By Debra Levy Martinelli And Anna Trowbridge
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — In his second year in Moore Norman Technology Center’s Entrepreneurship Program in the early 1990s, Neal Do took the first step toward becoming an entreprenuer: writing the business plan for what ultimately would become E-Express, a group of successful convenience stores in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
It was also during his time at MNTC that Do and his family experienced a family tragedy, with the death of Do’s older brother. The loss pushed Do toward achieving high goals and staying focused on his dreams.
Do’s formal business plan for his company today is modeled after the business plan he wrote while in his MNTC Entrepreneurship class, and models the plan he used for a competition through DECA - an international association of marketing students, whose MNTC chapter Do headed for two years. This was also the business plan that he and his older brother planned to use to start their family business together.
MNTC Instructor Nancy Holt said, “The plan Neal developed is the same plan that is the foundation for his success today. He paid attention to every detail and absorbed every piece of knowledge he could get his hands on — he runs his businesses with heart. Today he sits on my class’s advisory board, and he’s one of my most successful graduates.”
Do graduated from Westmoore High School in 1992. After his freshman year at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City, he spent the summer as a manager-in-training with French oil and gas company Total, which was expanding its retail business into Oklahoma. He liked the business so much he decided to stay, working his way up the corporate ladder.
But the entrepreneurial spark never flickered.
“I wanted to start my own company,” Do said. “I saved my money, built up my credit and learned everything I could about how the business works. Working for Total, I learned what it would take to make a business succeed.”
Do started E-Express with a single leased store in Midwest City in 1996. Today, E-Express has 11 locations in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Midwest City, Yukon and Okemah, with plans to continue expansion.
“When I started, I realized that buying and selling the stores generates profit more quickly than operating them,” he explains. “In the early years, I built up the business to create more value. Then I started selling, which gave me the capital to grow into bigger facilities.”
Holt said one aspect of Do’s success is his treatment of employees — as if they are his own family.
“Neal was a kind and generous student with a big heart. He’s always been generous in his words, his time, and gifts and now he's just an extremely generous employer. He treats his employees as if they are the most important people on Earth and in turn, they do the same for his customers.
E-Express also believes in giving back to the communities in which it serves those customers. In Midwest City, for example, E-Express partners with First National Bank of Midwest City to sponsor the annual Relay for Life cancer research fundraising event.
Despite his considerable success, Do has no intention of resting on his laurels. “I’m satisfied with what I’ve built but I still have a lot of work to do,” he declares.
For information about MNTC’s Entrepreneurship class open to high school juniors, seniors and adult students, visit www.mntechnology.com or call 405-364-5763.
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