Focus on the Entrepreneur: Grassroots
Making it Work
Making machine parts for friends turned into a thriving business in just two years for one local entrepreneur, thanks to training at Fox Valley Technical College.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect this business to take off so quickly,” says Chuck Duginski, owner of Grassroots Shop Services in Neenah, a quality-focused industrial repair and machine services shop. “We’re already looking into adding more space, but we don’t want to grow faster than what we can handle.”
Grassroots Shop Services began in Duginski’s garage as a part-time hobby. “I was a machinist all my life and friends were always asking me for favors,” he recalls. “When a total stranger came to see me, the light bulb went on that this could be a full-time business.”
Before launching his new enterprise, Duginski looked into training options through the Venture Center at Fox Valley Technical College, at the insistence of his wife, Mary Beth. “I was a little intimidated at first,” he states. “However, the e-seed™ program quickly taught a hands-on, 50-year-old guy like me how to run a business. Just learning to be aware of the different tax laws, for example, has saved my company a lot of money.”
Once launched, the business quickly outgrew his garage space. Within six months of moving into a larger space, Duginski hired his first employee, and six months later, his second. “Word has spread that we’re a quality shop, and we’re now in demand,” he says. “We have a full range of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines to handle every project. We want to be a company that keeps work in the United States rather than having it outsourced.”
Amy Pietsch, director of the Venture Center, points to Duginski as a true success story. “Chuck is a great person who had a vision, and then he took that dream and made it into a practical approach toward small business ownership,” she states. “The American economy needs more people like Chuck.”
The Venture Center is now working to encourage more entrepreneurship across the country by offering other colleges a license to provide the e-seed™ program in their areas. “More than 40 schools nationwide attended our launch last December,” Pietsch says. “Many of them are now taking the next steps in a train-the-trainer model to successfully implement the program.”
Duginski is also working with Pietsch to promote e-seed™. “In the future, I plan to go back to Fox Valley Technical College to attend some seminars and possibly receive more training,” he says. “I would do it now, but frankly, I just don’t have the time!”
E-seed™: Growing Entrepreneurs
Developed by Fox Valley Technical College, e-seed™ is a signature entrepreneur training program offered through the Venture Center. This hub of entrepreneurial activity has:
Launched more than 300 businesses, in industries like renewable energies, restaurants, organic clothing, eye care, home health care, retail, manufacturing, shipping and distribution, and many more.
Created a national training model that is being offered by other higher education institutions.