Thomas Cordell is plenty busy these days, just a few years after starting his own tutoring business in Montoursville.
Interestingly enough, he didn't know where his plan to launch a business would take him back then.
In fact, he admits he really didn't have much of a plan.
It was after he found himself suddenly without a job that he decided he might become a businessman. He had a hunch that he might make a go of a tutoring business given his background, his contacts, and the direction education was taking.
"Building a business from nothing was freaky," he said. "I questioned whether I could deliver."
Like many people launching a business, he started out solo. Fortunately, Cordell had some things in his favor.
He'd done quite a bit of tutoring as a college student and later at Pennsylvania College of Technology.
In fact, it was at Penn College that the seeds for starting up Excell Tutoring Service really began.
"I came up with a lot of ideas," he recalled.
Slowly, the work got out about Cordell providing tutoring.
And over time, he began spreading the word about what he was doing.
He credited the late Rick Gahr, a longtime local attorney, with advising him and giving him that little extra push to take the tutoring a step further.
"I made very little money at first," he recalled.
He eventually found a site for his business and after a time taking on all the tutoring responsibilities himself, he branched out and hired tutors as subcontractors.
He's happy where the business has come in just a few years.
Many of his clients, he said, are students in grades one through 12 who need help with their school work.
"We see a lot of kids from all surrounding school districts," he said.
Clients are seen both at their homes and at Cordell's business.
"Math is a big thing," he said. "One of three kids want help with math."
The business also helps kids improve upon their success at school or prepare for their SATs. Most recently, Cordell began offering a package that includes SAT preparation, college study skills and test taking success.
And, he's developed a model that helps students with what he calls "test taking anxiety."
Many students, he noted, simply don't do well on tests, despite their abilities.
"It's sad because these kids are bright," he said.
Still other clients include college students and adults who are studying for their GEDs. He said the key to his business success is taking what he does seriously.
"I put a lot of time into picking tutors," he said.
And he feels that's paid off in the good service they provide clients. Plus, he's built up a working relationship with local school districts, he said. His philosophy is not a one size fits all model.
"We mentor, empower and educate," he said. "We will build a custom-built learning plan. We don't turn anyone away."
Interestingly enough, Cordell conceded that he was not the model student in high school. He lacked a lot of motivation, and it wasn't until he reached college that be began to focus more on his studies.
He feels that has helped give him a perspective with many of the clients his company helps.
"Kids come in here without a lot of confidence," he said. "We can instill that in them."
Cordell believes there are a lot of smart kids who seek his help who simply don't hit the books as they should, often times because they are so busy with many other activities.
At school, they attend classes taught by teachers who only have so much time to spend with them.
He believes no one client's needs are any more important than anyone else's.
After all, everyone needs to learn and develop skills needed to eventually enter the job market.
Overall, he said he probably spends about 75 percent of his time tending to the business side of things.
"I still want to tutor, but obviously I'm so busy with other things," he said.
He said he'd eventually like to grow the business some more, perhaps make Excell Tutoring Service the one tutoring offering in the region clients turn to for their needs.