View Full Version : college

01-29-2003, 11:24 AM
hey everyone, im a senior in high school, i am thinking about going to ferris state michigan, or michigan state U. ferris has a ornamental horticulture program that sounds alright, it's a two year, then i was thinking of mabey going on for another two years in design or something, what i hope to eventualy do is open a commercial landscape company, not just mow lawns, but put in things like ponds, and things like that. if anyone had any advise on classes that would help, i would highly appreciate it. thanks :cool:

01-29-2003, 11:31 AM
I am currently a business major at Miami University (in OH). My take on the whole college is this: Anyone with enough experience can pick up on the technical instalation and maintenace aspect, but not everyone can run the business end successfully. Take my dad for example. He majored in fine arts and specialized in photography in college. When he finally decided to start his own photography studio, he emensley strugled with the "business" segment of the business.

My advice is to learn the business end of the business, and then learn what you need from experience, or hire someone who has it. Good luck.

mdb landscaping
01-29-2003, 04:02 PM
to an extent mac lawn is correct, but there are also many programs that take this into account. im a turf major at UConn, and its a two year associate degree. when you are done, you can go on for a four year degree. our school makes you take some business background classes so you get an aspect of everything int he business. i am currently taking an agribusiness management class, and i love it. they teach you about taxes, budgets, costs etc... just go into a degree that you feel you will like doing. most will list out what required classes you must take, and then you get to pick the rest of classes you want in that area. have fun.

01-29-2003, 06:17 PM
Originally posted by MacLawnCo
.....My advice is to learn the business end of the business, and then learn what you need from experience, or hire someone who has it. Good luck....

If you go that route in landscape contracting biz of todays world, you will go broke real fast, nothing eats up profits faster than learning from experience (in this trade) my two cents. With Regards... devildog

01-30-2003, 11:09 AM
Where in Illinois are you?? Cause my uncle is a professor of Horticulture at the University of Illinois in Champaign. Im going to be going to a 2yr school to get a degree in landscape Hort. If your interested in the field of landscaping yeah get some kind of education but also work for someone or start a biz on your own up if you can or if you already do.
Good Luck, and do alot of searchin on this site, its a great site:cool:

01-30-2003, 12:46 PM
Well I have a brother that wants to help me in the business aspect of it, would that work if he were to go for a 2 year degree in general business? Then I could do the landscaping part of it and he could do the business part. I could teach him a little bout landscaping and him teach me some business

T. Matthews
02-01-2003, 10:50 AM
Hey there,

From my experiece go to school and get the education,but also start a small mowing business or go work for someone who is already doing it. I started my Co before I went to school for a Hort degree. If you do you 'll have a leg up on the competiton. I notice alot of LCO in my area just don't have the education and it shows in their work.

T. Matthews

02-01-2003, 02:33 PM
I would have to disagree with T. When you are in school, concentrate on school. If you try to take a full course and run a business at home at the same time SOMETHING is going to slip. I know from first hand experience :(

02-03-2003, 12:15 AM
Ive been disagreeing and agreeing the entire page. I am currently a Junior at the University of Tennessee at Martin majoring in turfgrass/golf course mgmt. I think more turf/landscaping classes vs. business classes. You can always hire a secretary for minimum wage work the computers while you are overseeing that the work is actually getting done instead of staying in the office hoping that your crew gets the work done. When I get out, I think I will be one of the only people in my area with an education who owns a business, nothing against people who dont, but, you meet a lot of people and get a chance to think how you want to run your business. If I went full blown my first year, I would have failed. This way, it lets me ease into it and know how I want to do things when I get out. Now granted, I am getting ready to skip a few classes to stretch my weekend out so I can cut 30-35 yards and do a few big installs, also, my internship this summer will broaden my perspective as well. My advise to someone going to school, dont spend your college fund on equipment!

02-03-2003, 12:29 AM
I have to respectfully disagree with UTM-PIKE,

I think that acording to his adivce, you can only get so large. After a point, you will have too much work, and you will want to remove yourself from the grunt work. When that time comes, i want to know exactly what is being done by my "secretary", and be able to run my own accounting and other "business" procedures on a regular basis.

I think that to fully realize what you should study, you need to examine how large you would like to grow. If you only want to grow your business to say $300K gross, then i think the agricultural knowlege will be more of an asset to you. On the other hand, if oyu want to have multiple locations throughout numerous states, the business knowledge will be of much more value to you. I hope you realize where i am coming from, because i sure know which way i am going.;)

02-03-2003, 01:00 AM
I didnt mean that one should not have any business classes at all, but not as many as the field that you are in. There is only soooo much business info you need to sucessfully run a company without proffessional help, CPA's etc. But if you want to start a landscaping company, dont go to college majoring in business and expect to be an expert in diagnosing a plant problem or propagating plants by cloning!!!!!
As far as grunt work is concerned, I have always hated it when the employer sits in the air conditioned truck or plays golf while we are sweating our butts off in the heat. No matter how old I will be, I will always make a point to get in the dirt and let my employees know that I care about them enough to get in there and get dirty on a regular basis (maybe not everyday) instead of standing over them telling them they missed a spot!
So..... my advise to anyone thinking about college. Enjoy yourself, its the best four years of your life! Dont take too many courses that you hate it. Well, you will hate it at times (my organic chemistry class sucks!) but take classes you like with a mixture of the ones that are tough, but are benificial to your career. How about this? Majoring in Turf/Landscaping, Minoring in Business! That was the intial point MacLawn. Oh, and by the way, is that you in that picture??? Maybe you should be a proffessor.

02-03-2003, 07:22 AM
DITTO ....!

02-03-2003, 07:57 AM
Some choose landscaping as a mechanism for having a business. Some have a business as a mechanism for doing landscaping.

If you are a person that wants to grow a big business out of landscaping, you need to be business educated, know enough about landscaping to manage or delegate the work, but most importantly you have to have people management skills. Not anyone can learn people management and this is the most limiting factor in growing a landscape business. You can buy all kinds of equipment, line up all kinds of help, but if YOU can not manage them you can not grow. If you think you can delegate this skill out, you have to realize that you still have to manage the managers.
How many skilled managers are going to work for someone else when they can run their own business. That skill can easily be suplemented by a couple of business classes and the experience that they have working for you or another landscaper. Which brings it all back to you having to be a good people manager to be a big landscaper.

If you want to be a good landscaper and not a big business, it is a good idea to have some business classes. But, the most important thing to a small landscaper is that he keeps quality high. If you can only manage so many people, you have to make your money by being able to charge the most for your work as you can. People have to look at your work and recognize that it is worth more than the next guys. That situation calls for more horticulture, design, and practical experience than the big business situation.

You have to recognize whether you have a commanding personality to do the big business or not. You will never be big without that natural ability that can not be taught, although it can be improved. Don't fool yourself.

02-04-2003, 12:51 AM
Thanks Agla,

that is pretty much what i was trying to say in my second post.

Maybe we could get JAA's perspective on this? We will wait and see.

John Allin
02-04-2003, 08:54 AM
I find this thread really quite interesting. It's interesting to see the "young person's" viewpoint (looking forward as compared to looking back over the years).

I knew nothing of horticulture and very little about snowplowing when I entered self employment in this industry back in 1978. I was 25 and out of college about 3 years. While in college I started (and failed at) two separate business ventures (not in the landscape/snowplow industry). My failures were due to lack of adequate business knowledge. So I studied business and asked alot of questions of successful business owners.

Number one - if you think you can get a good secretary for minimum wage, think again. And, secretaries are not business managers. From my past experience, and from current practices - having loads of horticultural experience and no business acumen will surely limit your growth. If you want to "be outside" in the elements digging in the dirt with no real plan for financial security - a degree in horticulture with no business classes will allow you to get by. However, if I had to bet on someone - I'd bet heavily on the business trained individual and just marginally on the strict horticulturalist when it comes to financial security in the business environment.

By the way.... my personal Administrative Assistant makes almost $35k a year..... the really good ones don't come cheap.

Now.... if you are bent on entering this industry as an owner who wants to become financially secure, and you're still in college - stock up on accounting, management and communications courses and take a few hort classes (the actual degree means nothing if you really are going to be the owner of the business). Then, hire a hort specialist and manage the business. VERY few business's succeed if run by individuals who cannot read (and understand) a financial statement. Successful Owners "manage" - they don't dig holes all the time. Mind you.....they need to know HOW to dig the hole, but after awhile 'managing' becomes the focus, through necessity.

By the way.... be aware that "college" does little to prepare you for the business world (I know - been there, done that). However, completing college teaches one how to complete a task that is laid in front of you - and forces you to become goal oriented. What I actually "learned" in college has done very little to make my business a success. College DID teach me how to function on my own, how to set and achieve goals, how not to depend upon my parents for everything, and how to successfully interact with others.

If you should elect to be a dirt person who intends to hire managers to run the business - you'll surely struggle (I won't say it can't be done, I'm just saying that it is the more difficult road).

I think AGLA is closest to the mark in his assessment of the overall situation when deciding how to proceed. I elected landscaping as a mechanism for being in business. And, for some of the obvious reasons (easy entry, low initial capital investment) as well as for some reasons not easily seen (I did some extensive local research and found that no-one [at the time] was running a landscape business with a business related college education, and most of the 'locals' were not running their landscape business's as a "business" which I believed gave me a distinct advantage - which has proven to be an astute evaluation, in my opinion).

Since I elected landscaping as a mechanism for being in business, I then learned about horticulture issues 'on the go' and 'in the field'. Owners usually make for quick studies in such instances. However, I hired in the expertise I required to be horticulturally sound in the advice we gave customers.

To this day, I strongly believe in hiring-in others who are smarter than I in their chosen field (a CPA as our CFO, a Certified Horticulturalist, business management degreed managers, computer trained IT people to do MIS work, etc.). In fact, our Landscape Operations Manager was hired for his managerial ability and NOT for landscape background (he came from 22 years in manufacturing). In his case, this decision has proven to be one of my better ones over the years. I have also found that hiring in horticulturally savy people and placing them into positions of management based soley on their years in the industry has repeatedly proven to be a mistake. Luckily, I learn from those mistakes.

Now.... on a different note - if I was HIRING someone directly out of college (and we do that regularly) - I'd lean towards the horticulturally trained individual, and then I'd teach them about business. This might seem backwards from the first paragraphs in my post, however "hiring in" is much different than "being owner - starting out".

John Allin
02-04-2003, 09:05 AM
One other thing..... THE best class I EVER took - and the one that has surely benefited me the most over the years.... is my High School Senior Year Typing Class...... my mother forced me to take that class - and I thank her for it often.

Next would be English Composition.

I have YET to see a successful business person that cannot compose a letter properly, or speak intelligently.....

02-04-2003, 09:06 AM
I agree with John. I did all my research of college degrees from business leaders. Everyone had the same advice. Get all the accounting you can. So, I decided to get the degree in accounting. With that I took lots of financial, mgmt, and marketing classes. It has paid off. I see no reason it will not continue to pay off for years to come.

02-04-2003, 09:55 PM
I agree that the most beneficial class in high school was that typing class that my Dad forced me to take for TWO years! Although I knew that I didn't want to be a secretary, I did it. The immediate payoff was being able to do my own papers in college. In business, it's a constantly used skill. Also, English Comp. with the emphasis on logical development of ideas and persuasion has helped on many occasions. In general, college professors are more likely to encourage 'outside-of-the- box' thinking which is very helpful for entreprenuers.