When Jesse Sage was in his teens, his head was swimming with ideas for new business ventures – a stark contrast with his peers at the time who were otherwise preparing for high school graduation and college.
Sage remembers thinking completing his English paper as “not important to his future.” Subsequently, he dropped out of high school — never earning his diploma or a bachelor’s degree. In his teen years, Sage came up with several business ventures, including a clothing line and auto detailing, but none of them took off.
In 2009, at the age of 19, Sage decided to piggyback on his dad’s carpet dyeing and carpet cleaning business, Mr. Color, a home-based operation in Federal Way. He purchased equipment from a partner of his dad’s and traveled to California, starting his own division of Mr. Color. Trying to make it on his own in California for a year, he quickly learned he couldn’t do all the work on his own and needed a team.
He returned to Federal Way and, in August 2014, at the age of 24, took the reins of Mr. Color as full-time manager.
“Between August 2014 and December 2015, after I came on, we were able to double our annual revenues,” Sage said. “I have goals to do it again this year.”
Sage, now 25, has aspirations to break $500,000 in revenue in 2016. Since taking over management of the company, he’s drafted a new business plan, launched aggressive sales and marketing campaigns, is reworking the company website, and increasing Mr. Color’s social media presence.
“My father is set in his ways, so it’s fun to change it up,” Sage said.
Sage’s father, Dave, incorporated Mr. Color in 1989. A business partner of Dave Sage owns the patent on the dyes used exclusively by Mr. Color, and any color, aside from white, is custom-made from primary colors – red, yellow and blue – for each project. Mr. Color’s carpet dyeing method is a spray-on application.
“A big thing we do is bleach spot repairs,” Jesse Sage said. “We will dye the color back in just in the spot where the carpet is bleached.”
Sage said his goal with the company moving forward is to set a new industry standard.
“We want to create an enjoyable experience for customers, making sure we get it done right for the customer the first time,” Sage explained.
Sage also has an aggressive growth plan. He will receive keys on May 1 to a new office/warehouse space in Auburn where Mr. Color will relocate, occupying a 400-square-foot office and a 2,000-square-foot warehouse space.
“It’s not a one-van operation anymore,” Sage said. “Right now, we have three vans. Eventually we will have four vans per shop.”
Sage said Mr. Color will have a three-year lease on the Auburn space, and he plans to eventually purchase a plot of land somewhere in the South Puget Sound region to build a space to Mr. Color’s specifications, likely a four-bay shop with an attached office. Sage’s goal is to have two shops at full operation within five years and one shop growing to full operation. Each shop would employ 13 people, including four master technicians and four technicians.
“As an entrepreneur, I always want to create careers for people,” Sage said. “I want to hire them as technicians and empower them to grow into management of a shop.”
Sage also wants Mr. Color to contribute to the community in different ways. In 2015, the company sponsored the Federal Way Chamber’s Advancing Leadership program, and last September was a bronze sponsor for the Keller Williams Cares dinner auction.
“I would like to continue that and make it an annual thing,” he said.
Sage, who turns 26 in June, said he has no regrets about dropping out of high school or not attending college. He said his prowess with numbers and math and his ability to glean knowledge from those who have come before him, as well as from books and web-based videos, has served him well.
The young entrepreneur continues to think bigger and bigger. He has aspirations to transform Mr. Color into a turnkey operation, selling franchise operations nationally.
“A big part of being a successful entrepreneur is mindset,” he said. “You can talk about it all you want. But you need to push to go get it. That is what matters.”
For more information on Mr. Color, visit mrcolor.info.