A Start-Up Boomed During Hurricane Katrina

A Start-Up Boomed During Hurricane Katrina

A young high school senior boy facing the loss of his mother starts his business, when Hurricane Rita destroys life.

Rob Sutter
Humanity is loosing its geniuses. Aristotle died, Newton passed away, Einstein died, and I am not feeling well today...

Our country was stunned at the devastation Hurricane Katrina brought to our southern shores. Tears were shed for loss of life, homes, and the trauma survivors had endured. In the midst of misery, I also shed tears of joy for the inspiring stories of hope and survival that the media seldom chose to broadcast. After witnessing so much despair, I found myself yearning for more of the heartwarming newscasts. I simply needed to catch my breath every so often. Unfortunately, those reports were few and far between.

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, Hurricane Rita began her trek into the gulf coast waters. Was this déjà vu? Mother nature had spawned yet another wicked daughter, and she was following nearly the same path as her evil sister. As Rita moved closer to the coast, I began to panic. Forecasters predicted her probable landfall, and this time I had several family members in harm’s way. A niece and a daughter were in the Houston area. My great-nephew was in Beaumont, and they were all in the storm’s ferocious line of fire.

Evacuating before 'the last minute,' they all rode out the storm in north Texas, avoided the congested highways, and fortunately returned to homes intact. Kyle, in Beaumont, did return to a home with no fence, no electricity, and no water. Considering their location they fared well. They managed with generators, bottled water, and even military rations for a short time.

But just what does a senior in high school do at this point? He could have lazed in the swimming pool while complaining he was bored, hot, and most of his friends had not yet been able to return home. Instead, this young man printed up business cards, invoices, and even had the wherewithal to note he was not insured or bonded. He and one buddy began looking for jobs. Yards were strewn with debris, and huge trees were ripped out of the ground as if they were twigs. It would not be easy work, but they jumped in headfirst. Out of Rita’s rampage and with a resourceful mind, B&B Service was born.

Then it struck me! Could these 'young businessmen' possibly know how to price work of this nature? When in doubt - I learned that you simply ask! How simple is that? They have not given one estimate; instead they have asked homeowners to determine the job’s worth. Luckily, very few people have tried to take advantage of these eager, young entrepreneurs. For that I am thankful, as working with chain saws is serious business no matter how experienced someone might be. Not to mention, the working conditions were miserable with stifling humidity and heat above 100 degrees.

Kyle’s partner gave up the grueling work after two weeks, but word was out about this prospering new venture. Applicants were clamoring for the job; and before the day was over, B&B Service was fully staffed and going strong. Business was booming!

One job consisted of clearing three entire lots of tumbled, twisted trees and hauling them away. Something of that magnitude needed equipment B&B didn’t have at the ready. Kyle’s father said he chuckled when he overheard his son’s phone conversation. Kyle was wheeling and dealing for the use of someone’s 4X4. He evidently knew he couldn’t possibly estimate the hours involved. Therefore he wasn’t about to rent by the hour. Instead, he negotiated a percentage of the job cost. An agreement was made, and the chain saws began buzzing.

For most of us, fond memories of high school days linger with us for a lifetime. Sadly, Kyle’s memories will begin with the sudden death of his mother and the struggles endured as he dealt with his grief. If that weren’t enough, other stumbling blocks were tossed in his face, and all this while he was just an adolescent – still really a child. For a time I could see him heading down the wrong road, full speed ahead, and could only hope he’d eventually slam on the brakes. Finally this past year, positive changes began to emerge.

Then Rita plowed into his life! She was brutal, yet she seems to be the cause of Kyle making a major, positive decision about his future. 'Enough! No more obstacles are going to get me down.' When Rita’s angry, threatening winds launched lemons, Kyle saw the opportunity to make lemonade; I had a 'sneak peek' at the makings of the man he will become. Oh, I smiled - I like what I see…

Written by Kathleene S. Baker; Image courtesy:

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