Michael Josephson got his first taste of being an entrepreneur through working on the family farm in East Windsor growing fresh produce that he would eventually sell at the Trenton Farmers Market. “It was hard work, but looking back, that experience of developing a product from a seed and eventually packaging and selling it to customers at the market was invaluable.”
When Josephson entered high school, his parents made the difficult decision to sell the family farm, later acquiring the Mercer County franchise territory rights from Lawn Doctor. It was through the Lawn Doctor experience that Josephson truly caught the entrepreneurial bug.
“Throughout high school, I was very involved in helping my father expand his new Lawn Doctor franchise business throughout Mercer County,” said Josephson. “Back then the lawn care industry was in its infancy and using a third party to maintain your lawn was not the norm at any level. The market needed to be educated on the benefits of working with an outside company for lawn care, and I learned a lot about marketing and the importance of truly connecting with customers. Being part of a national franchise helped with this process as well.”
After receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona, where he majored in landscape architecture, Josephson took over the Lawn Doctor franchise from his father and further expanded the business reaching approximately 2,000 clients throughout Mercer County. After about five years he decided to sell the business and launch his own company with expanded offerings.
Fast forward 10 years to 2016, and that company, Fresh Start Design/Build, has evolved into a high-growth success providing a complete package of landscape design/build, hardscape, and irrigation services for both residential and commercial clients. While most clients are within Mercer County, the company also maintains a significant base in Hunterdon, Monmouth, Middlesex, and Somerset counties.
Fresh Start’s corporate clients include the likes of Bank of America, Capital One Bank, PNC Bank, Longhorn Steakhouse, Chili’s, KinderCare, and Extended Care Hotels. Alliances with Colliers International and Brickman have helped grow the commercial side of the business.
“Throughout my early experiences helping my family expand our farm business and later, the Lawn Doctor franchise, I learned that having a sincere interest in doing what is best for the customer is the key to success in any venture. While the Landscaping industry has grown exponentially with the amount of money spent and the number of service providers, those that wish to be successful for the long term need to operate the same way.”
Interestingly enough, it was through consistently doing what’s best for the client that the company recently launched a new division. Josephson indicated that over the last three to four years, Fresh Start has received numerous requests from clients and others requesting installations of new paver walkways and patios.
“For a large majority of these requests, we would recommend cleaning, sanding and sealing the existing walkways and patios, saving each client thousands of dollars. Our new Paver Saviors Division is focused exclusively on this service of making existing walkways and patios look like new — without the significant costs associated with replacements.”
Fresh Start Design/Build Group. www.freshstartlandscape.com. 609-490-0143.