Student's startup plants him on firm ground in paying for tuition

Bill Staniszewski will graduate from Penn State New Kensington without debt. While many college students get help from their parents, he is getting help from Mother Nature.

Staniszewski, a sophomore in the mechanical engineering technology (MET) program, is paying tuition with the profits from his landscaping business. While in high school, he, along with his brothers, Joe and Rick, co-founded Parkview Lawn and Landscapes LLC for the purpose of financing their college educations. The startup business was partially funded through the Entrepreneur Program of the StrongLand Chamber of Commerce.

“My brothers and I started the company to pay for college,” said Staniszewski, a graduate of St. Joseph High School. “StrongLand’s young entrepreneur program really helped us to get off the ground.”

StrongLand, which serves Armstrong and Westmoreland counties, offers the program to 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders who are interested in starting their own business. Thirty-two high schools students have gone through the program in the last four years.

Staniszewski and his brothers participated in the seven-week, 14-hour course that includes instruction on deciding a business direction, writing a business plan and developing marketing materials. His business model was selected for startup funding.

“Strongland provided us not only with money but also with invaluable information about how to run a business and make it successful,” said Staniszewski, a New Kensington resident.

The company, based in Apollo, provides professional landscape and design, and installation services, as well as lawn care services including fertilization, hedge trimming, seasonal cleanup and grass cutting. The brothers, along with their parents, Bill and Margie Staniszewski, run the day-to-day operations. Rick is a freshman at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, and Joe attends St. Joseph. Bill Sr. is a Penn State alumnus. Younger brothers Ben, an eighth-grader at Mary Queen of Apostles and Danny, a home-schooled first-grader, will join the family business in the future. Bill Jr. is the jack-of-all-trades for the company.

“I work in all areas of the company from sales to customer service to the financial and legal aspects,” Staniszewski said. “I also do the actual manual labor which includes building walls, moving mulch and mowing lawns.”

Although there is tuition gold in the green grass provided by Mother Nature, Staniszewski wants to move away from the mowing side of the business and concentrate on mulching and landscape design. He purchased CAD (computer-aided design) software to facilitate the process. The brothers will market their new services at StrongLand’s annual Home Expo, Feb. 8 to 10, at the Pittsburgh Mills mall in Tarentum.

“Our best method of marketing is word of mouth, followed by the StrongLand home show,” Staniszewski said. “We have had a booth in the home show for the past several years. We have also run direct mail ads and go door to door.”

Although Staniszewski runs a business while being a full-time student, he still has time to enjoy the extracurricular activities associated with college life. He is president of the Engineering Club and vice president of the Lion Ambassadors, two student organizations, and a member of the campus’ THON committee. THON is a University-wide dance marathon that raises money for pediatric cancer research.

He was recently honored by being selected as one of four dancers to represent the campus at THON, Feb. 17 to 19, at the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State University Park. The 46-hour, no sitting, no sleeping dance marathon is believed to be the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Last year, THON raised more than $10 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.

“I got involved with THON because I wanted to be involved in a charitable organization that supported both cancer research, and dealing with child loss and illness,” Staniszewski said. “My grandfather died of cancer, and my mother has had several miscarriages.”

Staniszewski will earn his associate degree in May. He plans to continue his MET studies in the bachelor’s program at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College or join Joe at Franciscan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business.

For more Staniszewski’s landscaping business, visit http://www.parkviewlawnandlandscapes.com/.
 

 

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Last Updated February 07, 2013