MAHOMET — When Ross Mansfield and Brennen Shobe, both age 20, show up to do landscaping work on behalf of their company, they are often met with surprise.
People don’t expect the youthful-looking pair to be the owners of Core Concept Landscapes.
“Sometimes we’ll get tips from homeowners, thinking that we’re just employees,” Mansfield said. “Or people will walk up and be like, ‘Who do you work for?’ And it’s like, ‘Ourselves,’ and they’ll be taken aback (and say), ‘You guys are young.’”
Yet Mansfield and Shobe have, in eight short months, built a bustling business with two full-time employees and one part-time worker. They’ve acquired large trucks, trailers and other major equipment, their own shop, and praise from across Mahomet.
So who came up with the idea of a landscaping venture?
“It was pretty much together. We started ... around November of 2018, so yeah, we’re pretty fresh,” Shobe said.
“We both were working for different people. Obviously we graduated high school and then we didn’t really know what we wanted to do, so we kind of took our talents and then made our own thing and started doing it for ourselves,” Mansfield said. “We were working on the side, and then we’re like, well, we need to be legit if we’re going to do it. So then we took it to the next level — got the LLC and the insurance and made the business what it is.
“We had one truck. We used trailers ... now we have our own shop and our own place,” he added. “It’s really gone good.”
The business side of the work did intimidate them at first, they admit. But they had both technological help and assistance from the Mahomet business community.
“We were on his laptop Googling ‘how to form a business,’” Mansfield recalled. “We met with a few local businesspeople and got a lot of pointers, but I definitely say for me it was intimidating because it was a new experience. I had never done it before.”
Shobe was a bit more fearless about that aspect of things.
“I just jumped into it,” he said. “I was cool with it. I was ready for sure, because I’ve always kind of done my own thing. ... I just kind of like doing things by myself.”
Mansfield chimed in, “Not having somebody tell you what to do.”
The pair met in school: Mansfield is a 2016 graduate of Mahomet-Seymour High School; Shobe earned his diploma in 2017. Mansfield expects to earn his bachelor’s in nursing from Millikin University by spring 2020 — “Now I’m too far in to quit, so I might as well finish,” he says — while Shobe is wrapping up business management studies at Parkland College, with one semester left.
Core Concepts focuses on landscaping, although the business does do mowing as well. Mansfield focuses more on selecting and placing plants, while Shobe designs the rock, pavers and other landscape components around and complementing the greenery.
“We’re taking the money we get and then reinvesting it into the business,” Mansfield said. “We’ve been buying a lot of equipment, but that also makes us more efficient.”
To build their customer base, the young men relied on social media, word of mouth and also assistance from Mahomet Landscapes, owned by Matt Pommier.
“We have a pretty good relationship with him,” Mansfield said.
Shobe added, “He helps us out on some jobs and getting clients and stuff.”
“Basically, once you get in somebody’s door, everybody they know is going to look at what you did for them, and if they have nothing but good things to say then you’re in their door too,” Mansfield said.
“I think right now, people want good service,” he added. “So that’s, like, what we try to do. We try to make sure everything is done right; we try to do very clean, quality work, because that’s where the market is right now: where people want good service, not just service.”
One of their satisfied customers is also a business owner in Mahomet. Evan El Koury of Raptor Power Systems — who also serves as board vice chairman for the Mahomet Area Chamber of Commerce — first learned about Core Concepts when they joined the chamber earlier in 2019, and he was impressed with Mansfield and Shobe’s work from the beginning.
“As a courtesy, I requested a quote for maintaining my lawn and snow removal for my business downtown,” El Koury said this week via email. “I was extremely impressed with the professionalism they displayed. The first time it snowed, I showed up to my office at 7:30 a.m. and all the snow was already cleared. When spring came and they stopped by my house to quote my lawn, they showed up on time and not only provided me with a quote lower than I was currently paying but made some great suggestions about our landscaping.
“After about a month of high-quality lawn maintenance (these guys do a SERIOUS good job), I asked for a quote to redo our landscaping,” he added.
“Core walked me through the whole process, costs, options, plants, rocks, etc. The quote they gave was far less than what we were quoted the prior year. I hired Core to do our landscaping. They took my wife Kathleen and I to the nursery to pick out plants. What I appreciated most was the insight that they gave about plant suggestions. They showed us what would work with the amount of sun we had and the local weather. As expected, the final product was beyond anything we could have expected.
“I am happy to say that we have amazing landscaping now all due to Core! I highly recommend them to anyone redoing their landscaping or looking for high quality lawn maintenance,” El Koury said.
Mansfield and Shobe and their staffers work primarily in Mahomet, but they sometimes do jobs in Champaign. They can be contacted at 217-898-1557 (Shobe) and 217-552-6179 (Mansfield).
Penny Weaver/The Mahomet Citizen
Brennen Shobe, left, and Ross Mansfield of Core Concepts Landscapes place a new emblem for their business on one of their new trucks. The young Mahomet businessmen have seen their landscaping venture grow by leaps and bounds this year despite their youth: Both are 20.
Penny Weaver/The Mahomet Citizen
Core Concept Landscapes owners Brennen Shobe, left, and Ross Mansfield show some of the landscaping equipment they’ve acquired in their short time in business.