When I first got out of the Marines I spent a few months hanging around in San Diego. Worked a few dead end jobs up until July of 2001 which is when I packed my car with everything I owned (or that would fit - it was a small car) and headed back to Ohio. I told myself my motivation for going back was so that I could get back into school and finish a degree. When I first got back I took a job doing demolition at an apartment complex. Not exactly the type of work I wanted to be doing. I stuck around with that for a few months but was laid off after Sept 11th.
The came my first real job at The Greater Cleveland Auto Auction. I would spend my next four years working for my mentor Patrick Morsillo learning the ins and outs of the business world. I would spend three nights a week and every weekend going to school.
I started as a data entry clerk responsible for keeping track of the auctions inventory. Pat could tell I was hungrier then that so he gave me a chance at Dealer Sales or the process of calling on local car dealers to try to get them to send their trade-ins to our auction. I wasn't a great success at this but it did move me towards a skill that I still use today.
At about the two year mark I was given a chance to work my way into management. First as the sales manager, then as the assistant general manager, and finally to the position of general manager. In about the same amount of time it took me to make it to middle management I had also completed a degree from a small university in Cleveland. I really didn't know what I wanted to do with my life but I kept working and kept learning all that I could.
During my time with Pat and the auction I started working with non-profits helping to manage their vehicle donation programs. This was during the hey-days of the car donation industry 2001-2005. I even started my first brokerage company during this time managing car donations across the entire state of Ohio. Around mid 2003 this business was really about to take off. Unfortunately it did not mesh with the plans that the auction owner had so he pulled the plug on it. This was the catalyst I needed to push me towards being an entrepreneur.
This is also the point where I'm ready to talk about My First Successful Start-Up