Founder, GreenWorx Landscaping
Last year, R.J. Duarte was accepted to Colorado State University. He didn’t go.
“College wasn’t for me,” he says. That’s because at the time, his landscaping business was pulling in six figures in annual revenue. “I figured I should stick with this.”
Duarte began cutting grass in Golden, Colo., at age 8. Thanks to his tireless work ethic, his income tripled every year, and in middle school, he partnered with a friend to hit more lawns. In high school, they named the company GreenWorx. When the friend left the business for college, Duarte took the reins, and he spotted a chance for growth.
Duarte dropped GreenWorx’s small clients and rebranded as a premium landscaping-and-maintenance company. “It’s higher margins for more risk,” he says. “That comes with headaches, but without headaches, there’s no reward.”
His instincts were right. GreenWorx now operates with four trucks and a peak-season crew of 12 to 15 people — mostly high school students. “People always ask me, ‘How’s college going, R.J.?’” he says. “That’s the way society is: They want to hear about your degree, not your company.”
But he knows he made the right decision. This year, GreenWorx has revenues creeping toward $750,000. “We’re hardworking, blue-collar people,” Duarte says of himself and his staff. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”