A Green Collaboration: Three Ecopreneurs Work Together for a More Sustainable MilwaukeeJun 29, 2011 01:55AM ● By Beth Davis
Bradley Blaeser and son, Benjamin, planting and mulching
At a time when some companies are struggling to survive, three local business owners have come together to show how true entrepreneurial spirit—and the magic of collaboration—can help a business thrive, even in a down economy. Working together with a shared vision for a greener Milwaukee, Bradley Blaeser, Darrell Smith and John LaPointe are able to create and maintain sustainable outdoor spaces by providing ecological landscape design and practices, sustainable organic lawn care services and eco-friendly water management.
In 2006, Blaeser began his natural landscaping business, The Green Team, which provides sustainable landscape management for properties ranging from small residential homes to large commercial and municipal landscapes. Committed to reducing the universal carbon footprint, The Green Team offers services that include installation and management of rain barrels and compost and native gardens. Blaeser uses environmentally friendly tools such as rechargeable motors and engines that run on used vegetable oil.
Blaeser worked out of his home throughout his first year in business, renting storage space during his second year. Although he didn’t want to continue working this way, he could not afford his own business space.
Enter Darrell Smith, president of Earthcare Natural Lawn and Landscapes, a company specializing in ecological landscape design and organic lawn care services. A chance meeting sparked a conversation in which the two discovered that they shared similar economic resource dilemmas. After some time together, an idea to share a business space was born.
“We started to realize the advantages of not only sharing space, but also working together in a collaborative capacity,” says Blaeser.
Smith then suggested a third partner to join him and Blaeser: John LaPointe, of Greener Roofs & Gardens, LLC, a company that focuses on ecological water management and creating signature spaces that sustain the planet.
While competing against each other for business was an initial concern, the three entrepreneurs embraced the opportunity and have since enjoyed the benefits of their collaborative efforts. “Although we have some overlap in services, we each bring different gifts and unique services to the table,” says Smith.
LaPointe agrees. “It has given us the opportunity to enhance our own skills and just be ourselves,” he notes. “We can each focus on what we are good at, instead of trying to do everything.”
Because they each specialize in different areas of sustainable landscapes, the partners often refer clients to each other or work together on projects. Smith, for example, specializes in natural turf care and native landscapes. He uses all-organic methods for fertilizing and preventing weeds—making lawns safe for families and their pets. However, he does not do mowing. That’s where Blaeser comes in.
“Darrell often comes to me to do the mowing for one of his clients,” says Blaeser. “The best part is, we have one another’s input in terms of when to mow, and appropriate mowing heights that improve water infiltration and soil and turf quality. It is beneficial for us and the client.”
The effective management of water in urban and suburban landscapes—including rain gardens, rainwater collection and irrigation, drainage and erosion control—is one of LaPointe’s specialties, and he often receives referrals from both Blaeser and Smith. “We often bounce ideas off of each other and go to one another with questions or problems we may be having,” says LaPointe. “Together, we can come up with sustainable solutions.”
Location: 5402 W. State St., Milwaukee 53202. For more information, contact The Green Team at 414-721-1431 or visit GreenTeamWI.com; Earthcare Natural Lawns and Landscapes at 414-333-4281 or visit EarthcareLawns.com; and Greener Roofs & Gardens, LLC at 262-844-2397 or visit GRGLandscapes.com.