Mark Williams always thought it might be fun and exciting to start a business some day, but had never given it any serious consideration until he needed to find a way to make ends meet while finishing his graduate degree at Washington State University. Needing a job that would allow him the flexibility to continue taking classes, upon the recommendation of a friend he began working with faculty and students on local campuses to help them recycle their used textbooks. Williams saw a need to develop a service where students could easily benefit from buying used textbooks at a significantly reduced price. As a result, he launched the Web site TextbookRecycling.com in the summer of 2003.
Williams had little previous business experience so in 2006 he turned to the Region II Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for help. Under the direction of the SBDC, he worked with the Clearwater Economic Development Association in Lewiston to obtain a small loan to help finance additional inventory. He has also benefitted from workshops offered by the SBDC as well as receiving counsel in the areas of marketing, accounting, and strategic management. Since initial contact with the SBDC, Textbook Recycling has seen a 500% increase in revenue.
Currently, Textbook Recycling employs seven and works with independent contractors who assist in web development and book purchasing. According to Williams, part of what makes the business rewarding and enjoyable is the fun, friendly office atmosphere and the dedication of his employees which leads to excellent customer service and an excellent overall experience for their customers. He is especially proud of the business’s involvement with charitable organizations. The business donates .5% of the cost of every textbook buyback to charitable organizations such as American Forests, Do Something, Feeding America, and Oxfam America. They also donate books to schools and libraries through their Books Overseas program.