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The Emerging Entrepreneur

The Emerging Entrepreneur The Emerging Entrepreneur

By Ross Pattermann The Tribune Phonograph

There’s a long and proud tradition in this country of businesses starting in a garage, basement or some other spare space in a house or an apartment.

Steve Jobs built the first Apple computers in a small garage in Cupertino, California. Jeff Bezos began Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, next to a pot-bellied stove in his Seattle garage.

Zachary Brockhaus takes a great deal of inspiration from those success stories, and while his burgeoning business, ZB Designs, is currently located in his parent’s downstairs spare bedroom, he has big goals and has no intentions to be there any longer than he has to.

“I plan on taking this out of the basement and get into an actual shop so people can come there and discuss things. I’m definitely going to have something a little more legit than just me in the basement. It’s not going to be there forever.”

It’s a humble beginning, but Brockhaus, at just 21, hasn’t let his age or his location stop him from becoming one of Central Wisconsin’s youngest entrepreneurs. And at a time where most of his peers are working towards a four year college degree, Brockhaus has already been in business for two years.

“I started in 2018 when I bought a small 24 inch vinyl cutter,” Brockhaus says about his first forays into the world of business. “One of my friends raced and I did his [race car wrap] and I thought that was cool. So then after I graduated from Northcentral Technical College (NTC) I decided to buy more equipment.”

That vinyl cutter cost $300, and in the following months, Brockhaus added a shirt and hat press for an additional $200. He slowly and patiently began to grow his business all while pursuing his graphic arts degree from NTC in Wausau. Upon graduation from NTC Brockhaus briefly debated getting more education in graphic design.

“I was contemplating going on to UW -Stout for another two years, and getting a four year degree, but I was trying to figure out costs - how much does it cost to go to Stout, versus how much does it cost to start up my own business?”

Brockhaus weighed his options, even going so far as to tour the campus of UW-Stout several times. He saw Stout’s campus and facilities, checked out their programs and classes, and after carefully considering his choices, he came to the conclusion that college could wait.

“At Stout it did seem like I would learn some things there, but I felt like I had a very good understanding of what I needed to know already.” Brockhaus also discovered the differences in costs was also rather large. “After looking at everything, I found out it was cheaper to start my own business than go to Stout.”

During his time at NTC Brockhaus had been doing small jobs here and there with his vinyl cutter, where he made, printed and cut race car decals.

“The first year I did my first car, and then the second year I did the same car again. I thought to myself, ‘You know, just doing one car and that’s it . . . I feel like I can make some more money off of this, do more than just deals.’ It was easy to add the shirt press, it was only $200, and I thought, ‘let it rip.’” In the summer of 2019, Brockhaus took the plunge and started his own business, ZB Designs. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Brockhaus’ first step was getting the equipment he

THE YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR- Zachary Brockhaus, a recent graduate of Colby High and Northcentral Technical College (NTC) shows one of his finished products that he makes as the owner of ZB Designs. Brockhaus began ZB Designs in 2018 as a student at NTC. He creates an array of signs, stickers, decals, hats, shirts and race car wraps.