Starting a new business is always a daunting prospect, while maintaining steady growth is an entirely different matter with its own set of challenges. Mark and Cindy Cheatwoods’ Shawnee-based small business, MC Trucking, has taken on those obstacles and more. Open since 2006, the business has navigated challenges like the 2008 financial crisis and rising fuel costs. MC Trucking has overcome these challenges and prospered because of the support of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Community Development Corporation, a tribally chartered non-profit providing capital and technical assistance for Native American-owned businesses.
MC Trucking is one of 58 businesses the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation has helped to fund in Pottawatomie County since 2003.
“I had a chance to buy a truck and was looking for a change, career wise, after 18 years at Central Plastics,” said Mark Cheatwood. “I drove a truck when I was younger, so when the opportunity came along to buy one, the next question was ‘How can I finance it?’”
Cheatwood’s niece had secured financial assistance for a new home through the Citizen Potawatomi Nation due to their family’s membership in the tribe. Mark and Cindy thought that given his tribal citizenship, he might be eligible as well. After some initial conversations, Mark and Cindy, who is also his business partner, found themselves seated in the offices of the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation with Assistant Director Cindy Logsdon.
“I had to cash in my 401k from my previous job to pay off our bills, but I still needed financing to purchase the truck,” explained Cheatwood. “I’d have had to go through a bank or figure something else out if it hadn’t been for the CPCDC and Cindy Logsdon.”
With the assistance of CPNCDC, MC Trucking got rolling in 2006. Initially taking on assignments with Wewoka, Okla.’s Falcon Materials, the Cheatwoods eventually took on more customers in and around Pottawatomie County due to the operation’s quality of work. The small business hauls rocks, gravel and dirt from quarries across central Okla. for customers, large and small alike.
Still a one-truck operation, the business has paid off the CPCDC’s initial investment and only owes a small amount on the third of its three trailers.
Looking back on that first big step in Mark leaving a steady job with benefits and a 401k, the Cheatwoods acknowledge the chance they took in striking out on their own.
“I was real leery about getting into it,” said Cheatwood as he motioned to his wife and co-owner Cindy while laughing. “She was even more leery than I was. We stared off slowly, but we kept growing and haven’t looked back since.”