An entrepreneur at the age of 20 |

An entrepreneur at the age of 20

Most young men focus their lives on fun while searching for direction.

Josh Erwin, 20, found his career direction early in life and is having fun pursuing it.

“I’ve been dreaming since I was 12 of owning my own business,” Erwin said in the lobby of the Chateau Inn & Suites, his first venture into business ownership.

Erwin, with the help of financial backers and his own years of preparation, purchased the old Torchlight motel near Stateline and is remodeling it.

Now he works 17 to 18 hours a day to make his dream-come-true a good dream.

“I may be young, but I have the ambition. I have the dedication,” he said.

“I do like to enjoy my life, no doubt about it. I love skiing, mountain biking, basketball. I love to travel. Any free time I get when I have money, I love to travel. I feel if I really work at it, after things get settled in six months to a year, I can have fun.

“I do enjoy working. I enjoy playing but I enjoy working because it’s my business and I get to see it grow.”

With his sights set on the future, Erwin began preparing early.

An East Coast transplant, he took business classes in high school and college in New York.

He put savings ahead of spending and built a healthy bank account.

“I’d rather invest it than play with it,” he said. “Investing is playing also.”

A year and a half ago, Erwin headed West.

He began his lodging career at the front desk at Horizon Casino Resort before going to work for Scott McDonald, owner of Chateau Suites.

“At Chateau Suites, I really liked becoming friends with the guests.”

McDonald became a mentor for the young entrepreneur.

“He pretty much taught me everything I know,” Erwin said. “I have great respect for him. You can only learn so much in classes. Hands on, you learn much more.

“I have family and friends that are going to school and struggling through school to do the same thing I’m doing now.”

By the time the Torchlight Motel became available, Erwin was ready.

“The other chateau got me motivated,” Erwin said. “Scott said to use the name.”

As Chateau Inn & Suites, Erwin benefits from the overflow at McDonald’s Chateau Suites.

Erwin also had help from Mark Patel, owner of Tradewinds and Secrets motels, where Erwin had also worked a few times.

“I knew how good he was,” Patel said of his willingness to help Erwin gather together the financing needed to buy the Torchlight. “He’s young and energetic, no doubt about it.”

The Chateau Inn & Suites has 33 rooms, including motel-type rooms plus several suites.

“The California side needs a place that’s economically affordable and offers suites like this,” Erwin said. “We have standard rooms at budget prices. Not everyone wants a suite.”

He’s remodeling room by room, with 10 rooms completed in cherry wood and gold furnishings. Four have spas.

A pool bubbles under the stairwell.

Business has been good, he said. Only a couple rooms remain available for New Year’s.

“I feel what we have is really going to work.” Noting the complements he’s received. “It feels good to me because I’ve made these rooms, Scott and me.”

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