Cole Weller, Weller Brothers Landscaping
Cole Weller was working for a lawn company in high school. "My dad said to me, 'Why don't we buy a mower, pickup truck and aluminum trailer, and go cut grass for ourselves?' So that's what we did," Cole recalls.
That was 2001. Cole was 16. Younger brother Brent was 15. They were the proud owners of Weller Brothers Landscaping in Worthing, South Dakota.
A couple of years later, Cole ventured off to college to pursue a degree in landscape management. Brent later enrolled in college himself. "Our parents helped us keep up with mowing while we were away at school," Cole says. Come mid-spring, the brothers returned to their company which was continuing to grow organically. Recognizing the potential to grow even more, Cole and Brent decided to leave college so they could focus 100% on their business.
"We figured we could expand on what we were already doing and turn this company into something really special," says Cole, who ended up enrolling in a landscape design program at a local technical college. That knowledge helped Weller Brothers Landscaping expand from just mowing and maintenance into design/build. The company now employs roughly 50 during the peak season.
Cole serves as president and oversees sales and finance. Brent is vice president and oversees operations. They settled into those two distinct roles over the past couple of years. "There are so many things going on in a growing company like ours," Cole says. "There comes a juncture where you have to decide who is going to take care of what so you can efficiently manage what can become a beast."
Involvement with the NALP has helped the Weller brothers figure out how to gain some control over that beast. "We knew there had to be a better way than the constant trial and error we were experiencing," Cole says. "I knew about NALP because I was a student member when I was in college."
So they joined, and immediately registered for the GIE+EXPO and LANDSCAPES educational conference. "What a wealth of knowledge we found there," Cole says. "I remember saying to Brent on the way home, 'We have a lot of work to do.'"
The brothers eagerly got to work, implementing many of the things they'd learned through seminars and talking to other NALP members. "When you look around at the other companies attending NALP events, some are smaller than us, and some are much larger," Cole says. "You can all learn from each other. You don't always have to reinvent the wheel. But you have to get involved in order to benefit from this kind of knowledge sharing."
One company Cole has learned from is Mariani Landscape in Lake Bluff, Illinois. He visited Mariani as part of NALP's Trailblazer program. Cole continues to stay in touch with contacts he'd made at the company to seek advice and insights.
Likewise, Cole continues to attend GIE+EXPO and LANDSCAPES, as well as the Leader's Forum. He also looks to NALP to help educate and motivate employees. He often brings team members to GIE+EXPO. Last year he sent an employee to an account manager workshop in Atlanta. "We really like the online webinars," Cole adds. They are great for training—especially during the off-season."