Whatever route you take, you have to do it for yourself

August 5, 2020
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Whatever route you take, you have to do it for yourself

Whatever route you take, you have to do it for yourself

“Sometimes the struggle has to come before paradise. I grew up in Mobile and went to Faulkner State for two semesters, then dropped out. I worked at Olive Garden for three years then worked at Sherwin Williams. When I was a kid, I thought I was going into the NBA. At about 13, I wanted to get into real estate because my mom had a real estate company. I never saw myself dropping out of school and starting my own business. Whatever route you go on, you have to do it for yourself.

At Sherwin Williams, my boss was selling a power washing machine. I bought it because it looked like a cool machine. I thought it was a big generator, I had never heard of power washing. I bought it in September 2015, and it sat at my mom’s house because I didn’t know what to do with it. I started the business in November and washed my mom and family member’s houses, learning as I went. The first years were rough. I always tried to have people helping me so I didn’t look like a one-man shop. I wouldn’t make a dime, but enough to pay my guys. I bought a lot of machines and then sold some going back and forth between trying to get started and trying to pay bills and rent. Sometimes I had to pawn a machine to put gas in the van to get to a job. Each day, all of the money I made went to pay a bill, there was nothing else. There were late payments, negative balances, leftovers, eviction and moving in with my mom. But I still tried to give to others less fortunate. There were nights I had nothing to eat and drank water just trying to stay full. Sometimes I still eat late at night because I remember how it feels to go to bed hungry.

I broke my knee in 2016 and had to learn how to walk again. I went into a deep depression. I didn’t know depression was real until then. I was out for three months. I finally had a full month booked up, and I lost most of those clients. I lost all motivation and had to mentally get to a place where I could start over and do it again. It was a painful year, physically and mentally. I saw my friends living regular lives and realized there was no way I was going to stay stuck In this place. The battles prepared me for the next level. They also humbled me. You don’t forget those times. I bet everything on this. I am trying to catch up with all of my losses, but I rounded the curve last year.

When I quit my job to do this full time, I didn’t feel like I had support. I wanted to prove everyone wrong. Then I started to develop a passion for power washing and I love what I do. If I didn’t have to pay the bills, I would do this for free. It is instant gratification to watch something to go from dirty to clean and before my eyes. Work brings me the worst stress, but it is also my stress reliever. During the worst times, I kept going because I do a lot of mentoring and have younger kids that look up to me. If they can see me make it, they know they can too, even if they see me hit a wall. I can’t tell them not to quit and if you start something, finish it, if I don’t do the same thing. I have to be accountable and practice what I preach.

I became a mentor at Davidson High School the year after I graduated from there. Before the Coronavirus, I went up there about twice a week. I help out little kids around the neighborhood. mentoring Big Brothers Big Sisters came out of that. I wish younger people ages 20-25 would become Bigs because we are still young enough for kids to relate to in a different way. Sometimes kids just need that one person to say good job and I am proud of you. Simple things can change a kids’ life. I was passionate as a kid and had a lot of opinions. I was quick to speak my mind and sometimes got in trouble for that. I had some men in my life who were role models and father figures, but never that one I wanted to be just like him. I try to be that for Roe, my little brother in the Big Brother Big Sister program. I try to be the right person for him. If I had a mentor in my life, I would have skipped some of the years struggling. Roe won’t go through the same things I have through because I can guide him through better. The next generation of kids is coming up and they have access to so much more than we had and can be pulled in to so much. They have to be mentally strong and they need mentors to develop good judgment.

We power wash Davidson High School. The first time we cleaned it, I was emotional. I sat in those chairs seven years earlier. My school trusted me with the company that I built. It meant so much to me. I want to start a mentorship through my business and bring high school guys to work with me for three years during high school. I tell young guys coming out of high school to work and get an apartment to hold up, freedom isn’t cheap. Go to school or live with your mama a little longer and save your money. I work 80 hours a week and have a great group of guys. I keep them working steady and we are feeding families and paying rent. Every Friday payday is a big moment for me.

I am learning to relax and go fishing, but I work best with pressure on my shoulders. It pushes me harder. I try to be as genuine and transparent as I can. I want to buy properties soon and get into real estate. I still have that dream. My mom taught me to be unstoppable. Whatever she wants, she gets, and she doesn’t make any excuses. She is the strongest person I know. We talk everyday and she pushes me from her example. I have to make my mom proud.”

Darren Heningburg

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