In the midst of running his construction business, while wrapping up his senior year at Dakota Wesleyan University, Seth Soesbe has come a long way from being a once troubled youth.
Growing up in Box Elder, Soesbe's life changed when he joined the Douglas High School football team, whose coach Kevin Ham advised him to consider attending college.
"I used to be kind of a troublemaker in my younger days, and I wasn't even considering going to college," Soesbe said. "But my coach gave me the push to further my education at Mitchell Technical Institute."
Being raised in a family with a construction background, Soesbe narrowed down his desired area of study to architecture and drafting, if he were to pursue college.
Since Soesbe's grandparents lived in Gregory, along with it being the home to one of Soesbe's most instrumental mentors Steve Syfie, owner of Syfie Construction, he decided to attend MTI in the fall of 2015.
"He taught me most of what I know in construction, and spending so much time with him became like a father and son relationship," Soesbe said of Syfie, who currently lives in Gregory. "I had a lot of long weekends and road trips, but they were worth it."
He credits Syfie's mentorship for providing real world, invaluable experience in owning a construction business that would influence Soesbe later in life.
When Soesbe decided to trek East River upon graduating high school, his journey to success launched when he walked through the doors of MTI. He graduated in 2017 with an associate degree in architectural design and drafting.
"Having such great instructors at MTI, they gave me the confidence to start believing I could have a future in construction," he said.
Combining the skillsets he learned at MTI with his valuable experience in seeing what goes into operating a construction business, the then-20-year-old entrepreneur decided it was time to act on his dream of starting his own contracting business. On Nov. 3, 2016, Soesbe Contracting was born.
"I was also working at Shopko full-time when I started the business, but I lived with some great guys that were a big support group in helping me make it all work," he said. "They would even help me tape and texture."
Soesbe said networking and timing have made all of the difference in his prosperity, because he was presented with a unique opportunity to be the first MTI student to pursue a bachelor's degree at DWU through a new joint program.
"It's cool knowing that I'm the first to enroll in the joint program, and I've learned so much at DWU already," he said. "I've enjoyed watching how close the community of Mitchell is, and the timing of me looking to get an entrepreneurial business degree worked out perfect."
It didn't take long for the budding businessman to make his mark at DWU. In his first year on campus, he used his innovative mind to create a self-driving robot he calls the RoboCon, which earned him a first place finish and a $600 grant at the Student Idea Competition in Sioux Falls last year.
Soesbe has experienced how important making connections in the community can be, and Ryan Van Zee, associate entrepreneurship professor at DWU, has been one of those valuable connections.
It was Van Zee who guided Soesbe to apply for a free office space at BankWest's new Entrepreneurial Center located on Sanborn Boulevard, which includes access to resources provided by Endorf Lurken Olson & Co. financial advisers, along with legal guidance from Morgan Theeler LLP.
"It's exciting to see somebody ambitious like Seth succeed," Van Zee said. "His ability to learn and network have helped him tremendously along the way."
While the stars have been aligning for the DWU senior, there are plenty of challenges he's had to overcome in his journey.
Chief among those challenges are time and cash flow management. Soesbe acknowledges he is on a steep learning curve, but the services from ELO have made the process easier.
"Come finals time, it's really hard to keep up with completing jobs on time and study," he said. "But every problem has a solution, and you just have to find it."
Soesbe's entrepreneurial spirit continues to drive the 22-year-old to new heights, as he's looking to build a duplex for himself, and some friends, to call his home in the near future. With a few contracting jobs on deck, Soesbe said he's learned to love the journey of growing his own business, regardless of the stress.
"I plan to keep growing my contracting business in this community that's provided me so many opportunities," Soesbe said. "I want to contribute in helping grow Mitchell, and give back to kids that have dreams to start their own business."