Business made ‘EZ’

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The family environment provided by Beaufort County Community College helped Terry Graham, a local business owner, build the skills he needed to set out on his own.

Graham, 47, founded and owns EZ Janitorial, a professional residential and commercial cleaning company. While the path to success has had some obstacles, Graham is ready to take the business to the next level.

Graham earned an Associate in Arts degree in computer technology in May 2016, but it was a business class that sparked his decision to run his own business. In the past, he worked for the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office for four years, having graduated from the basic law-enforcement training program in 1997. He later went into the United States Army, eventually retiring and looking around for the next step in his life.

Graham returned to BCCC, where his military service helped him get four credit hours for a health and physical education requirement. As he progressed through his degree program, he took a business class with Cynthia King, and started thinking about what it would take to start his own business. Since graduating he has built a successful company.

EZ Janitorial now employs 10 part-time staff and provides regular services to 10 businesses, alongside special services to others. It services medical, dental and other offices from Wilmington to Roanoke Rapids, and cleans up after construction for new businesses. Graham started the business while attending BCCC after learning about logos, licensing, insurance and marketing during a business class.

“I should just get out there, start my own business and see how it goes,” he recalled thinking while taking the class.

He realized that a good business starts by isolating a niche that no one else was servicing. The lack of professional cleaning companies locally provided a great opening for his company.

Graham attended different colleges, including ECU and Pitt Community College, but found the family-style atmosphere at BCCC best suited for him.

“There was no waiting to see your advisor,” Graham said. “Even to see the president of the college, you just walk in and talk to the secretary.”

He was struggling with math and went to seek help from his instructor, who gave him pointers on where to focus. “When I went to those instructors, it was amazing how I flipped,” he recalled.

Starting a business was not easy. He tried selling all sorts of products: tires, rims, furniture and cars. He briefly ran a landscaping company. When his ideas fell flat, his determination helped him reformulate his business.

“The world is filled with opportunities. You are not going to find it sitting down,” he said.

Now that he has succeeded, he wants to take it to the next level. He wants to see if he can line up some contracts with state agencies. No matter what Graham does, it is likely he will succeed. “You have to pursue what you want. You have to get up and dust yourself off.”