“As a small business owner, there are going to be late nights,” says student Jack Beauparlant. “It's hard at times but it definitely pays off. At the end of the day I know that I've worked hard for it and I've done it all myself.”
Beauparlant runs his own landscaping business called Cuttin' It Close Landscaping. The 19-year-old from West Danville, Vt., is also in his second year of the Landscape Design and Sustainable Horticulture program at Vermont Tech, where he lives on campus during the school year.
Beauparlant started mowing lawns at the age of 12. “Joe's Pond is right near my house. I'd go around and use people's push mowers and mow their lawns,” he said.
Today he provides lawn maintenance, small-scale excavation, and hardscape design and installation. From spring to fall he can found installing house and pool patios and walkways, while also caring for up to 50 lawns. The expense of an employee doesn't make sense at this time, he says, so he does everything from first contact with a customer to final invoicing.
“I do all the estimates and the plans for all the jobs. I'm working with a 3-D program now,” he said. “I can take photos of the property and do a 3-D rendering of the project so they can see what I'm picturing. I have found that it's a great tool.”
Beauparlant has been putting his Vermont Tech coursework to use in his business. “I'm getting a big-picture knowledge of plants. Now I know the plants in the greenhouse, what they will do and what they won't, without doing a bunch of research.”
“My design classes have also been really good,” he added. “My knowledge of plants and my design skills have really improved. Vermont Tech has helped me with my business already.”
Adjunct professor Christine Motyka has been especially helpful as this young entrepreneur goes about running a business and being a student. She taught his herbaceous perennials and maple production classes. “She's an awesome professor. She understands what I do. Anytime I have a question about my business, she drops everything to help me out.”
As you might imagine, landscape work requires some heavy-duty equipment. Cuttin' It Close has a mini excavator, dump truck, and a full fleet of commercial mowers and trailers. “As I earned money, I saved up and bought equipment, and then bought better equipment when I could,” Beauparlant said. “I'm proud to say I don't owe a nickel on any of it.”
Beauparlant likes to attend trade shows and seminars, and he is working to become certified by the Institute for Interlocking Concrete Paving Systems. He's also considering the future, which may include growing more into the commercial market, as well as having a retail location with a greenhouse. “I'm looking forward to my greenhouse management course,” he said. “Even in the last year at Vermont Tech I've changed a bit of how I think I would want to run my business.”
He has advice for others who might want to start a small business like his: “You must be people-friendly, keeping a smile on your face even when you might not feel like it. And you must be honest and do what you said you would do.”
“I love working with people,” he said. “At the end of the day I take a lot of pride in the work that I've done.”