain experience in different building types and refine his design talents, which gave him additional benefits for his future business. “Working for other architects has given me so much experience and knowledge in design,” said Kent. “Plus I have developed a great network of contacts. I’m truly grateful to my years of experience.”

 

 

Architects in Common (AIC) provides design services to commercial and high-end residential clients, including offices, schools, churches, banks/credit unions, restaurants and retail. Kent works with a network of other architects, engineers and MEP consultants who provide mechanical, electrical and plumbing design. To effectively control resources and costs, AIC outsources architectural construction documents to consulting architects, as needed.

 

 

Kent’s business has a new Web site, www.architectsincommon.com.

 

 
Webs by Wagner
 

Another Moraine Park alumnus-turned-entrepreneur also happens to have her own business in Glenbeulah. In December 2002, Laura Wagner completed a technical diploma in Information Technology – Web Developer and an associate degree in Individualized Technical Studies. In addition, she had earned a Microsoft Office Software Suite certificate in 2001.

 

 Laura Wagner in her home office.

In 2002 Wagner started Webs by Wagner LLC, a home-based business that offers affordable Web design and development for small businesses. Her clients include Fay’s Fun 'n Learning in Fond du Lac, Country Crafts Barn and the Sweet Basil restaurant in Plymouth, EcoManity in Elkhart Lake, and Bike n Ski in Sheboygan. Check out Wagner’s own Web site at www.websbywagner.com, whose design features a play on “webs.”

 

 

“My goal was to always have my own business, but I got sidetracked along the way and went back and forth between business and jobs,” said Wagner. “I took a couple classes at Moraine Park in the summer of 2000 because I wanted to make a Web site for a friend for her business. I quickly learned there was much more involved in Web design than I’d get out of a couple classes. Besides that, I was hooked and wanted to learn more and more.”

 

 

Along the way, Wagner learned about the then-newly created Individualized Technical Studies program and decided to create her own curriculum so she could use her Web Developer technical diploma courses toward an associate degree.

 

 

She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Lakeland College in 2005 to complement the Web development skills she learned at Moraine Park.

 

 

Wagner said that beyond the obvious skills she gained from taking Web courses, going to college taught her never to close doors or ignore opportunities. “There were several times I considered going in another direction but for some reason I always came back to Web design,” she said. “It is amazing to me how often one choice can lead to another opportunity. Making it all the way through school and graduating with honors has also increased my self-confidence immensely.”

 

 
Lotus Studio
 

As with Wagner and Kent, it was Moraine Park alumna Lori Carroll’s plan all along to be an entrepreneur. A 2004 graduate of the Barber/Cosmetologist Apprenticeship program, Carroll owns Lotus Studio LLC in downtown West Bend. The salon opened in May 2007 and later moved to a new location that Carroll renovated.

 

 Lori Carroll styles a client's hair in her salon.

In addition to haircuts, color, foiling, upstyles, facials, manicures and other popular services, Lotus Studio offers Japanese thermal straightening as well as Davines, an exclusive line of environmentally aware products from Italy, and the newly arrived glominerals cosmetics and skin care.

 

 

Carroll has two employees and is training a Barber/Cosmetologist apprentice, just as she herself once trained at a salon while attending classes at Moraine Park.

 

 

“My degree from Moraine Park has helped me with my business through the skills I learned at school as well as on the job,” said Carroll. “Starting as an apprentice was great for me. I learned on the job, won competitions and built my clientele, which has gotten me where I am today. I would recommend the apprentice program to anyone.”

 

 
Lifelong learning
 

Learning doesn’t necessarily end once graduates are out of the classroom and in the workforce.

 

 

“In the past year I’ve taken a few classes in Financial Management and Revit Architecture from Moraine Park to help with the new business,” said Kent. “I believe continuing education is the key to our success.”

 

 

Carroll and her employees take classes to hone their skills and keep up with the latest trends, and they travel to trade shows.

 

 

In the Web design field, Wagner also keeps her skills current. “I have had to continue to learn and improve my skills in this field that never slows down,” said Wagner. “I often joke that I’ll never catch up, but I sure do try constantly.”

 

 

In addition to running her business, Wagner has returned to Moraine Park as a call-staff instructor, teaching Microsoft Office courses at the West Bend campus.

 

 
“I thoroughly enjoy working with the students and watching them gain experience and confidence, as I did while in school,” she said. “I often think of my instructors and advisors when talking to students. I try to give them encouragement and tell them to take advantage of their opportunities because they just never know where it might lead.”

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