Swinbank Is TAMU Prof for a Day

Sprint Waste Service co-founder Joe Swinbank went back to school this week as a Professor for a Day in Texas A&M University’s Agricultural Economics department. Swinbank spoke Nov. 2 to students in rural entrepreneurship classes, providing insights into his experience as an entrepreneur and private equity investor.

Swinbank advice to students often underscores his strong beliefs in hard work and lifelong learning. “Wisdom comes from experience, and experience from action, so get off the couch and be as active as you can and learn from your mistakes,” he says.

He also encourages the future entrepreneurs not to be afraid to fail. “I’ve learned to fail fast when you learn your company is not going to make it,” he says. “Then I dream up the next deal.”

Swinbank’s involvement with the program at the university goes back to 2008 when he and his wife Shirley made a substantial donation to the Texas A&M Foundation to endow this area of study, creating the Shirley and Joe Swinbank ’74 Rural Entrepreneurship Graduate Teaching Assistantship. He has also endowed the $100,000 Joe Swinbank`74 Endowed Rural Entrepreneurship Seminar Series to support student-interactive events, contributed to the Agriculture and Life Sciences Building and regularly supports Aggie athletics through the 12th Man Foundation.

The Swinbanks initially established the fund to support the rural entrepreneurship program and help provide real-world experience necessary for entrepreneurial Aggies to succeed in their own businesses. Joe graduated from Texas A&M in 1974 with a bachelor of science degree in agricultural economics and has started more than 30 businesses as a private equity investor.

Swinbank serves as a guest professor each year during the fall semester and uses his time with the students to discuss his own experiences as a young entrepreneur. He credits much of his success to hard work and the strong business skills he learned as an Agricultural Economics major at Texas A&M.

Swinbank founded his first business—a fuel distributorship he started with his parents—while still a student at the university and eventually invested his earnings into a new startup he co-founded called Sprint Sand and Gravel. Today the Sprint Companies (of which Sprint Waste Services is the flagship) has holdings along the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast in landfills, transportation, industrial services, tank leasing, mining, and commercial real estate.