Two environmental entrepreneurs make a plan, win a prize,and take their business on the road to success
Starting a business often begins with a bright idea. However, success in business requires translating that bright idea into a solid plan.
Casi McClure and April Freeman won the first-ever EntrePaducah Business Plan Competition sponsored by Paducah Bank by doing just that. The bright idea was a bit trashy but their plan was thorough and strong. In June, the judges awarded the enterprising twosome its top prize.
Both Casi and April are Paducah natives who returned to Paducah from Nashville after being away for a number of years. Like so many urban areas, Nashville offers curbside recycling pickup and Casi and April were shocked to discover there was no similar service in Paducah.
“We both looked at each other and said, ‘That is something that definitely needs to be done,’” Casi recalls.
A close friend encouraged the women to pitch the idea to Terry Reeves, concierge for EntrePaducah. After receiving some positive feedback, Casi and April decided to enter the contest. Of course, like any successful business entity, the owners’ passion for the idea went beyond mere supply and demand.
“For me, my daughter played a large part in my reason to pursue this,” Casi said. “I felt that building a business from the ground up, a business that you wouldn’t typically expect women to own and operate, and a business that enhances the community, sets a pretty good example, and will hopefully make her proud one day!”
As for April, she had recently left a job with Sandals resort, which had required lots of time on the road. “I was just ready to do something that didn’t involve airports and hotels!”
Both women agree that making Dream Green a reality was one of the hardest things they have ever done. Winning the competition was just the beginning. The women soon learned that Paducah has an ordinance which only allows city workers to pick up solid waste at homes within the city limits. In order to put their business plan into action, April and Casi had to present their plan and seek the approval of the mayor and city commissioners.
Next, the green team had to tackle the logistics of their recycling operation. Casi and April say they could not have done it without the help of Paducah Bank.
“We love working with Paducah Bank,” Casi says. “We met Mr. Framptom when we won the contest and he was very encouraging about our business concept. Bob Bloomingburg is our commercial lender and without Bob, we wouldn’t have a truck to drive. It can be a very intimidating experience when you go to a bank to ask for a loan, but Bob made us feel at ease and walked us through the process.”
April agrees. “Not only did he help us with our loan, but he was instrumental in getting all of the branches to sign up for our service. We owe Mr. Framptom, Bob, and everyone at Paducah Bank a tremendous amount of gratitude.”
The women hope to repay that gratitude by giving back to the community. Casi and April have plans for semi-annual donation drops and hope to incorporate one or two Christmas runs into the process to collect toys for children in need.
After all, these two know better than most that one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure (and/or business plan!).