Thursday, April 29, 2010

Part serendipity, part love of the outdoors, leads to a business for Brant
By Sheryl Popp

The Brant in question is Brant Anderson, and his business is aptly named Brant’s Lawn Care. Brant’s a young guy, but he’s put together a business he loves and is in the process of widening his expertise in that business.

Brant’s family moved to West Bend from Michigan when he was very young, according to his mother, Becky, because of her husband’s business. Brant’s father serviced accounts in Wisconsin. “We picked West Bend because it was centrally located,” Becky added, “and we liked the town.” Becky sometimes helps Brant when he’s swamped. She’s even been known to pull weeds for free! Becky thought it was funny when I asked if she was ever thought she’d be paid.
Getting the biz off the “ground”
“When I was in high school,” said Brant. “I wanted to be a police officer. But for side jobs, I mowed lawns in the summer and shoveled snow in the winter.” He’s actually been shoveling snow since he was two years old,” laughed Becky, “and even at two, he was helpful.” She also recalled he always loved to watch snowplows out the window, and loved lawn tractors. So it was a natural progression for him to begin working for friends and neighbors. “I always enjoyed working outside,” said Brant. “Then when I was 15, I worked for a landscaper during the summer.” His duties? “I developed a close relationship with weeds, moving pavers and spreading mulch,” he joked. On his own, he kept getting more mowing and shoveling clients. When his landscape employer gave him eight snowplowing accounts, Brant bought a truck with a plow. That was in 2007. “Then I decided I needed insurance and that I had better incorporate,” he said. The first winter he was in business, Brant had 12 accounts.
In 2008, Brant decided to enroll at Blackhawk Technical School in Janesville. His degree will award him green industry technician status. He graduates this month. Brant concluded that although he did not start his youthful side business with the idea of making it a career, he was nonetheless good at it. It was also compatible with his love of the outdoors. All he had to do was widen his knowledge of the industry to better meet customer needs, and make the work both more challenging and more rewarding. For example, courses on prairie and woodland plants are part of his curriculum. He also found the networking opportunities at Blackhawk extremely valuable.
These days, there’s a lot less lawn mowing. “I’ve been doing more landscape work,” said Brant, “and I’m a Department of Agriculture certified pesticide applicator.” Brant has enjoyed learning how to design spaces planted with mixtures of plants and shrubs, both through school and on the job experience. He credits Johnson’s Nursery in Menomonee Falls with being a great resource for him, both purchasing product and as an informational resource. “A lot of my accounts are maintenance accounts,” said Brant. “By that I mean just keeping up their lawns and gardens, and some of those are year round accounts too.” His business has grown enough to require several employees, some seasonal and some year round. “With additional staff, I’ll be able to take on a greater variety of jobs,” said Brant. Here’s someone who actually enjoys the maintenance end of his business as much as the creative end, although he doesn’t get to jockey lawn tractors that much any more.
Brant says his career choice has been interesting, and he’s satisfied with the direction his life is taking. “I’ve had some greater experiences I think, than a lot of people do at 18 or 19 years old. I know customer satisfaction is so very important, because there is a lot of word of mouth in this business. It’s great to make people happy with your work, and satisfying to see the end result. “It was hard to grow the business last year,” he added, “with the economy tanking, but it’s looking better this year.”
If you’d like some help with a new project, or if you could use someone to do regular maintenance in your yard, it’s a good idea to have Brant over for quote. He’s got a great attitude, a love of working outside, and is very competitively priced.
Services include those already mentioned, plus seeding, mulch instillation, fertilization, salting in winter and more. Call 262-323-1134 for more information.

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