MERRILLVILLE | It was three days before Christmas in December 2000 when Bryan Lazorik learned he was being laid off.
He was the office manager at Griffith-based Cowley's Lumber & Wood Products Inc.
"I was laid off and pretty upset about it. It was just cutbacks. That's just the way it was," he said.
Later that night, Lazorik was trying to figure out what he was going to do with his life.
When Lazorik told his roommate he was thinking about starting his own business, he began to fantasize about it and focus on the kind of things he enjoyed, not wanting to "never be laid off again."
Lazorik decided that one of his skills was cleaning, and he eventually decided to try that, deriving the name of his company -- Bryco Services Inc. -- from his own name.
While Lazorik got his fledging commercial janitorial company going, he lived off his savings and unemployment for six months. It wasn't until December 2001 that he got his first client. He said trust is a big factor in cleaning commercial buildings because you go into the building when the client is gone.
Lazorik, 32, of Merrillville, has a thriving business which has grown to an employee base of 12 people. The Crown Point graduate has drummed up business through word of mouth as well as his membership in the St. John and Schererville chambers of commerce where he used to live.
But Lazorik went a step further.
He decided to go to college while he was getting his company off the ground to develop the savvy business skills to make Bryco Services a long-term success.
"I had to figure out what I could do to protect myself down the road. If the company doesn't work, I'd have only myself to blame," he said. "My friends would say to me, 'why are you killing yourself with school? The company is doing well, why do you feel like you need a degree?' I needed to do it for myself."
Lazorik said he's always believed in education and knew that going back to school was the right decision for him.
He graduated from Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, in May with a bachelor's degree in human resources and marketing.
Lazorik also was able to put the concepts he learned in the classroom directly into practice.
"What I learned in school was invaluable," he said. "Most of my classes were human resources and marketing. I learned many very practical concepts in dealing with this economy that I was immediately able to put into practice almost every day of the week."
It was tough few years running a business and going to school but Lazorik doesn't regret a minute of it. Now that he's the boss, he also doesn't have to clean anymore himself and can concentrate on sales and continuing to build the business.