Wilson Stratas is not a typical 20-year-old. He is a business owner, with plans for his future which seem both practical and well-thought-out. He’s a realist, a hard-worker, and a Cape Fear Community College graduate.
Stratas graduated CFCC with a Landscaping and Gardening Certificate in 2017, though he had already started his own business during his senior year of high school.
“I didn’t think I would pursue this career, but I tried it and liked it,” said Stratas. “I like being outside, and I like being my own boss.”
Stratas’ business, Oceanside Landscaping & Maintenance, has a motto: No problems, Just solutions. It’s a concept Stratas seems to have taken to heart. Starting your own business in high school is rare enough, but honing that business into a successful, growing operation at such a young age is almost unheard of. Stratas has been methodical in his approach. He studies his competition, is careful with his image, and is proactive in his relationships with his clients.
He also values education and chose to come to Cape Fear Community College to learn skills to enhance his operation.
“My favorite class was Turf Management,” says Stratas. “I learned a lot about pest and weed control and what chemicals to use to control them.” Stratas is now preparing to take a licensure exam that will allow him to begin offering lawn pest control as part of his business.
“I want to be a full-service operation,” says Stratas.
Learning skills to enhance his business is not only Stratas’ plan for his current operation but also part of his long-term vision for the business. He knows he will not only need to expand the services he can provide but prepare for the physical toll this type of work can take.
“Long-term, I see myself supervising several crews, and doing some of the lighter work – like insecticide application – myself,” says Stratas.
It’s obvious that Stratas is a planner, constantly working on ways to improve and build upon his already growing business. He advises CFCC students interested in taking a similar path, “Do your research. Know your competition. See how people are running their businesses. Observe, work, and get involved. Learn from your experiences.”
Stratas explains his future plans with a gleam in his eye. “I want to see how big I can get,” he says. “I like challenging myself.”
He also advises those following in his footsteps to be aware of their image. “Have respect for your own work and process. Your work will advertise for you. If you do good work, it will be noticed. As you grow and expand, you will realize that there are differences between your customers. Treat your customers well and expect the same from your clients, and recognize that your image makes a difference. You can’t show up in a trashy-looking vehicle and expect to get high-end clients.”
Stratas began his business with a lawnmower that had no engine cover that had to be lifted into the back of his vehicle each day. “I’ve come a long way,” he says. “I buy equipment as I can. It doesn’t have to be brand new, but it’s a long way from where I began.”
To learn more about Landscape Gardening at CFCC, contact Program Director Ken Wells at (910) 612-4447 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.