Steve Hopper started in the green industry at the end of the 2004 season with a Spring-Green franchise in Cumberland County, North Carolina. Starting from scratch as a franchise owner gave the father of two daughters a unique perspective on the opportunities and assistance Spring-Green offers its franchise owners.
Raised on a farm in eastern North Carolina, Hopper spent some of his 20s in that line of work, before pursuing a career in sales. But neither career felt exactly right. “My dad raised me with the idea that it doesn’t matter how much money you make, if you are working for another man you’re a failure,” Hopper said. He always knew he wanted to do something other than farming or sales, but he wasn’t sure what that would be.
When Hopper researched Spring-Green, the business fell in line with his background. His intention was to create a financially secure business that would provide him autonomy while supporting his family. Ultimately, when the time came, he intended to sell the franchise. Then his oldest daughter, Megan, began to pitch in doing clerical work to earn extra money while in college at UNC-Pembroke. “She was a chemistry major in college. One day I was at a seminar, and the guy speaking, who was really sharp and interesting, was talking about the makeup and chemistry of the pesticides we use — the kind of stuff she had been telling me about,” he recalled. It clicked at that moment for Hopper that his daughter should join the family business.
In January 2014, Megan came to work for the business full-time. Having her on-board has been beneficial to Hopper, just as Spring-Green’s assistance was invaluable in terms of marketing and support when he started his franchise. “That is what they are there for – to help you get started,” he said. “They were very valuable in helping me know what to do on the agronomics side.” Hopper recalled that before the internet was so widespread, he had a computer issue that he and Spring-Green couldn’t resolve over the phone. “They put my support rep on a plane, and he came down and fixed the problem. That’s one of my favorite stories about how helpful Spring-Green was when I was starting out.”
In the almost 13 years Hopper has had his Spring-Green franchise, his territory has grown and expanded into four more counties. In late 2014, he signed on for his latest expansion into the Southern Pines area. “When I started, I figured I would be a one man and a truck operation,” he explained. But due to a good territory and some hard work, he has grown to five trucks. “I didn’t plan to grow the way I did, but the business has fed the growth as it went.” Hopper doesn’t rule out further expansion. “I have a manager now who graduated from NC State with a degree in turf science. Once we get this new territory up and profitable, we may expand. We’ll have to talk about it seriously.”
Next year, Hopper plans for his daughter to take over purchasing. “We’re now transitioning, slowly, to put more on Megan’s plate,” he said. She already helps with marketing while handling scheduling and running the offices. The hardest part of working with his daughter is separating being a dad and being a boss. “We get along really well, but we are working at that.” Hopper admits that he may never be able to completely walk away — “I always will have a small hand in it.” — but the bulk of the business’s day-to-day operations will rest with Megan in the near future.
Want to create a profitable business that can be passed on to your children? Find out how Spring-Green can help. Call 1-800-777-8608 or visit us at www.growmygreenindustrybusiness.com to learn how you can take advantage of all our experience by adding a franchise to your existing business.