The first summer Brent Park started his business in 2014, Liquid Amber Landscape Management, he lost 35 pounds while pushing a mower over his commercial client’s properties.
Since then, he’s transformed his one-man operation into a thriving business with up to 12 employees seasonally.
“I was too afraid to buy the equipment,” recalled Park. “Then you realize, well, I could do more with my time if I could do it quicker, right?”
He never anticipated owning a landscaping business, but between the four years of studying his psychology degree at the University of Calgary, Park found himself working with friends at a tree nursery. After he finished school, he bought a 500-square foot condo, fixed it, flipped it and made a decent profit. He realized he liked business more than returning to school to complete his masters.
He spent the next decade gaining experience in the commercial tree industry in Alberta and Vancouver, moving back to Airdrie for sunnier skies and a management position at Blue Grass Nursery in Balzac. He was soon offered a management role with a local landscape maintenance company where he secured $1M in business in his first year.
“I thought, ‘Well, this is pretty easy,’” said Park. “‘Why not try it myself?’”
He opened Liquid Amber Landscape Management in 2014 and soon was awarded a contract for snow removal for the City of Airdrie.
In 2015, Park joined the SMARTstart program, where he met his mentor and now longtime friend, Kerry Oswald (former owner of Smart Auto & Tirecraft).
“It was nice to have the support system where if I had a question or concern…I could bounce ideas off of him,” said Park.
Oswald’s guidance shifted Park from an owner-operator to a business owner.
“You have to trust people to get the job done,” said Oswald. “So you can focus on more business development and not be so focused on being on a piece of equipment for hours a day.”
Park recognizes the value of participating in SMARTstart.
“Being around others that are…dealing with the same challenges, so you can bounce ideas off, you feel like you’re part of a group instead of being a lone wolf,” said Park.
Almost a decade in, Park has six trucks, three plow trucks, four ride-on mowers and a lot of other equipment for his six to 12 seasonal staff to operate.
“Sometimes I look back and think, I don’t know how I came so far and in less than ten years,” said Park.
Story and photography by Britton Ledingham.