Modesto High students make success stories their business

naustin@modbee.comFebruary 20, 2014 

  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    alternate textNan Austin
    Title: Education reporter
    Coverage areas: K-12 education, Yosemite Community College District
    Bio: Nan Austin has been a copy editor and reporter at The Modesto Bee for 24 years. She has an economics degree from CSU Stanislaus and previously worked at the Merced Sun-Star and Turlock Journal.
    Recent stories written by Nan
    On Twitter: @nanaustin
    E-mail: naustin@modbee.com

Car-wash wisdom captured the attention of lunching Modesto High Entrepreneurs Club members, who absorbed some secrets to success between bites.

“As a local business, we enjoy the opportunity to share our story, particularly with young people,” Prime Shine Car Wash President Evan Porges said before stepping up for the lunch period speakers series Thursday.

“It inspires you. It reminds you we have so many good kids in town,” he said. “Honestly, I get more out of this than the students.”

Roughly 40 students packed a classroom, balancing sandwiches and notebooks on desktops, to hear Porges lay out his eight rules to make it in business, and in life.

1. GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY: Start off learning from the bottom up, doing all the menial tasks that need doing, he said. “There’s nothing that’s below you. You’ll learn, and it’s all a good thing.”

2. DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL: Business involves risk, Porges said. Marketing tries that didn’t work and services that flopped all taught him useful lessons.

3. KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW: A student struggling in math needs a tutor; a business person struggling in marketing needs an expert, he said. “I’m not a lawyer. I’m not an accountant. You hire these folks.”

4. GET A MENTOR: “Align yourself with successful people,” Porges told students. He sought out top car-wash owners in Indianapolis and Portland, and still seeks their counsel after 23 years in the business, he said.

5. KNOW YOUR EMPLOYEES: Porges said he had a lot of jobs growing up and got to know the types of bosses he did not want to be. “Take care of your people,” he said.

6. EVERY DETAIL MATTERS: “There isn’t anything I’ll put out to the public that isn’t professionally designed,” he said. Even little giveaways leave an impression of the business on potential customers.

7. DON’T GO INTO IT FOR THE MONEY: Go into something you enjoy doing. Financial success, he said, “that may or may not happen. Go into a business because of your passion.”

8. NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, HAVE FUN: “It should not be grueling to go into work every day,” Porges said. Providing an occasional pizza, an employee challenge to make the best valentine and other team moments help build laughter into Prime Shine workdays, he said. “We have a lot of systems in place,” he said, “but we have fun.”

Answering questions afterward, Porges told students that his firm weathered the recession in part with free vacuuming. “It helped the community in these difficult times, but it also helped draw people in,” he said.

He planned a law career, but did poorly on the law school entrance test and went another way. “I got a poly sci degree and ended up washing cars for a living,” he said with a grin.

Asking many of the questions was senior Reza Talieh. “I like being able to talk to these adults, to hear them talk about their struggles,” he said.

Reza is a regular at meetings of the club, launched this year by sophomore Riley Noland. Noland said he followed the model of college entrepreneur clubs, offering a speakers series and topical discussions at meetings.

“Business really interests me, and when I found out Modesto High had no business clubs on campus, it seemed like an opportunity,” he said.

Some students, such as Liam Coyle, said they just come for the speakers. “Most folks are from Modesto,” he said, “It’s inspiring.”

“I think it’s really inspiring that people take time off their day to come talk to us,” added sophomore Evelyn Frias.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at naustin@modbee.com or (209) 578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.

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