Cody Nielsen is looking to redefine the notion of outdoor living space, and his ideas and planning abilities found him $5,000 richer as a second-place tie finisher in the 2013 South Venture Business Plan Competition.
"We define an outdoor living space as the area you enjoy your time with family and friends outside on your property," says Nielsen. "This would include your lawn, patio, garden spaces, decks and so on. We refer to it as a living space because it should be a place you like to live when you're not indoors; your favourite plants and trees, deck with barbecue, water feature, a lawn for the kids to play on, etc…."
Nielsen, in his third year of studies in management (finance), has been operating his business, Green Leaf Lawnscapes, while in school.
The SouthVenture opportunity allowed him to refine his business skills and research the possibilities of expansion to larger markets in Lethbridge and beyond. With his wife and business partner Stephanie (BA '11), a recent U of L grad, the pair are balancing jobs, school, a six-month-old baby as well as up to six employees.
"We are entering our third year of operations and have seen steady growth so far," says Nielsen. "We hope to increase our share of the Lethbridge market and potentially look to Calgary to expand. With our growth thus far, the clients we are continuing to work with, and the range of services we offer, we have a sustainable business model to continue to generate profits, provide jobs and contribute to our own community and economy."
Nielsen says his approach is a bit different from other companies, not just in philosophy, but in services.
"What makes us different from other companies in Lethbridge is that we offer many landscaping services (sod, irrigation, patios, fences, etc.), fertilizer and certified weed control service, as well as your conventional maintenance services (mowing, aerating, sprinkler blowouts etc.). This is different because other companies don't offer all three services, including landscaping, fertilizer and weed control, and maintenance. As well, I want people who I work with as clients to see how enlivening your landscape makes it a healthy environment that contributes to the environment as a whole."
Nielsen says that a healthy lawn, well watered and taken care of, provides enough oxygen for a family of four, and fertilizer and weed control programs, properly administered, deliver long term benefits to a lawnscape.
"A lawn absorbs pollution, cools the air outside your home, prevents erosion, and highlights your home. Healthy gardens and trees provide beautiful scenery and again more oxygen, homes for birds and other organisms, while trees also can help block wind (a nice bonus here in Lethbridge). We want to be green by bringing your yard to life."
This story first appeared in the April 2013 edition of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.