The November edition of Muscatine’s Startup Grind featured the local, growing business of Hoekstra Masonry. Jake Hoekstra and his wife, Carissa, have worked as a family to build a successful business, but the story begins long before the business opened in 2009.

Jim Elias, the president of the Startup Grind group in Muscatine, asked Hoekstra what his “lemonade stand was.” Jake told a story about how, as a kid, he would pick his neighbor’s zucchini and sell it door-to-door at a lower price than what the neighbor would sell it for. This was his first toe-dip in the pool of entrepreneurship.

This business venture stopped when the neighbor found out, and Hoekstra paid his neighbor back. “She made me clean the zucchini so she could sell it herself.”

Hoekstra then began working for Honts Construction in Muscatine at the age of 16. “Tom Honts taught me a lot. He taught me how to work hard. He taught me the trade and the skill of concrete work,” said Hoekstra. This led the young mason to his next lemonade stand.

Hoekstra began to accept small jobs. “I started doing side jobs on my own.” The first side job was a small concrete job for the very neighbor he pilfered produce from. “It went really good. The profits weren’t great, but I did good work for them.”

This job also taught Hoekstra a valuable lesson. “After I did the job my neighbor, Richard Garrison, who is now passed away, gave me my check and told me that I should take some of this money and save it. Put it towards equipment and making sure I have the money to buy what I need to do the next job.”

Hoekstra admitted that his teenage self didn’t abide by that advice completely, but he did abide by the next piece of wisdom from Garrison. “Always make it legit.” Hoekstra paid close attention to this. “He said to always pay my taxes, and not cut corners.”

These are the foundations of Hoekstra Masonry. Hoekstra has built a mini masonry empire in the Midwest without saddling the business with debt. “No job is too little. A small sidewalk patch could someday be a big driveway. A fireplace could turn into a new wall.”

Hoekstra Masonry is an example of hard work paying off, an example of building lasting success on a properly laid foundation.