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A Cut Above

A landscaping franchise bloomed into a livelihood for this grad.

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This story appears in the May 2004 issue of Start Up.

Being an entrepreneur was the furthest thing from Michael Carlo's mind when he graduated from college with an interest in computer programming. Now, 14 years later, Carlo, 37, is the quintessential entrepreneur. He's co-owner of six U.S. Lawns franchises and expects to gross $6.3 million this year alone--and he can't imagine working for anyone else but himself.

It all started in 1990, when Carlo's sister and brother-in-law asked him to invest some sweat equity in a franchise by running it for them. Carlo had never been interested in running his own business, but all it took was some sisterly persuasion to convince him that running a franchise would be a great opportunity. The family researched many different companies before discovering U.S. Lawns, a landscape maintenance franchise. It sounded like exactly what they were looking for: U.S. Lawns offered room for growth, low overhead costs, and a good year-round business in the warm Florida weather.

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