Passion for Business and Helping People Leads to Success
Preston Mossman did not have an idyllic childhood and his educational experience started out like a train wreck.
While growing up in a shattered home, he and his mother moved around, his brother was murdered, his mom received death threats, and Mossman dropped out of high school. He tried to right himself, getting his general education development (GED) high school diploma and enrolling in Allen County Community College. From there he hopped to Fort Hays State and eventually wound up at Hutchinson Community College.
"I didn't exactly take the path I want my kids to take," said Mossman, "but it has all given me a good perspective and helped me find what I am passionate about."
Much of that passion was found at the Home Depot in Hutchinson and got him on solid footing at Emporia State University.
It was at Home Depot where Mossman's perspective of helping people and his understanding of capitalism came together to send him on his passionate course to get his business degree at ESU and then go on to get a MBA-JD degree.
Mossman became sort of a rock star at Home Depot when he helped a customer who was looking at a back harness and some hardware that might be rigged into something that would allow him to enjoy his passion of fishing. The customer, Kevin Wassinger, had his left arm amputated at the shoulder after a motorcycle accident.
"I see a tall, slender man with a black harness and missing an arm," recalled Mossman. "I was impressed with his story. It was devastating, like having the wind knocked out of you. He couldn't do the thing he was most passionate about, fishing. He was trying to use a flagpole holder but it didn't work. I got his name and number and told him if I came up with anything I would get back to him. I didn't want to give him any false hope."
Mossman bounced it off some co-workers at the store, and at first, they sort of thought it might be a stupid idea, he said, but soon everyone was supportive and throwing out ideas.
"I came up with what I just call a Fishing Rod Holder," said Mossman. It is basically a back support belt with a piece of PVC pipe attached that holds the fishing rod at a 45-degree angle at Wassinger's mid section.”
Mossman called Wassinger and asked him to come see what he had come up with, but he admits he was afraid it might be a disappointment.
"I almost started crying when those guys gave this to me," Wassinger told the Hutchinson News. "I was dumfounded."
Another customer Mossman met one day was a woman looking for a storage shed. Mossman found one that would work, but the woman said she needed it assembled and delivered, not a service the store offered. Then the woman gave her reason for needing the storage shed.
"She had two children and a husband that had recently passed away and needed a place to store their clothing," said Mossman. "It was a tragic story. A co-worker and I went over to her house and assembled the shed for her."
His drive to help people comes a lot from how much help he has received.
"I've had so many people that have helped me along the way, I wouldn't be here without them. I want to give back," he said.
And his business experience at Home Depot, he currently commutes from Emporia to work in the Topeka store, gave him a good understanding of how capitalism can play an important role in helping people.
"Capitalism gets a lot of flack," said Mossman, "but there is no better way of elevating people from poverty."
Mossman would like to be a general counsel for a corporation or work in human resources.
"I am interested in law because it focuses on values and an analytical way of thinking about things. It's like stoicism, removing self from it. And I am just as passionate, if not more, about business. Even when I was young, when other kids were reading Sports Illustrated, I was reading Fortune and Forbes."
As for selecting Emporia State University, Mossman said it came down to love and reputation.
"I came to Emporia State to finish my undergraduate degree and be with my girlfriend. She has sort of a dynasty here because her father and grandfather went to school here and she has wanted to go here her whole life. I also heard such good things about the School of Business and there are so many exciting things happening at Emporia State.
"I am really glad I came here. I have been very impressed with the faculty. Don Miller (professor of business administration and education) Dr. Zhou (professor of marketing), Dr. Clamurro (director of the honors program), and Richard Schrock (professor of biological sciences) are great. The classes seem more dynamic, a lot more interesting, and faculty really have a passion about what they are teaching."
Mossman was also impressed with the support services at Emporia State.
"I met Jason Bosch (senior director of the Center for Student Involvement) and he is outstanding. June Coleman at Career Services spent so much time with me developing my resume and helping me with career ideas. All the people have gone above and beyond."
The beauty, affordability, small classes, and easy access of the ESU campus were other factors Mossman mentioned for his decision to enroll at Emporia State.
"Campus is beautiful and easy to get to. The cost of living is low. You can live like a king for a lot less here. It has been a real good experience. There is so much going on at the university and it seems like the best is yet to come. You won't find a nicer student union.
"Classes are small, and intimate, so dialogue with professors is much easier. You just have to reach out to them. It is a safe campus and community. It is a good location because it is easy to get to Kansas City, Topeka, or Wichita. And there are plenty of jobs. The downtown area is growing and everything you need is really within walking distance."
A top priority for Mossman at Emporia State was getting involved. He joined Enactus and the Marketing Club on campus, and then teamed with fellow business students Soojin Bae and Jeffrey Miller to enter the first 3D Emporia business venture competition at Emporia State. Mossman’s group put together a business plan for a bike rental kiosk business for the Emporia State students and Emporia community members. They took third place and won $1,000.