By Kim Breyley
When he asked his father for an allowance, 10-year-old, Jim Vinecourt was told, “You need to get a job.” His five older siblings had found income through helping at the family-owned IGA in Burton (located where the Post Office is today), but when the store was no longer in operation and the property was to be rented, Jim decided to start a lawn cutting business. His parents Jeanne and Joseph Vinecourt were onboard with support.
“I started with a reel mower,” recalls Jim. Reel mowers are old-fashioned manually-pushed, non-motorized in which the blades spin using a scissoring action to cut the grass. They are rarely used today, except by the Amish and they just as often use horse power.
“My first clients were Mrs. Richardson and her neighbor, and they helped me find more customers,” says Jim. “I would cut their grass once per week and do just about anything else they needed. Mrs. Richardson was really good with her flower beds. She taught me a lot of things, like cutting roses and trimming bushes.”
By the next year, he was ready to purchase a Kubota. “We lent him the money with the agreement, he would pay it all back. And he did,” smiles Jeanne.
Each year customers and services were added, and to provide winter income, he purchased a snow blower. “Each year, I would have a goal,” says Jim. “Whether it was to purchase a new piece of equipment or something else to enhance my company.”
During his high school years, he attended the horticultural program at the Auburn Career Center and his fledgling landscaping/plowing business continued to grow. At age 16, he purchased a pickup truck and trailer. A couple of years later he was the proud owner of a dump truck and plow.
“He always had a business head,” says Jeanne. “The first year that he owned the Cub Cadet, business wasn’t as good as he had hoped.” When asked what he wanted for Christmas the year he was 12 years old, he said, “Business cards and a money clip.”
When Jim was young, Jeanne was not comfortable letting him travel through the village unsupervised, so she undertook the tedious job of following at a snail’s pace while he trekked around town on his lawn tractor. “The rule was: you tell me where you are going and I will follow. He was so embarrassed,” she says with a smile. “But I didn’t care.”
While waiting, Jeanne sat in the car and read a book.
“I do remember he one time I forgot gas and we had to go back,” said Jim. “She was so mad at me.” He adds thoughtfully, “Mom and Dad have always been there for me.”
Today, Vinecourt Landscaping and Gas Line Service employs Jim’s wife, Jill and niece Emily. Daron Fabiny is office manager and the company employs six year round, and then totals approximately 15 during the summer season. Vinecourt Landscaping offers installation of patios, fire-pits, decorative walls and most any kind of exterior decor, as well as drainage, driveways, re-grading and sloping.
“We offer a diverse portfolio,” says Jill Vinecourt, “Because it helps keep our staff busy year round.” It is their goal to keep a good mix of services so that layoffs are not necessary. “We opened an additional company called Vinecourt Natural Gas Line Service. This keeps everyone busy installing gas lines during the winter. We try to keep our numbers balanced so that our people are earning a good wage and our customers are receiving the service they deserve.”
The company motto is: “Making the great outdoors great again.”
Jill began working with Jim after they married in 1999. She knew if she was to learn the business, she should start at the bottom and work her way up. “The first year I was the trimming person and the next year I learned the equipment. It helped me to understand employee and customer needs,” says Jill. The team is now highly certified in all aspects of the business and a few years ago, Jill earned her degree in geology. “We feel knowledge is power,” she says.
“Jimmy and I work well together,” said Jill. “We are a really good team in everything we take on. We are good business partners and we are best friends.”
Jill recently purchased the majority share of the company. This allows Vinecourt to be a Woman Owned Business Enterprise, qualifying them for specially-designated contracts. To contact Vinecourt Landscaping and Gas Line Service, call 440-834-0573 or visit