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Alum flexes entrepreneurial muscle

Trying to hold a job while going to school can be one of the greatest difficulties students face. Few employers are willing to offer a work schedule with the flexibility to meet the demands of attending school, and even if a student is lucky enough to find such a flexible job, rarely does it pay enough to cover one’s daily cost of living.

Scott Bedell, founder of Strong College Students, knows from experience just how big a problem this can be. In his final semester at USF, he got fed up with working for employers who couldn’t meet his needs. By the time Bedell was ready to graduate, he had spent much of the last several years waiting tables and bartending.

In early 2004, while helping a friend move to a new apartment, he noticed professional movers charging an exorbitant amount for basic services. He decided to go into business for himself and, in doing so, never having to ask someone for time off to study.

“I thought, ‘I could easily go in with some of my college friends for half the price,” he said.

Bedell created an online advertisement for people who needed help moving. He described himself as “a strong college student.” The title stuck, and almost four years later, his company, Strong College Students, is still in business.

He said the company’s business platform is based on school loyalty and the idea that customers will want to use a moving company that employs students in need.

“They get young, athletic, clean-cut guys who are eager and well-educated,” he said. “They want to feel like they’ve given back to the community. They’re empowering the students who’ll be your doctors and lawyers.”

He also said he doesn’t want his employees to consider the job to be a career – it should be a job that a student can have while going to school. Afterward, they are expected to move on and find better employment.

Many students on campus said they had never hired professional movers before. Some said they usually move themselves or convince their friends to help by offering pizza and beer.

“I just don’t have that much stuff,” Kyndal O’Neal said. “U-Haul works just fine.”

Bedell said the company has been trying to reach out to students by offering small moves for a cheaper cost. Some students expressed indifference to the idea.

The company is determined to maintain its ties with the University. Bedell and the vice president of Strong College Students, Shaun Robinson, is a member of the USF Alumni Association. They started by helping the athletics department move. Later the company was named the official mover of the USF Alumni Association. Bedell said he was happy with this development and that it felt good for the company to give back to the University.

He said the company offers students small moves for a cheaper cost. The company has been diversifying and expanding, mostly in the commercial- move sector, but Bedell said he still wants to maintain the connection with the University.

“It’s like a condition of loyalty, one thing you see when, 10 years from now, you’ve graduated and moved on, is that there’s only a few bonds left to care about,” he said.

The company has expanded since its inception, moving from basic moving labor to a full-service operation that covers the Southeast. Bedell said corporate moves, which provide a greater income and a lower quantity of moves, have been their new business target.

He has considered going to graduate school to study business, but is not sure how much he stands to learn, as he is running a successful business with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.