Every day Michael Paywala walked 30 minutes one-way to the Duluth career center, with each step getting him closer to achieving his goal of creating his own business. He is a familiar face to the career center staff, and he credits much of his entrepreneurial success to the resources provided by the career center, as well as his self-motivation and unwavering character.
At the center, Paywala utilized the computers, Internet, printer and staff assistance. Access to these job search tools reassured him, and convinced him not to give up on his dream. “The career center environment was always encouraging me to achieve my goals,” he says. “I always came here ready to work.”
Paywala wasn’t new to the working world when he started visiting the career center. While holding various customer service jobs he realized his passion was elsewhere. “I applied around to multiple places, but that wasn’t what I knew I wanted to do,” he says. He desired financial stability for himself and his daughter, as well as a future promising opportunities for career advancements.
After transporting his own parents to and from doctor’s appointments, Paywala noticed a specific void in the market for family-based, non-emergency transport services. “I used to drive to New York from Georgia three times a month to take my mom to her doctor’s appointment. And at the time, my dad was walking to his appointments,” he says. “I knew there were other families experiencing similar situations.” That’s when the idea for creating his own business, HKP Non-Emergency Medical Transportation, was created.
HKP, which stands for health, kindness and patience, is named in memory of his father who has since passed away. “My dad’s health is what really gave me the idea to create this business. He was always kind to others, even when working with angry customers at the airport, and always maintained his patience,” Paywala says.
Paywala’s first steps to launching his business were challenging, and at times discouraging. He faced some funding issues and the need for a myriad of medical certifications. Despite the challenges, HKP Non-Emergency Medical Transportation officially launched in January 2017. Nearly 20 clients later, Paywala is now the proud owner of an official transport vehicle and his own successful business.
“Victory is sweetest when you’ve known defeat,” he says. Thinking back to the steps he took to the Duluth career center so many times, Paywala is eager to take the next steps in growing his business. He hopes to hire another driver to assist with his growing accounts, purchase another van and set up a home office where he and his five-year-old daughter can work together. Eager for the next leg of his journey, he has his walking shoes on and is excited for the possibilities.