BucketTalk Ep 19 | Caleb Auman

Caleb Auman



From working for his neighbors landscaping company, to starting his own business, to bankrupting that business, to starting a second business that is thriving, Caleb Auman has experienced all the pains and rewards of entrepreneurship firsthand. Founder and owner of Auman Landscaping LLC based in Southeast Ohio, his company specializes in landscape design construction and contracting services for a wide range of clients. Through 20 years in the industry, Caleb has put his knowledge and business skills to the ultimate test, creating an empire that will outlast his legacy for years to come. Join us as Jeremy and Eric sit down with Caleb to learn about his early career, bankruptcy, properly scaling, the key to long term business, and much more in this extremely informative episode of Bucket Talk.

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Starting in the “gateway” to trades, Caleb began work mowing grass at age 15 for his vocational agriculture teacher. At 16, he was eager to work for himself and began his own company. Caleb bought a mower and trailer with a small loan, and began finding his own clients.

“I was so excited to mow my first property that I got turned away from it because I was too early in the season. I stopped to mow a place - like one of my first properties I ever got - in like mid-February, and the guy's like ‘Man, I don't think we need cut.’”

As a young business owner in the industry, Caleb’s enthusiasm for landscaping continued to grow through the years. He began reading about landscape construction and working on small projects, before eventually enrolling in Columbia State’s landscape design build program. During this time, his professors inspired Caleb to become a more strategic businessman.

“...they were adamant about, you know, being a professional and running a legitimate company and turning the image of the trade around… not being a bunch of shirtless guys out working in the yard.. and purposely trying to elevate the industry... command better prices and more respect for the industry… pricing yourself and your work better.”

Equipped with the knowledge to build his empire, Caleb began applying his teachings to his landscaping business. However, his enthusiasm to scale the company quickly outweighed his mental preparedness and eventually led to his demise. In practice, his business was doing great. But when it came to finances, taxes, and administrative work, he fell behind.

“I wasn't in so much debt as I was just in terrible tax debt and terrible tax issues, and the bureaucracy and paperwork and stuff that comes with that. And long story short, just completely crashed the company and filed bankruptcy the whole bit and learned so much from that I had to learn from rock bottom kind of stuff.”

Applying lessons from his failures to his second business, Caleb became more disciplined in his strategic approach and has been thriving ever since. He learned to properly scale his company by focusing on his strengths, while outsourcing his weaknesses to other people.

“The number one thing there is you have to be a businessman. First you have to pay attention to numbers. And if you can't be a businessman... you have no reason to be in business... And I was a technician... I didn't delegate the business aspect of it to anyone. And I didn't do it myself. So it slipped through the cracks… The biggest thing is just learning, you know how to delegate that stuff out, as soon as you can afford to delegate out your weaknesses so that you can focus on what you're strong on and just go crazy on what you're good at.”

Caleb has successfully built his new company by placing a strong emphasis on areas such as customer service, employee satisfaction, community engagement, and more. By doing so, he is playing the long game both externally and internally to maintain a well-rounded, thriving business.

“That's the key to long business… I look at businesses that I admire locally and people I know. And I mean that that's how they look at it, a lot of the most successful businesses I know that are in the trades, that is their policy, they're in it for the long game, they're not in at the turn a quick buck. And that's just it at the end of the day. And they have long standing companies that are wealthy, and well off and well respected.”

At age 40 and in the industry for about twenty years, Caleb is always looking for new business opportunities, while staying mindful to balance his workload with family life. Looking to the future, he is looking to create a business that will outlast him for years to come. From the depths of financial hell to building a successful company, Caleb has endured the ups and downs of an entrepreneur to reap the rewards of hard work, discipline, and determination.

Visit Caleb's social links