Brian DuMont ’98 was sitting in a class during spring semester in 1997 when his mind drifted to what he would do for work that upcoming summer. He was dissatisfied with past summer gigs with unappreciative bosses, so he turned to one of his friends to brainstorm. That’s when his friend gave him an idea not just for that summer’s work, but one that was the basis for DuMont’s thriving business today.
“He said, ‘Forget about working for someone else,'” DuMont says. “‘Grab a mower and cut some yards.”
That’s exactly what DuMont did 15 years ago. He and a couple of his fraternity brothers spent that summer posting signs and depending on word of mouth to attract work. Fifteen years later, Dumont, 36, is still in the lawncare game as the owner and CEO of Yard-Nique, a Morrisville, N.C.,-based company that does commercial and residential landscaping maintenance and installations.
The company has grown to 225 employees with locations across the state. It is the official landscaper of the Carolina Hurricanes, and DuMont was recently named as one of the Triangle’s top executives in Triangle Business Journal‘s annual “40 Under 40” list.
DuMont, who came from Lawrenceville, N.J., to NC State because of its horticulture program, says he always knew he wanted to run a lawncare business.
“As early as I can remember, I loved working out in the yard with my dad,” he says. “My dad would get a truckload of mulch, and we would go lay it. We’d go to a nursery and pick out plants. I don’t think I ever changed my mind about what I wanted to do.”
Even though DuMont had the love of working outdoors, he had to gain his business acumen through on-the-job training. He says there were no business classes for him to take in his horticulture major, so his operation simply started out of his kitchen in his house he had near downtown Raleigh. He says the key to going from that small model to a company that continues to grow despite a poor economy is hiring good people he can trust, many of whom are Wolfpackers.
“That’s probably the hardest thing for small business owners is letting go,” he says. “I pulled a lot from State. I’ve had a lot of great interns from State. I think the biggest thing is to realize you can’t do it on your own.”