Matt Ternullo, a fifth-semester student at the University of Connecticut, has been managing his own business since his latter years of high school.
Ternullo is the general manager of Ternullo Lawn Care, a landscaping company based out of his hometown Billerica, Massachusetts. Ternullo said the business grew out of a passion he had when he was very young.
“I started it technically when I was 11 but I didn’t have a real business or real customers until I was a sophomore in high school,” Ternullo said. “It started basically with me mowing lawns when I was younger.”
Ternullo, who is a turf grass management and business management double major, said that the combination of the interests that he studies in school has helped him expand his business to reach more audiences.
“I like doing two majors because I can learn both aspects of it and keep growing the business and getting more customers, and so then it will just keep succeeding,” Ternullo said.
Ternullo also said the business has grown past the landscaping and now includes work on patios, walkways and salt and irrigation systems.
Ternullo said balancing school work with running a business can be challenging, especially during the busy season, which is during the fall and then again in late spring.
“When I’m in class, I’ll get calls from customers and employees and I have to answer that right away,” Ternullo said. “Throughout the day during class, I’ll probably get around five to six calls and I have to leave class, talk to them, and so it gets a bit distracting.”
While Ternullo is away at school for the year, he heavily relies on the team of managers and employees at home to do the day-to-day work.
“I handle scheduling, customer relations, billing and I do directly deal with the managers at home every day,” Ternullo said.
Ternullo has also encouraged the hiring people in and out of school, given that he first started his business with his friends in high school.
“I have a couple of people who were in high school at the time but have since left and decided that they’d rather work full time,” Ternullo said. “Only three of my employees are actually still in school.”
When Ternullo goes home for the summer, he is back to the hands-on aspect of his business.
“I’m working five days a week, 12-13 hours a day in the actual fields,” Ternullo said. “And then after that it’s pretty much right back to bookkeeping and customer relations.”
Ternullo said he plans on keeping the business after graduation because it allows him to succeed financially, but said that if the business should fail at any point, his backup plans are either something in the business industry or a golf course superintendent.
Ternullo’s love for the industry is rooted in his father’s influence, he said.
“My dad and his brothers had a company when they were 15-25 years old, just a smaller thing, but they sold it and got rid of it,” Ternullo said. “But he’s been really intense on landscaping his whole life so from a young age I’ve learned to love it because I’ve been doing all of that household stuff since I was really young.”
Ternullo noted that what motivates him is the satisfaction he gets from making his customers happy and seeing his business thrive.
“When customers tell me ‘this was a really good job’ or they give me compliments, that is huge for me,” Ternullo said. “Especially because this is self created.”
Taylor Harton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. They can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.