Jason Duff Headshot for Small Nation

“ONU people are real, approachable, good at communicating and authentic. Many are leaders in some capacity.”-Jason Duff Ohio Northern Alumni

Jason Duff graduated from Ohio Northern University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science degree in both Entrepreneurship and Business Administration and Management.  These two degrees have served him well on his life journey thus far. 

Duff is the founder of Small Nation, Canby Development, Bellefontaine Ohio Properties, COMSTOR Outdoors and Community Storage & Properties. He is also a member of the Ohio Northern University board of trustees and Opportunity International. 

When Duff left school, he wanted to start his own business. He came up with a few different ideas, but each of them was turned down by the bank when he asked for a loan. So he asked the bank what business they would provide a loan for. They told him that a storage unit was a safe investment. So Duff started his business ventures with Community Storage & Properties. 

His journey eventually led him to start, Small Nation. This business in Bellefontaine, Ohio is focused on refurbishing the downtown area with new fruitful businesses. They partner with people who have ideas for a business, and they make it happen. The slogan for this business is, “Hustle Hard”, however, this has always been Duff’s motto for himself. 

In school, Duff was always busy. He was studying for a double major and was engaged in many electives besides. These included the Dean’s Advisory club, Mortar Board, Omicron Delta Kappa, Leader’s Council, Theta Alpha Phi, University Singers, Men’s Chorus, Northenaires, On Broadway…On the Road and Added Attraction. Duff says that he thrives on being busy and that, “Sometimes you have to sink to swim, but I used that to grow”. 

I have witnessed the truth of this statement in my own experience as a student. Early on in my college experience, when plunged into the depths of homework, exams, work and acquiring a social life, there were many times I found it easier to just swim down. As I grew better accustomed to college life, and the work, I developed strategies to help me swim to the top whenever a huge pile of homework would be dumped on me just as work decided to eat up my time.  This growth is not pleasant, but according to Duff, it is so necessary. 

The best advice Duff has to offer students who face a similar challenge of balancing their schedules and lives is, “Appreciate the frustrations, difficulties and even impossibilities.” Duff advises that students take it all in, and enjoy it. If he could go back, he would spend more time in the Beagle and take more time to become himself. 

An instrumental part of Duff becoming himself was his study-abroad trip to Cuba. This was a “gateway to an old-world place”. The experience helped Duff to broaden his horizons and truly brought his textbooks to life. He describes this as a priceless experience and highly recommends that students take hold of these opportunities and let the experiences truly inform your life. 

Duff is a traveled, educated person who is a founder of six different businesses. Yet he is still humble. After Duff left school, he still missed the atmosphere and people here. So he took advantage of the opportunity to be on the board of Trustees and is an advisor for the college business advisory board. Duff states that this was a huge mentorship opportunity for him as well as a way to get involved with his school again. 

Duff is a thoughtful person who speaks humbly of his achievements and works tirelessly towards his goals. He encourages all of the students to become leaders in their field and continue to, “Hustle Hard”, toward their goals.

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