Making Your Grass a Little Greener

As many university students know, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant disruption to learning and daily routines. For CUA member Noah Harrington, it meant moving back home from Acadia University where he had been studying business. While he had previously worked for his father’s company, installing and servicing draft beer lines at restaurants, the pandemic closures put a halt on operations. Facing unprecedented times, Noah seized the opportunity to pursue a venture of his own.

In 2020, Noah and his business partner Luc started Home Keepers Property Maintenance. Between the two of them, they operated with one truck and offered professional lawn care and snow removal services in Halifax. As their business expanded, so too did their banking needs.

“We were heading into our second season of snow removal, and we just needed some money to buy some snow gear,” Noah explains. “We had the contracts lined up, but we didn’t have enough gear or the cash to do it.”

After unsuccessfully seeking a line of credit from two different financial institutions, Noah discovered CUA’s Small Business Loan Guarantee Program. “This allowed us to get the gear and everything we needed to take on the contracts that we got,” Noah says. “We’ve been with CUA ever since.”

Their crew has grown significantly since starting in 2020; they’re currently operating with over a dozen employees and seven trucks on the road. In addition to their team’s growth, the business has expanded its operations from residential property maintenance.

“In the winter we did a rebrand to Oakhill Outdoor,” Noah explains. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve moved more into the commercial side of property maintenance. Now about 90% of our property maintenance is commercial buildings, and our snow removal is 100% commercial.”

Oakhill Outdoor is now operating two divisions within the company, offering both property maintenance as well as landscape design and construction, such as retaining walls and patios.

At 23 years old, Noah shares his business advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs: “Keep going. You’ve just got to keep your head down and work hard. Do good quality work and have open communication with all of your customers so that everyone’s always on the same page.”

He also recommends taking advantage of others’ expertise when it’s needed, with the suggestion of finding a reliable mentor. Based on his own experience, Noah explains that sometimes you can get stuck in a situation where it doesn’t look like there’s a solution; however, by reaching out to someone who’s been through similar scenarios in business and entrepreneurship, you can always figure out your next steps together.

In addition, he says that saving, spending cautiously, and reinvesting in your business is key. “We’ve had some pretty exponential growth over the past few years. So, any money we make, we just keep putting back into the business: buying more equipment, better equipment, and more trucks just to make everyone’s job a little easier so we’re able to take on more work.”

Looking back on what the business has accomplished since getting started in the midst of a pandemic, Noah acknowledges that it was CUA’s personalized service that made a big difference in the beginning. Since becoming a member, he’s even joined CUA’s Member Advisory Council.

“I’m always recommending people to go to CUA, anyone I know who starts a small business,” Noah says. What he particularly appreciates is the personal touch and the relationships he’s been able to build. He describes how easy it is to get in touch with his Small Business Advisor whenever he needs some advice, as well as how he’s personally greeted each time he enters his regular branch. “It’s just a lot more personal, and I feel like we’re valued as customers a lot more.”

“We really like dealing with CUA and it’s allowed us to grow. And as we continue to grow, we want to do it with CUA.”

Our team at CUA is happy to have been able to help Noah and Luc on their journey, and we can support businesses like yours with our Small Business Loan Guarantee Program. Learn more about CUA’s commercial products.