Kent Kolbow has made a name for himself within Sylvan Learning's franchise system. The dedication he has to his students is obvious and his office is peppered with notes, thank yous, and graduation pictures from his former students.
Since 1991, Kolbow has been a tutor with Sylvan. In 1998, he was officially a franchisee. And now, today, he's the owner and operator of 10 Indiana centers with the ambitious goal of owning every center in the state. Over the years, Kolbow has quickly become one of the most decorated franchisees in the entire system.
And despite all of his success as an entrepreneur, Kolbow won't ever stop doing what got him to this point in the first place: tutoring.
Can you tell me a little more about your background?
I was attending Purdue University and transferred to their Fort Wayne campus and that's where I first encountered Sylvan Learning. This was in 1991 when I first started tutoring. Previously, I had always had this dream of working for NASA and I had a friend ask if I coud sub as a tutor for him at Sylvan and it was then, immediately, that I knew this is what I wanted to do. I told my parents that I was going into the education field instead and two years later I was the director of the Fort Wayne location.
I've been tutoring at and owning Sylvan centers for the past 25 years now. I first became an official franchisee in 1998 when I acquired the existing Mishiwaka and Elkhart locations when my boss offered to sell them to me. In 2014, I bought the two centers in Fort Wayne, including the one where it all began for me, and then in 2016 I acquired and revamped the centers in Merrillville, Valparaiso and Schererville. Now, my focus is on my most recent acquisitions, the three centers I am taking over in Indianapolis.
What was it about supplemental education that interested you in pursuing franchise ownership?
I love it. When I first began tutoring, I had some personal experiences of students of mine turning around their grades in math and science and that resonated with me. I thought I could apply my passion as an owner and franchisee. I knew what the needs were and how to get the most out of these programs. And I thought it could benefit the students in the area seeking help with their studies outside of school.
What's next for you and your centers?
It's my goal to own every location in Indiana. I'm at 10 right now, but those are my plans. But I don't have any plans to ever stop tutoring, either.
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