Interview with Entrepreneur Essay.
1. Why did you start your own business?
Curt has always had a passion for engineering. When he was younger he work as a mechanical engineer through AMP. Then changed to metal engineering but decided he was tired of working for corporate office after 7 years and pursed his hobby into a career. Curt has always enjoyed boating and good seafood. For years before his founded business, he would enjoy being on the boat and catching good seafood which is when he wanted to bring fresh seafood to central Pennsylvania.
2. Is running your own business as hard as everyone says that it is? Yes and no. He’s states that there are pro’s and con’s to any situation especially in the business world. He views his pro’s would be to be able to set your own schedule and to him, he sees his “work” not so much as work but something that he enjoys and looks forward to waking up every day to.
Some of the con’s he listed were that it’s hard to have leave time away from his business. He solely owns 2 local businesses; one located on Eisenhower Blvd., Harrisburg and the other on the Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg, and an online business.
The online shop (www.ilovecrabs.com) is ran out of his Carlisle pike location where fed ex comes daily to deliver next day shipment to anyone within the 50 states. His business has been very successful. 3. Do you believe the efforts and rewards for owning your own business are worth the sacrifices? Yes, Curt believes that he is very happy with the outcome of where his business is today. He says that he might change a few things looking back but nothing too serious. He says the business world is about risk and sometimes things work very well and sometimes they fail but it’s always good to know when to back out and when to leap towards something. 4. Did you always see yourself as an entrepreneur, or that you would in time, owning your own business? To a certain extent he has always wanted more. Between 16-17 years old, he seemed to be great at buying and selling different things. Even working as an engineer for 7 years, he would buy and sell anything really that he could make a profit on.
5. How did you finance your initial startup costs for your small business? He saved some money working but he also went to the bank for part of it. His mother, Sharon Engle, helps with organizing his finances every Tuesday. 6. How do you market or advertise? What seems to have the most positive effect in bringing in profitable customers? Curt used to do the advertising himself but he has hired someone to do that for him to help take some load off. Most advertising is through their internet retail website (www.ilovecrabs.com), but their two local retail shops work with clipper magazine, or you could sign up with their crabsavers newsletter and save $10 off your first order and receive either text messages and or emails with coupons and special deals weekly.
They used to advertise with the newspaper and yellow pages but he claims it’s becoming a dying trade. He uses organic advertising online with google now too. He also states the radio is a way to have local customers aware that he is bringing this fresh seafood in daily but not so much for sales and promotions, he sticks to his coupons and surplus sales.Teaming up with Obrycki’s from Maryland, Harbour house crabs now provides the Obryck’s famous seasoning along with their personal blends of seasonings.
7. What’s your greatest entrepreneurial achievement?
That the business is still thriving after 15 years since being founded. His first retail shop boomed to the online business after about his first 2-3 years of opening. It became such a hit that in 2009 he opened his second retail shop and moved his online shop to process through the second shop due to size and area. 8. How do you identify business opportunities and what measures do you take to decide whether to invest into this opportunity? He says usually he will stick with his gut feeling but sometimes it’s a little more in depth then that he explains. After successfully launching his second store for 1 ½ years, he decided to partner up with Captain Bob’s restaurant. Unfortunately, it became a little too much to handle with the ordering of their products vs. what his small retail shop has to offer. So after 1 year, he gave back his part of the company to the owner of Captain Bob’s and still sells fresh crabs to the restaurant as they have always done before.
9. What’s the toughest feedback you’ve ever received and how did you learn or improve from it? “There will always be customers that you won’t be able to satisfy no matter how much you try to do for them in fixing the situation.” He said the first few negative comments he received was through his online website and was taken personally. Curt had taken this hard because he wasn’t able to satisfy the customers, which is his company’s main goal when providing this fresh food. 10. What makes your business stand out from your competitors? “We stand out in quality and customer service.”
He says, “We can’t control mother nature and there are certain variables that cause things to be difficult at times but when something happens, our team is encouraged to kill the customer with kindness but also with that have a strong backbone for the company, don’t let someone step all over you but be kind.”
11. How many hours do you work daily? How has this effected your personal or family life? Do you take time out to have fun? Well because Curt doesn’t have a partner, his phone is on him 24/7 and will answer from the time he wakes up until 10pm. He does have a home office and bases all his finances, strategies, and more at his home so it’s difficult sometimes to have to separate the two. He enjoys it to be near his family more but then again he walks away from a lot to take a business call. 12. What kind of culture exists in your organization?
The culture that goes with my products are anyone who enjoys fresh seafood, someone or even a group wanting to get together to crack open some crabs and enjoy quality food with quality time given. Bringing friends and families together. 13. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur. Challenging.
14. Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?
His grandfather because in 1934 during the great depression era, his grandfather opened up a small business selling Engle equipment, originally type-writers. The business took off so well that Curt’s father and uncle took it over when his grandfather passed. Eventually Toshiba bought the company out and still sells equipment today! 15. Describe how you built a successful profitable customer base? Curt believes finding a service or product that the customers want or demand is the first step he took, then backing that up with customer service has what made this so successful. 16. What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
“Never give up?” Curt explains to me that he tells his kids for example that when they say something like “I can’t”, he will in return respond “Never say I can’t, that’s giving up before even trying, and you should at least always try whether you win or lose.” 17. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire most and why? Is it a product or service that draws you in? Amazon. He loves not only the products that are so easily obtained but he loves their fast and reliable service provided. 18. Knowing what you know now, is there anything that you would do differently? “I would”. There were a few investments Curt had but they weren’t worth the trouble. “It’s still an experience”, he says but it’s good to know when to leave.
19. If I were to want to open up a small business tomorrow, what would be the top priority on my to-do list? He suggests to write a business plan and take it to the business administration building so they can review it and approve your idea. It takes a lot of research to find all that you need but it’s the foundation of the whole project. He also says that looking back at his first business plan, it’s accurate but at the same time off from what it really was from his planning. 20. Do you have an exit strategy?
Currently Mr. Engle is looking for an exit strategy because he didn’t really have one at the time of presenting his plan. He did but not what he is really planning now. Ironically as I asked Curt this question, he asked me about taking over the business but I also did work for him from 2005-2013 so I do know a lot about running the stores. I denied though because I have other plans.