Kristy Herr

Kristy Herr

Kristy Herr of Baxter had been working in corporate marketing for Frontier Communications when she learned that her parents were thinking of selling their family business, Advanced Cleaning Service in Algood. They had opened the business in 1986 and had grown it into a respected company known for excellence in cleaning carpets, ducts, rugs, tiles and upholstery.

Herr decided she couldn’t let the business go to unfamiliar owners. She asked her parents to sell it to her, even though she had no experience in owning a cleaning company – or any company for that matter.  Now, 20 years later, Herr has helped grow the family business into a thriving operation. She credits Tennessee Tech University’s master’s in business administration program for giving her the skills she needed to succeed.

"Back then, I did not have much of a business background at all and didn't have any experience in it,” Herr said. “The things that I learned in my MBA studies at Tech, I'm still using today.

She was able to take classes close to home and the degree was affordable, Herr said, so it was an easy choice to enroll at Tech to ensure she had the knowledge to run the family business. Herr recalls one professor in particular who also served as her mentor beyond the classroom: past president Bob Bell.

"One of the biggest pieces of advice that he gave me was that you start meeting everybody in the community," Herr recalled. “That has been helpful for me all these years later. The Cookeville area is still a small enough community that if you get a handful of contacts, then they give you more contacts, and that is extremely helpful.”

Since Herr became the chief operating manager at Advanced Cleaning Service and implemented the knowledge that she gained through earning her master’s degree at Tech, her business has gone from about 10 employees to now having 50. It’s greatly expanded not only the scope of services they can offer, but also how much the business can give back to the community. Herr’s business is an adopter of White Plains Academy in Algood and has sponsored events at the YMCA, animal rescues and more.

“It's an overall well-rounded program at Tech,” she said. “You learn about all the different things that you're going to need to run a business, from HR to operations and accounting. That's the one thing I love about running my own business My days are never the same. So, having that background in all types of different small disciplines has been very helpful. I would not have been prepared to do this with just my undergraduate degree."

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