Ross Black, founder of Simple Box Storage, which has eight locations in the Northwest, was named the 2019 “Washington Small Business Person of the Year” by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Awards are given to owners who “represent the nation’s strong entrepreneurial spirit and rich diversity” and make contributions to their local communities, according to nomination guidelines. As a state winner, Black will be entered to compete for the “National Small Business Person of the Year” award, which will be announced during National Small Business Week, May 5-11.
Black launched his container-based storage business in 1997 as a class project while he was a senior at Lynden High School in Lynden, Wash. He sold his car, a 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback, to fund the business near Wiser Lake, just south of the city, according to the Simple Box website.
“I was not a good student, and my teachers said as part of the senior-class project, if I needed extra time outside of the classroom to work on my project, I could do that as long as it was productive,” Black told the source. “I tried to come up with the biggest possible thing I could do that had me in school the least amount of time, and that was starting a mini-storage.”
When Black later decided to expand, he began also selling and renting shipping containers. Although he started the company to make money, he now has a more altruistic vision for it. “It’s really through serving others I find success. This business is an excellent way to serve others,” he told the source.
Simple Box is active in charitable efforts on a local, national and global scale. The company has provided containers filled with relief supplies after disasters, donated containers to ministries and hosted various donation drives, the website states.
Although honored by the award, Black praises his team, including his dad, Dave Black. “He’s cheered me on from day one,” Ross Black said. “It’s funny. He jokes he helped me finish my senior project, but I wouldn’t have finished it 22 years ago if it weren’t for his help, and I definitely wouldn’t have won this award.”
Headquartered in Bellingham, Wash., Simple Box operates storage facilities in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. It also provides portable-storage containers for purchase or rental, which can be used for household or business moves.
London Tribune, Simple Box Storage Owner Named Small Business Person of the Year
U.S. Small Business Administration, National Small Business Week 2019 Award Nominations Guidelines