Stephen Van Laeys, 29, did the whole college thing, graduating from Rutgers University with a degree in elementary education. He even handled some substituting teaching. It didn't stick.
"While I was in school, I was working for a landscaper and I found myself liking it more and more," he said. Van Laeys owns Royal Landscape L.L.C., a Gloucester-county based business he began in February 2008.
When Van Laeys graduated from college, he moved back home with his parents. That allowed him to save the money he needed to buy into his employer's business as a partner. "Living at home it saves you big time," he said. He had saved 75 percent of what he needed to buy into the company -- his parents loaned him the rest.
That was April 2007. It didn't take long for Van Laeys to realize the partnership was a mistake. Id didn't end happily -- the two partners split up, with Van Laeys getting some of the equipment.
He sold his car and bought a truck, and voila, by Feb. 2008, he was in business for himself. At first it was just one crew. "In the landscaping business, you don't have to have a lot of money," he said. "You just have to be a go-getter."
Now he has a second truck and a second crew. His business services properties, handles snow blowing and landscaping, and employs five.
He and his fiance live in Deptford. "You just have to wake up and be focused," he said. "The possibilities are endless. There is never going to be a cap on what I can do."