From the moment I began reading, “Who Owns the Ice House?” by Clifton Taulbert, I knew that I was reading a “different kind of book.” This book is an autobiographical / self-help / entrepreneurship hybrid. It’s a page turner and it educates current and potential entrepreneurs on what it truly means to be an entrepreneur while telling the story of Clifton Taulbert and his mentor Cleve “the ice man.”
The story is told from the perspective of Clifton Taulbert who grew up in segregated Mississippi. In Clifton’s hometown nearly every African American man and boy worked in the cotton fields. They would work all day and all night doing back-breaking work just to maintain an existence that was far below the poverty line. However, in this town there was one entrepreneurial African American by the name of Cleve. Cleve grew up poor just like everybody else, but he chose to use his hard-earned money to buy the local “ice house” when he heard it was for sale.
He invested every penny he had to buy this “ice house.” This “ice house” was the only way that most of the people living during this time had to cool their foods amidst the steamy Mississippi heat. Every day Cleve would cut 15 and 20 pound blocks of ice up. He would then deliver them throughout the African American and white communities. Because he was the only man in the community who owned and “ice house” he had a monopoly, however he was not content to settle there. As Cleve’s business expanded he eventually hired on young Clifton Taulbert to work as his assistant. During their journeys Cleve taught Clifton about entrepreneurship, tenacity, focus, diligence and host of other valuable lesson. This book takes the reader with Clifton to the military where he honorably served, to the startup phase of the popular StairMaster product, to the dish-washing room of Clifton’s first job in St. Louis and to the local bank where Clifton earned his first non-manual labor job.
As an entrepreneur myself, I found this book to be inspiring, practical, interesting and timeless. Anyone who is serious about going from where they are to where they want to be using the vehicle of entrepreneurship should read this book!
Marketing Director of Fears & Clark Tulsa Commercial Realty Group
Serial Entrepreneur and Business Coach
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