When he’s not training hard for a triathlon or capturing impressive aerial photos with his drone, Carson Lofton ‘16 is busy assisting with business acquisitions as a Business Development Executive for The Islander Group.
“The main responsibility of my position is to assist in company acquisition – but that can take many many different roles,” says Lofton. “For example, today we had to deliver something we’ve never done before for a company I helped acquire, so I had to secure and transport extra vehicles for the drivers to make the delivery. So my job really could be anything throughout the day, but it really is trying to fix the problem.”
Problem solving, project management, data analytics, navigating new tasks – every day is different for Lofton, and that’s what he finds most challenging and enjoyable about his position.
“I like how my work is different every day,” explains Lofton. “During my college internships I started to realize that I don’t enjoy doing any one thing day in and day out.” That realization pushed him to switch from an economics/finance major to entrepreneurship in his junior year of college.
“For an entrepreneur, their days vary widely – one day they’re sending a contract and the next day they’re in the warehouse making sure everything is getting done,” he explains. “I think that’s really what helped me excel in college – finding the right major. It really came down to what I like to do every single day, and it is to do something different every single day.”
Lofton’s passion for business started in high school, and during his senior year at ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY he founded IPA’s chapter of DECA, an international organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management. He also took on a leadership role at the state level, becoming vice president of Hawai’i State DECA.
“I approached Mr. Teramae (Head of School) about the idea of starting a DECA chapter, and he was very supportive,” shared Lofton. “We had a faculty advisor for DECA who supported us, but was hands-off and let us take control of developing the entire business program. There were five of us who built a business community in our school.”
After graduation, Lofton attended Saint Louis University (SLU), a small private university, where he graduated with a BS in entrepreneurship in May 2020. A small university like SLU would not have been on his radar had it not been for this experience at IPA. “At IPA, I liked how personal the classroom could be and that really expanded my ideas of what colleges I should look at,” he explained. “I would have gone to a large state school, but IPA actually lead me completely away from what I thought I wanted, and I really liked the smaller classes at SLU.”
Lofton’s passion for business flourished at university. “When I was a junior, my roommate and I started a 501(c)(3) organization called ‘Students for Saint Louis’, which was an incubator for other charities,” explained Lofton. “We helped other students who wanted to do things to help the community, but didn’t know how to or didn’t have the resources to. We also worked with them to set up their own 501(c)(3)s, which is not an easy process.”
The duo also started seven other companies during that time. “We would come up with an idea and the first thing we would do is create a really big business plan and then file for the company through articles incorporation,” shares Lofton. “I mean we spent a lot of time doing it but we never felt like it was work because we always thought it was really fun.”
These days, while in acquisition discussions with company heads, the skills he learned from his teachers at IPA are never far from mind. “I learned how to communicate effectively through my AP English and creative writing classes at IPA,” he shares. “I’m 23 and I’m on phone calls with heads of companies and I’m trying to convince them to let us buy their company, why would they trust me if I can’t convey some kind of trust and connection with them,” Lofton asks.
Lofton is looking forward to the end of the pandemic travel restrictions so he can take on his other responsibilities with The Islander Group’s companies in Southeast Asia. “The original plan was for me to be in the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, but obviously COVID threw a big wrench in that,” he said. “Once we get back to it, I should be traveling for most of my job helping our companies there run more efficiently.”
All of these skills and experiences position Lofton well for his future goal of owning his own company. “My field of focus is logistics, and I’d like to join up with partners strong in finance and technology to start a company. I’m not a specialist in supply chain but because I have had other jobs in supply chain, I always paid attention to the logistics of how things move, making things more efficient,” he shares. ”As for what the company would be, that’s difficult to say right now. You think about all different kinds of ideas but until it hits you, until that one idea hits you that you want to really get down on, it’s hard to say what it could be.”