BATON ROUGE, La. - Eric White dropped out of high school with second-grade reading skills and was homeless at 15, but he turned his life around, eventually starting a business transforming back yards into beautiful beaches.
Zydeco Construction, based in Louisiana, is the company he owns today. White creates picturesque "swimming ponds" that have crystal blue water surrounded by sand, delivering a slice of paradise to customers.
But White's personal life wasn't always a paradise.
White dropped out of school when he was in the ninth grade following a devastating divorce that split up his family.
While his mom was struggling to pay the bills, he quit school to start working, saying he left so that he wouldn't end up on the streets with his mom.
"I did what I did because I thought it was right, and I had to do it," said White.
He said that after his mom had a bad stretch struggling with drug addiction, his life continued to fall apart, but not his ambition.
"I ended up skipping from place to place, having nowhere to live, staying under a bridge for weeks at a time, staying at friends' and whoever else would have me," recalled White.
Through all the hardships, White persevered, and while he could barely read or write, construction was something he always understood.
He began framing houses at a local construction company and taught himself a skill. Working hard and learning what he could in the construction industry would be his eventual ticket to success.
White worked various odd jobs doing whatever it took to continue supporting his family, eventually leaving a Ford dealership to work at a local swimming pool company, which would put him on the path to prosperity.
Within six months, he was managing his entire team and eventually received another opportunity to run another pool company, but the dreaming didn't stop there.
He eventually went on to start his first company — a pool business called Cool Pools. White said he was able to start the business with the last $2,000 remaining in his savings account.
With two daughters and a wife, the risk thankfully ended up being worth just over $1 million, which is what he sold his first company for.
Now, his latest venture, Zydeco Construction, continues his dream.
"I wanted to always be able to offer something that was unique," said White, recalling the inspiration for the beach resort-style ponds he builds.
White said the first pond he built was intended for his customers' dogs.
"I said, ‘Look, we're going to do something better. We're going to build a swimming pond,'" White said. He told his customers if it didn't turn out the way they hoped, they would at least still have a place for their dogs to swim.
Fortunately for White and the dogs, his vision worked, and it continues to work to this day. It has done nothing but humble him.
"If you dream about starting a business no matter what it is, do it today," said White. "Anything is possible if you just try."