FORGING THE FUTURE: From past to present, graduate works to advance program

FORGING THE FUTURE: From past to present, graduate works to advance program

Jazz is playing on the overhead speakers. Wait staff are taking orders for tall, nonfat, no-whip lattes and coffee makers are busy brewing at Starbucks.

At a table near the back sits Ash Huzenlaub, chairman, president and CEO of Emergisoft Corp., the leading provider of emergency department information systems to hospital emergency rooms across the country.

Huzenlaub can be found here almost every morning checking e-mail, corresponding with business partners and conducting weekly national sales call meetings.

“It’s funny that I come to Starbucks all the time, because I don’t even drink coffee,” Huzenlaub said.

At only 27 years old, Huzenlaub leads 36 employees across five states in a company that, until he came aboard in June of 2002, was desperately struggling. Huzenlaub used his keen managerial skills and recruited a completely new team. Within 18 months, Emergisoft cut costs, rolled out new products and tripled revenues over the previous year.

“I have goals to own my own holding company one day,” Huzenlaub said. “I like the entrepreneurial process involved in witnessing a need, planning how to fill that need, and then actually performing what has been planned.”

Huzenlaub graduated from TCU in December 1998 with a major in finance, marketing and “about as much of entrepreneurial studies as one could back then,” he said. In 1997, he initiated an independent study of entrepreneurship.

After receiving an independent study grant from Apple Computer, Huzenlaub began traveling over 6,000 miles across the United States and England to conduct one-on-one profile interviews of entrepreneurs and financiers. The power list of modern entrepreneurs included Howard Schultz of Starbucks, John Mars of Mars Candy, Ollie Vigors of Longshot Pubs of England and Rory McCarthy of Virgin Group.

David Minor, director of the center for entrepreneurial studies, describes Huzenlaub as “the driving force” behind the creation of the entrepreneurial center at TCU.

“Ash is very driven and continues to succeed in the entrepreneurial world,” Minor said.

As a student, Huzenlaub initiated discussions that led to the creation of the center for entrepreneurial studies, according to the center’s Web site. A committee composing of trustees, faculty and alumni was eventually put together to create the program and then donors came on board. Within five years, the Smith Entrepreneurs Hall was complete, housing the center for entrepreneurial studies.

Today, Huzenlaub continues to serve on the board of advisors for the center and believes that within five years, the entrepreneurial program will be ranked among the top 10 in the nation.

“With continued leadership like the one that this center has now, it could even be in the top five,” Huzenlaub said.

Working in the business field is exciting, but Huzenlaub reminds students that in order to succeed, you must be prepared to work at least 80 hours a week.

Huzenlaub was a distance runner for the track team from 1994 to 1998 and continues running recreationally to de-stress.

“Running helps me think,” Huzenlaub said. “Some of my best ideas come while running … and, so I don’t forget them, I stop in mid-stride to send myself an e-mail via my Blackberry.

“If something great happens with the company, I celebrate with a run. If something not so great happens, I get out and run off the stress.”

When Huzenlaub isn’t running, or working, he speaks to high school and college entrepreneurial programs.

Huzenlaub was a nominee for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2003 and was selected to the Business Press 40 Under 40. He is also working on a second edition of his book, “The World Is My Classroom.” It encourages youth to obtain the real-world business education that is required to be successful and is scheduled to be released in August.

“I want to be able to provide for my family someday … where they will always have everything that they need and won’t have to worry about anything,” Huzenlaub said.