Entrepreneur grows passion into business

Zoe Bendoff, Staff Writer

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Junior Jake Fields mows the lawn in front of his house after his landscaping business closed for the season. Fields developed an interest in landscaping at a young age, and his business took off during the summer of 2018. Photo by Carly Uhlig

On weekends from early spring to mid-fall, junior Jake Fields sets out at around 9 a.m. with his lawn mower and landscaping supplies packed in the back of an SUV. He usually returns home around 4 p.m. after tending to the lawns of his five regular clients.

“My granddad always loved [landscaping] his own lawn by himself, and I kind of grew up around that.

“My mom likes to say when I read [Gary Paulsen’s] book, ‘Lawn Boy,’ that’s what really led me to start [landscaping], and I just love doing it,” Fields said.

According to Fields’ mom, Stephanie, she believes “Lawn Boy” helped her son realize the potential he had to grow his skills into a business fostered by his “entrepreneurial spirit.” She said he took the first steps in his pursuit of landscape architecture by working at Interwork, an architectural firm in downtown Northbrook.

“I think this summer with working [at the firm] and then also deciding to start this landscaping business has been sort of a nice way for him to marry both things and start to gain some experience,” Fields’ mom said.

Fields said he conducts his small landscaping business in a more desirable way than larger companies. He emphasizes excellence in communication and offers weekly and biweekly services at lower costs than other local landscaping companies. His services include, but are not limited to, tending to grass and bushes in addition to removing sticks.

“I listen to the client more than [larger companies].

“Before I come out every week, I send a text and make sure we’re still good and everything’s smooth,” said Fields. “I make sure I ask them if there’s anything else that needs to be done, and if they say ‘Yes,’ I’ll come the day before to price it out for them and give an estimate. I like to stay on top of everything … to keep a better relationship with [clients] and keep everything they’re hoping for continuous.”

Adele Gorenstein, one of Fields’ clients, said in a phone interview that although she was happy with her prior landscaper, she was pleasantly surprised by the quality of Fields’ work. She decided to hire him as her full-time landscaper for multiple reasons, including the fact that he would voluntarily take care of unexpected problems.

“[His services were] less expensive, but I also wanted to support him in his endeavor, and he’s a really wonderful young man,” said Gorenstein. “Whatever I ask him to do, he does it with a smile.”

Fields said his landscaping business has helped him develop professional skills in addition to advancing his technical abilities.

According to Gorenstein, Fields takes new requests as opportunities to learn.

“[Fields] didn’t just jump in and start cutting grass and laying stone and chemicals and that kind of stuff,” said Gorenstein. “He really researched what he had to do before he did it, and he did a very nice job going above and beyond.”

Fields said he plans to expand his business to lay a foundation for his future.

“I [want to] go into landscape architecture most definitely after college.

“The goal right now is to reach out and get more clients and expand my equipment scale,” Fields said.

Fields said he has gotten some interesting reactions from people upon finding out about his business. While working on a lawn on Dundee Road, Fields was spotted by one of his teachers who shouted his name out of her car window and asked him about his landscaping in class the following day.

“Most people go, ‘Wow, I wish you could [landscape] for me’ because they think I live [in the houses I landscape for] because I’m so young and I don’t pull up in a huge landscaping truck,” said Fields. “They don’t expect me to say that [landscaping] is what I do, so when they hear that they’ll ask for my phone number or to come look at [potential projects], and then [word of my work] just [travels] around.”

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