Alumna Stacy Isermann finds her entrepreneurial spirit
Isermann, who earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice from UMSL in 1999, has been busy growing the young company, which aims to help the environment and the wallets of her clientele by presenting industrial-grade plastic boxes as an alternative to cardboard moving boxes.
“Once people use our service, they see how fantastic it is,” said Isermann. “There are no boxes to build, no tape needed and the boxes easily stack to the roof of the truck. For no extra charge, we deliver the boxes to their home or office, provide a four-wheel floor dolly, zip-ties and labels. After the move or remodel, we also pick up all the boxes. We make it easy on the consumer and environment.”
She and her husband, Todd, came up with the idea for STL Rent A Box, now in its fifth year, when she noted how many dumpsters she had seen overflowing with busted cardboard boxes after a move-in or move-out.
Cardboard can take months to decompose and possibly have a negative impact on the surrounding environment. Seeing this, she realized the solution to this problem could become a lucrative, niche business.
Although it may be surprising that Isermann holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology rather than business administration, she credits UMSL’s rigorous coursework for helping her develop the mental flexibility and keen insight she relies on today.
“When I first started seeking an education, I had a whole different idea of what I would do when I graduated, but I realized a bachelor’s degree and a title can’t fully define who you are and what you do,” Isermann said. “It’s all the education that came with it that makes the difference.”
Isermann’s openness to learning new roles has allowed her to nurture a diverse range of talents. As STL Rent A Box is staffed by Isermann, her husband and a handful of warehouse workers, she has to wear many hats.
The love of reading and writing she learned in Nancy Gleason’s literature courses has come in handy as she manages all the blogging, social media and marketing duties for her business.
“Writing all those papers, attending small group discussions and sharing presentations –all of that really prepped me for now, and I really didn’t know it,” Isermann said. “You’re just immersing yourself in education to get those grades and trying to graduate and become the greatest at whatever it is you want to do.”
Besides the time spent in classes, she also looks back on her work as an administrative assistant at UMSL’s Center for Trauma Recovery as integral in shaping her direction. There she learned the importance of research and how to relate to people from all walks of life.
This focus on soft skills has translated into solid results for STL Rent A Box. The company has grown 65 percent each year since 2012 and has acquired contracts with several moving companies in the area and businesses including Stifel, Magellan Health and Washington University in St. Louis.
Oftentimes, success comes with its fair share of challenges, and Isermann admits that maintaining work-life balance can be difficult. In an effort to be accessible to clients, Isermann has found herself answering emails at the dinner table and at soccer games.
“It’s really hard in this day and age to stop your workday and not have your phone sitting on your lap all the time,” Isermann said. “But we want to keep the big picture in mind, so we make sure to get out and enjoy nature.”
When they’re not running their eco-friendly company, the Isermanns hike through the parks and greenery they’re doing their part to protect. While they enjoy taking long trips to places like Yellowstone National Park, the Isermanns can have just as much fun camping in Missouri and finding time to reflect.
As she moves forward in her professional and family life, Isermann would advise anyone who’s searching for the next step after college to consider working for themselves.
“It’s good to get outside of the box, go outside of your comfort zone,” she said. “It’s very empowering being your own boss and making your own rules.”
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