SuretyBonds.com Scholarship Finalist: Alyssa Haus

Shaping lives in significant ways

Owning a small business takes dedication, hard work, and many long hours. When family is involved, being a business owner is even more challenging since it dominates all aspects of life. Back in 1971, my grandpa opened a small construction company known today as Haus Construction, Inc. in hopes of providing for his family and being his own boss. He knew he would have to work hard to make a name for himself, but little did he know that it would shape the lives of his children and grandchildren in significant ways.

My grandpa started out the business working by himself and getting occasional help from a few part-timers. Building homes takes many hands, and that is why my grandma would bring their children to the job site so that she could help my grandpa paint, stain, and even clean up. At the young age of 11, my dad began lending a hand whenever he could. My grandpa never forced his kids to work, but always gave them the option if they wanted to. When my dad graduated from high school and moved on to college, he quickly realized that he missed home. He knew he had a great opportunity in front of him and working with my grandpa was something that was comfortable. Ever since then, my dad has been working full time for the family business and is now majority owner with many responsibilities. His younger brother, my uncle, also joined the company after graduating high school and is a part owner. My mom plays more of a behind-the-scenes role in the family business, but it is a huge role nonetheless. She is in charge of all the accounting and other office-related functions. Today, my grandpa is semi-retired, but has left a legacy of hard work and a great reputation that will be continued in the years to come.

When we were younger, my brother and I loved to go to work with my dad to help out as the clean up crew. During these days, I began to learn the importance of teamwork, and my dad showed me the definition of a strong work ethic. Especially in a family business, it is all about trying to lessen the load for someone else. When my brother and I were cleaning up at a job site, we thought it was strictly fun, but we were actually saving my grandpa from extra bending. Teamwork is essential in any business. My dad was a great role model for showing us how to lend a hand when someone needs it, whether that be helping someone lift a board or sweeping up a mess. My dad also taught us to finish what you start. Both of these things have influenced who I am today. I am absolutely certain that I would not be as successful in my life if it were not for the influence of my dad and the family business.

Having my mom and dad both being involved in the family business has also taught me to be grateful. Success is not guaranteed in any business — especially small businesses — so I learned early on to be thankful for what you have no matter the situation. Haus Construction, Inc. has had its ups and downs, which does affect my family directly, but we always make the best of the situation. Life is about living within your means. Seeing the effects of a small business on family life has also taught me to be grateful for family time. After starting up the company, my grandpa noticed right away how owning your own business causes the family to be neglected. Throughout my childhood, this was apparent. My dad would work a forty to fifty-five hour workweek on the job plus ten to twelve hours estimating and bidding on new jobs. This required lots of phone calls to various customers or subcontractors during our evenings together at home. Many of these calls would interrupt family dinners. My mom also put in ten to fifteen hours doing the accounting for the business every week. Most of her work took place at night after my dad got home because he would have certain numbers that she needed to complete her tasks. Nevertheless, we always tried to make the most of our time as a family by having dinner together most every night. It is important to cherish the times you do have together.

Additionally, my family members and the family business have taught me the value of self-reliance. My grandpa, dad, and uncle have always found pride in the fact that they are hands-on builders, meaning that they work with the customer from the beginning to the end. They are the ones who discuss the plans, carry out the building, and take care of every last detail. Along with this comes gratification knowing that you were able to accomplish just what the customer wanted while keeping the quality up to par. Doing the work yourself is very important in my everyday life also. I have very high expectations of myself and others because I want high quality in everything I do. Repeatedly doing good work results in a good reputation for businesses, as well as for people. Growing up around a small business has shown me that a good reputation can go a long way.

Whether my grandpa thought it would or not, starting Haus Construction, Inc. shaped my life significantly. I have learned the importance of teamwork, a strong work ethic, gratefulness, and self-reliance. These values have and will continue to influence my life by allowing me to be successful in just about anything that I decide to do. Owning your own business is not easy, but when it comes right down to it, my grandpa has no regrets about starting up the company. The legacy left behind definitely outweighs the negatives.

This essay was written by Alyssa Haus, one of 10 finalists for the SuretyBonds.com Small Business Success Student Scholarship Program. Alyssa and the other finalists were selected from more than 500 applications reviewed by the SuretyBonds.com Scholarship Committee. Three of the finalists will win a $1,500 scholarship to be used toward furthering their education. To vote for Alyssa or any of the other finalists, visit the SuretyBonds.com Small Business Success Student Scholarship voting app on Facebook.