Aardvark Pumping co-owner Keith Holland stands beside one of his company's septic tank pump trucks. With the help of the Small Business Development Center, Holland is working on an idea that could make his business more friendly to the environment.
Photo by Mark Quiner
Keith Holland, co-owner of Aardvark Pumping, aims to transform the septic pumping business into a state-of-the-art green revolution. And he knows that is no easy task.
The airport manager turned septic-pumping business owner knew when he decided to take over part of his parents' business there would be some challenges especially in transforming an industry. Holland said he was lucky to find the Kenai Peninsula Small Business Development Center.
The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a program that provides counseling, workshops and other resources to help people start or better run a small business. It is funded with federal and Kenai Peninsula Borough money.
There are more than 1,000 offices in the country, similar to the Kenai office, staffed by employees with an entrepreneurial background, said Mark Gregory, director of the peninsula's SBDC.
"They took a real interest in my project," Holland said.
After deciding to enter the world of business two years ago, Holland started calling around looking for people who could give him advice. After some one-on-one counseling sessions he discovered the SBDC was able to tailor their expertise and advice to fit his needs, Holland said.
His needs started with a vision. Since 2003, Holland has been working on bringing technology to the Kenai Peninsula that will make his business and others like it much more environmentally friendly.
Holland acknowledges that pumping septic tanks can be a nasty business. And neighbors do not want waste disposal sites in their backyard, he said. There is a history of citizen outcry regarding these sites, he said.
"We're trying to improve (septic pumping) with a greener process that is friendlier to the community and friendlier to its neighbors," he said.
Because it is still in the experimental stages, Holland does not want to release details on his project but said it very promising.
"It's very exciting," he said.
There were many obstacles when Holland took over the business. He did not have the proper contacts for what he aimed to accomplish, he said. The SBDC was able to connect him with the proper regulatory agencies.
In addition, they helped Holland find other business contacts who had similar goals or who could help him in other ways, he said.
Gregory said his organization is able to help with start-up operations as well as existing business owners. In addition to counseling sessions, they offer a variety of workshops on topics such as the basics of starting a business, he said.
There is interactive software available that gives sample business plans and various industry analysis that help prospective entrepreneurs lean about their industry, Gregory said, adding that this is only the beginning.
Gregory said the center has amassed a tremendous amount of information but has organized it in an easy to understand way. People can come to the center to find tools and answers to some of their questions, he said.
"This small business game is scary enough," he said. "People need hope."
For more information about services provided by the Small Business Development Center, call Bunny Kishaba at 714-2331.
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