After his discovery, Curtis started at his family’s business as a 23-year-old floor tech earning $6.25 an hour. The hours were brutal — from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., he cleaned a local Super Cuts.

“You were covered with hair, because you’d turn on a high-speed buffer and” — Curtis pauses with a smirk, seemingly revisiting the time in his head — “it’d spit hair everywhere,” he says.

Working these difficult cleaning hours while others were sleeping did present Curtis with some “grass is always greener on the other side moments.” Luckily Curtis’ father kept him in the fold with the other side of the business enough so that he could see the big picture. Always strong when it came to mathematics, Curtis fit right in with the accounting department while also working nights as a cleaning technician.

“I was a floor tech and I’d walk in wearing a T-shirt and jeans and I would sit in on staff meetings. I started to get a feeling of ‘Hey, this isn’t just me out swinging a mop. This is an actual business growing,’” he says.

Seeing the gritty, blue-collar side of the business has done wonders for Curtis, because he now knows the trials and tribulations those workers endure.

“When I first started I had 26 guys in my department and I was the only one who spoke English, so that forced me to learn another language,” says Curtis. “I’m not fluent, but I can speak fluent cleaning.”

There were times after a long shift where Curtis would be invited back to the homes of his co-workers to spend time and dine. On a few of the instances, he would arrive at a co-worker’s home to find poor living conditions. Despite all of the hardships they faced, Curtis says these co-workers were proud of their residence and wanted to share it with friends like him.

“When you have 10 or 15 people living in a three bedroom apartment because that’s what they can afford to do, yet they give you the slim morsel of food they have because you’re a guest … you get a certain appreciation,” he says.

Curtis earned the respect and friendship of his co-workers through action. His work ethic showed he was much more than a son of the boss waiting for a handout.

“They expect you to work harder,” says Curtis of the floor tech workers. “They stuck it to you because you’re the boss’ kid. If you stepped up to it then they’d respect you for it.”

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