Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team
Tackling a big dream takes the right combination of passion, dedication and support. And when you put in the time and have the right people in your corner, you just might achieve success sooner than you’d think. That’s the case, at least, for American Family Insurance customer James Copeland.
From a young age, James has had a fondness for landscaping. Since he was just 4-years-old, his dad had him pushing a lawn mower and manicuring their yard with a level of detail many don’t have the patience for. And while some kids would’ve resented the chore, James embraced it, crediting his father for his life’s passion.
“As I was growing up, my dad taught all of his boys how to work in the yard,” says James. “Unlike my brothers, I found the outdoors to be relaxing and exciting at the same time!”
Once James got a hang of the basics, he was offered work by his neighbor, Mr. Cornell, who owned a small landscaping company, adding fuel to his already budding dream.
“One Sunday when I was just 12, Mr. Cornell came over and asked my dad if I could help him cut grass on the tractor,” shares James. “When the job was complete, he would pay me $80. At the time, $80 felt like $1 million! And I thought, if he could pay me $80, I wonder how much he was actually making. It was with this thought that I decided to take on cutting grass for myself. I mean, I loved tractors and machines, and the industry just seemed perfect for me. In short, that’s how I decided to start my own landscaping company.”
Over the next 6 years, James grew from a kid who could barely see over the handlebars of a mower to a young man with a handful of clients of his own. In the fall of 2014, James went off to The Ohio State University on a full scholarship. But, when he was away, his clientele base continued to grow, and he made the decision to come back home and go all-in on his dream to run a successful landscaping company.
“Sitting in class one day I thought to myself, ‘when my classmates graduate, they’d want to be in the position I’m already in,’” says James. “So, I decided to take a leave of absence to focus on growing my company.”
James decision was the right one — his company grew fast! And he knew he’d need some guidance from someone he trusted to keep things on track. That’s where his family’s long-time American Family Insurance agent, Monica Hoskins, stepped in to help.
“At the time, I was looking at an 18-year-old kid with a small business and a big dream. Dreams that I couldn’t know would come true,” says Monica. “But he had his plan! He had one truck and one mower. But by the end of the summer, James had two employees and two more trucks.”
Monica and James’ relationship was more than strictly agent and customer. While they discussed insurance, Monica also became the expert James turns to with questions about business planning, employee management, payroll and other business topics.
“Mrs. Monica has always been a mom for me in the background,” shares James. “When it comes to advice and knowledge, she’s the elder I look up to. She keeps me out of trouble. Since I’m young and have a business that’s growing very fast, she helps me prepare. She helped set my company up with the proper payroll company, accountants and lawyers. She’s currently helping me with an awesome business plan so I can grow the company even bigger.”
With James’ passion and the help of his biggest dream champion, Monica, he’s now grown his business to one that grosses over $1.8 million a year at just 23-years-old. He’s expanded his clientele from homeowners to business, with some of his most notable clients being Home Depot, McDonalds and Taco Bell, to name a few.
“When I tell this story, it makes me realize just how important people are in your success,” says James. “Mrs. Monica and her assistant Mrs. Becky have saved me so many times and guided me to make the proper business decisions. I’m so grateful.”
As for Monica, she couldn’t be prouder of James. And while she doesn’t credit herself for his success, she’s proud to have upheld her commitment to her customers and community, and conducts her business with them always in mind.
“Why do I get up in the morning? To make a difference in the world,” says Monica. “I literally strive to do that every day. I and every one of my employees take the time to get to know our insureds, and we make sure to never rush any part of the process. Because we know that if you take care of people and do the right thing, they will always take care of you, too.”