Andy Kautz taught elementary school after graduating from Montana State University Billings. Like many teachers, in 2005 he began working on the side to bring in extra money. But as the years progressed, the landscaping business he started began occupying more of his time.
“Pretty soon I had to make a choice, and I decided to go with landscaping,” he said.
After running A&E Curbing and Landscaping for a seven years, an opportunity to expand came Kautz’s way. In 2012, the long-established local business, Sylvan Nursery and Landscaping, came up for sale.
“I was there looking at a vehicle they had for sale,” Kautz said. “I started chit-chatting with the previous owners, and about 20 days later, we were signing the papers.”
Kautz continues to operate both A&E and Sylvan Nursery’s landscaping businesses. But the two businesses may eventually merge to simplify bookkeeping and reduce confusion for customers, he said.
Running a nursery, greenhouse and landscaping business requires careful planning. Sylvan Nursery has already begun planting in anticipation of the spring gardening season, which hits its peak around Mother’s Day. Typically, he orders Christmas trees in July.
“We used to have a down time, but that has disappeared,” Kautz said. One advantage of owning the greenhouse is that it provides opportunities for diversification.
“We want to adapt and have a few gift items for sale, and we just started selling cut flowers out of a cooler,” Kautz said. “We don’t want to be just a seasonal business.”
Describe how you got where you are in your work today: Lots of hard work, help and support from family and friends.
What’s the toughest challenge that you have faced in your business? Trying to balance work and family.
What did you learn from that challenge? Still working on that.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Shoot for the stars, but set goals to get there. Expect delays and bumps along the way.
Who gave you that advice? It’s something that I’ve personally learned along the way.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Establish more green space, parks, and conserve water.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? The smiles on the face of customers.
Which living person do you most admire? The person who is out there working 60 hours a week to support their family.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My wife and children.
I’m happiest when I’m… able to take off and spend a week at Disneyland with my family.