CCC grad creates recipe for success in city she loves


Kerry Kurtz continues to attend Coconino Community College to hone her business skills in Flagstaff. For a video of Kurtz's experience, visit the CCC YouTube page here.


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Kerry Kurtz moved to Flagstaff in the 1980s to attend Northern Arizona University. She received a degree in music education.

She fell in love with Flagstaff, but not the career.

“I wasn’t cut out for it,” Kurtz said, adding that during the summer break after student teaching, she drove a school bus. Not long after that, she took a job with a building contractor.

“It turned out I was really good at it,” Kurtz said. “I had no experience at any of it.”

So, she began working for a general contractor. By 1996, she ended up at the doorstep of Coconino Community College because her boss wanted her to do plumbing work – a prospect she dreaded. She took electrician classes at CCC instead and returned to her boss when she was done.

“I said to him, ‘I want to be your electrician,’ and he said, ‘Fair enough,’” Kurtz said, smiling.

Thus began a completely different career for Kurtz.

“I feel very strongly about the College,” Kurtz said. “I was able to stay and make a living in a place I love.”

Fifteen years later, she got laid off from her job during the recession. She said she remembered getting her CCC course catalog in the mail and saw business courses available and a variety of other services available through the Small Business Development Center attached to the College at the time.

“I lost my job, had a truck full of tools and had no business skills,” she said.

She enrolled at CCC again and began with business classes and seminars and took full advantage of coaching help provided through the SBDC. She started her own business – Affordable Home Repairs, which is now in its fifth year.

“They helped me out right on the job,” Kurtz said of the SBDC staff. “CCC saved my bacon because I knew nothing about running a business. I knew a skill but not how to run a business. They taught me how.”

Affordable Home Repairs deals mainly with home improvement and remodeling. Among her clients is a Home Owners Association in Continental she began with many years before, but instead of working for a boss who held the contract, she holds the contract to provide the service.

She added that she goes back to CCC periodically to take classes that help her as a small-business owner. Most recently, she took a writing class in order to write better business proposals.

“I’m doing better in this town than a lot of my friends with degrees because I got the practical skills that I needed,” Kurtz said.

In addition to her home-repair business, she also has started another business that focuses on a passion she has. It’s called Zippity Doo Dog Agility, and the business helps dogs and their humans get better at the canine sport of agility, where dogs run through a variety of obstacles on a course with the help of a handler. Kurtz has been teaching dog agility for the last nine years, and she said she hopes to open an indoor facility in Flagstaff as she ages out of the other trade she acquired with the help of CCC.

“I owe everything to CCC for giving me the opportunity,” Kurtz said. “I was able to reinvent myself as an adult and not be ridiculed for doing that.”

For a video of Kurtz's experience, visit the CCC YouTube page here.


Wednesday, 3rd August 2016

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  • Wednesday, 3rd August 2016