You could call Steve and Shawn Bromell fishers of men … well, small business owners, to be exact. The husband and wife who own Pro Cutters Lawnscapes have not only built solid company with their own hands, they’ve helped others who want to follow in their entrepreneurial footsteps as business owners.
Founded seven years ago, the commercial right-of-way and interstate mowing business that serves metro Atlanta and beyond in Georgia services medical facilities, businesses, schools and subdivisions and provides roadside cutting. The ambitious couple came to their business venture organically which has been a rooting foundation. When they launched together, shortly after getting married, Steve had been doing lawn care himself following 8 years in the U.S. Army, and Shawn, who began her career in broadcast journalism – first on the radio and then as a television news anchor and reporter – always wanted to own a business. With their union, she got two dreams for the price of one.
“For me, it was just a desire to be able to create something of our own, figure things out and make it work,” she says of her affinity for enterprise ownership. “Steve and I both believed we had the heart and mind to operate a business that could not only provide a valuable service to our community, but also provide people with jobs.”
When they launched, Steve cut grass himself while Shawn was home handling logistics like staying up until 2 o’clock in the morning many nights printing post cards to drum up business. “To go from that to a business that has won seven awards, has a work force of nearly 200 people and increased sales by 2,100 percent is amazing,” Shawn reflects.
Pro Cutters now employs about 50 people, works with over 15 subcontractors and has annual revenues more than $10 million. But for them, the company’s reach is about more than a day’s work; it’s also very much about community building. And the undergirding philosophy behind what they do is simple: Do everything in excellence. The payout, reaping what they sow as every contract the lawn care company has serviced has been renewed.
“We are so proud that Pro Cutters has helped several people start businesses in their own right and employ even more people. It’s like a net that keeps growing and it means we are doing our part to help make Georgia’s economy even better,” Shawn says.
Members of the National Minority Supplier Development Council and other small business organizations, Steve – who teaches an entrepreneurship class at the couple’s church and mentors fledgling businesses – suggests similar affiliation and involvement for up-and-comers in the small business sector.
“Having a forum where you can be around a diverse group of business owners and corporate executives is priceless. You must be focused and have an open mind to learning and giving of yourself.”
Pro Cutters was named the 2016 National Supplier of the Year by NMSDC and the 2017 SBA Minority Small Business Champion.
The tenets of entrepreneurship that Steve drives home to his mentees and students: having a solid foundation of faith, and the willingness to lean in when times get tough while pursuing “the dream.” And the myth he finds himself most often debunking, that “they must have it all together before starting,” he says. “The truth is if you wait until that happens you may never start. Success starts in the mind and must have constant movement to achieve it.”
The nuances the Connecticut native learned hands-on are also threaded into what he shares. “One thing I can say I’ve learned is you have to stand behind your company’s work, no matter what. If a client is unhappy, you make it right. I know a lot of small businesses don’t believe they can do that, thinking ‘I can’t afford to do that job over for a customer (if your company did indeed mess up) or pay that bill if my employees damaged something.’ But what you save initially, you will lose later when people see your company as having no integrity.”
The Bromells are parents to three sons – 25-year-old Michael, a graduate from Indiana University now in law school, 14-year-old Justin who attends Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, and 6-year-old Chayce who is heading to first grade.
Along with their success professionally, Shawn and Steve count them as their greatest accomplishment.
And the qualities they’re passing on to their children have undoubtedly already begun to take hold from the duo’s faith, work ethic and steadfastness to their dedication to serving others. Something has stuck.
“When you look at the statistics for small business success – according to the SBA, only about half of all business startups will survive five years… and the numbers really go down when you get to 10 years,” Shawn says. “Business is not for the faint of heart; you have to have a strong will and determination to make it.”
Originally Published in Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine