Kenny DeFord, owner of DeFord's Fuel & Oil, has been in the business since a youth and just can't stay away.
"My dad started paying me at 14, but I worked in the business before that," he said. "My dad retired when I was 26 and I took over from him. We got up to five stations and 30 employees and were doing both tires and fuel. I got burned out. Someone happened to come in with an offer to buy me out and I decided to take it."
That was not the end of DeFord's involvement in the industry however.
"I came out of retirement to work for the people who bought me out," he explained. "But they ended up going out of business. When a competitor asked me to come work for him, I did. That worked out very well for a while. Then he decided he wanted me to buy him out. We worked up a deal and I brought in my family to help me. We're a family business that feels like most of our customers are family."
DeFord's Fuel & Oil delivers fuel and oil to farms, loggers and construction companies.
"We do our best to provide the best service to our customers," DeFord said. "I deliver to the customers myself. More than 50 percent of our customers came with me from Hastings. Their parents dealt with my dad and their grandfather with my grandfather."
DeFord's advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to work hard and provide outstanding customer service.
"Be ready to put the hours in," he said. "If you're not willing to put the time in, you won't make it. You carry it home at night and get up thinking about it. It's all about customer service. If you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will."
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