Case contest winner is kicked into gear

Photo: Danielle Slater, Ash and Ace Photography
Photo: Danielle Slater, Ash and Ace Photography
Photo: Danielle Slater, Ash and Ace Photography
Jeff Rausch has big plans for his business in 2019. Photo: Danielle Slater, Ash and Ace Photography

We’ve all needed a kick-start at some point in our life or career. Jeff Rausch, founder and owner of Daybreaker Landscapes, Union, Ill., is getting his kick-start this year after winning the 2019 Kickstart Landscape Business Development contest, held by Case Construction Equipment.

Hitting some ruts in his business, Rausch said he needed a rejuvenation. He decided to attend the 2018 GIE+EXPO for a “renewed sense of interest in the industry,” signed up for a Pave Tech class and entered the Case Kickstart contest — and won.

This good fortune didn’t come without struggle. An Air Force veteran who lost his job in the 2008 recession, Rausch was delivering pizzas and doing anything to make ends meet.

Getting an old truck and borrowing a mower, he started a landscape business, put in long hours and learned things the hard way.

“There were several nights where I was working until 2 a.m. on commercial jobs with headlamps trying to finish,” Rausch said. “Some of that was employee problems or my own inexperience of not knowing how long jobs took to complete.”

His perseverance gained him loyal customers. He currently serves a 90 percent residential, 10 percent commercial customer base. “I had made a promise to my customers and had to make sure the job was getting done,” he said. “I have built a reputation as someone who will get the job done right, no matter what.”

Reporting a 2018 annual revenue of $275,000, Rausch said he plans to focus his service mix to 80 percent design/build and 20 percent maintenance. He also plans to hire more employees, including veterans.

“My goal is, at the end of the contest, not only do I want to keep the Case compact track loader, but that I have to keep it because I have so much work to do,” Rausch said.

Danielle Pesta

Danielle Pesta

Danielle Pesta is the senior digital media manager at Landscape Management's parent company, North Coast Media. She started writing for the green industry in 2014 and has won multiple awards from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA). She can be reached at dpesta@northcoastmedia.net.

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