Owner, 360 Services
Michael Crafton and his friends from Indiana University had grand plans after graduation: They wanted to be Mark Cuban.
A year later, during a night out in Broad Ripple, they agreed to quit the corporate jobs they’d taken and start a business cleaning restaurant exhaust hoods and grease traps. One of Crafton’s friends had done that kind of work during his school breaks and boasted that his boss was a billionaire. (“Which I realize now was a complete lie,” Crafton said with a laugh.)
So the next day, Crafton resigned. “I called my buddies from the parking lot,” he recalled, “and said, ‘I quit my job, let’s do this.’ And they all said, ‘You’re crazy. I didn’t think you were serious. There’s no way I’m quitting my job.’”
Crafton forged ahead, though. He’d never cleaned an exhaust hood and didn’t know anything about the business, had no management experience and barely got through accounting. But he could sell. So he went on the Internet, familiarized himself with the exhaust cleaning process, then took to the streets. He’d clean at night and sell during the day.
It took two years to get his company, 360 Services, rolling. Now he has 51 employees, offices in Indianapolis, Evansville, Fort Wayne and New Albany, and had annual revenue approaching $4 million last year.
Not only is the business a success, but Crafton gives work to a number of people who, because of criminal records or past substance abuse problems, can’t get hired elsewhere. He takes pride in being a good employer, paying some workers $30,000 to $40,000 a year in an industry where $8 to $10 an hour is the norm.
“When people see that this is a good place to be and we take care of them and they can come to us for hardship-type situations and they’re being rewarded,” he said, “they’re not going to do anything to screw things up.”•