Reporting Steve Murphy
ALEXANDER, N.D. (WCCO) — Along with the normal anxieties and excitement of going back to school, one 18-year-old college freshman has something else on his mind — running his successful business.
While many of the freshman class at St. Paul’s McNally Smith College of Music are worried about how to pay for classes, Evan Jensen has a plan in place. It started with a family trip to North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields last spring.
“We knew there was a lot of opportunities and jobs up there, we just wanted to see it for ourselves,” Jensen said. “I was excited. I knew there were a lot of things within our reach.”
After spending a few hours there, Jensen could smell the opportunity.
“As the hours went on, we got smellier and smellier, sweatier and sweatier. We were sleeping in our truck, not a hotel. Then the idea came: ‘Holy cow, what I’d do for a shower out here.’”
That idea grew into making a shower house.
“It was kind of a dumb idea we were juggling around, we weren’t too serious about it right away.”
With thousands of workers camping out daily, the wait to shower can be three hours long. Jensen’s parents were trying to sell some trucks at their farm, so he knew he could get a trailer for cheap.
He earned the money for a down payment on a loan by trapping muskrats.
“We live in South Dakota, there’s tons of those and they bring $10 each. My uncle and grandpa taught me how to do it, and my backyard is full of them. I worked up about $15,000. Since I had that, my parents were like ‘go ahead.’”
Less than a month later, with the help of his family, the shower house was up and running at the oil patch.
The 53-foot trailer has five private shower stalls, complete with a sink, mirrors and a chair to change. A second water tanker from his parent’s farm supplies the shower with clean water.
The average oil worker in the Bakken, makes $90,000 a year. With so few options for showering, most don’t think twice about spending $10 for 30 minutes of water and a clean towel.
“It sounds like we’re robbing the people,” Jensen said. “I feel a little guilty about it, but it’s a competitive price.”
Jensen is now trying to find the harmony between the successful business and pursuing other dreams.
“Who knows, maybe in four years I’ll own 10 trailer houses, renting for $1,500 a month. There’s tons of opportunities, you just have to have the money and ambition to do it.”
Jensen said it’s tough to run the shower house, because it’s tough to manage being 600 miles away from school.
“I’d love for someone to say, ‘This kid’s got a brilliant idea, but I know how to make it better.’ I know there’s people out there like that. If someone wants to buy it from me, I’ll sell it.”
It’s posted on Craigslist for $95,000. So far, there haven’t been any takers.
“People are like ‘Now you want to do music?’ No, I’ve always wanted to do music,” Jensen said. “This enterprising thing came in the last year or two.”
Jensen’s already earned several thousand dollars to pay for his tuition at McNally Smith, where he hopes to major in songwriting.