FOUNDER A ND PRESIDENT, BLUE PINE ENTERPRISES
In the past 18 years, Mike Lalonde has been unemployed for exactly one night, when he was 25. It was January 2000, and Lalonde had what he calls “a little falling-out” with his previous employer, a landscaping company. He decided to go it alone the next morning, so he put a truck on his credit card, bought some tools, printed business cards and hit the road.
“Every day, if I didn’t have a job to do, I’d drive around to every construction site I saw and met people and handed out cards,” remembers Lalonde, who was born in Montreal and moved to B.C. as a teenager. “After a few years we started to get known in certain sectors, and word-of-mouth was definitely a big thing, and it kind of snowballed from there.”
Today, Surrey-based commercial landscaper Blue Pine Enterprises has about 150 employees. “There were growing pains the whole way,” Lalonde says. “We doubled every year for five years, from about five employees to 10 to 20 to 40 to 80. From 2003 to 2008, it was on the edge of chaos every minute of every day; that’s the only way I can explain it.”
Lalonde, who studied business administration at University of the Fraser Valley for two years before dropping out, says he knew little about running a company, but he figured it out on the job. “When you’re doing it and it’s costing you money, you learn real quick,” he notes. “Within a couple of years, it was obvious that this could be a very viable business and I could grow it to a certain point. I didn’t know back then it was going to be this big, but it is, and there’s no end to it.”
Asked if he has any advice for entrepreneurs, Lalonde keeps it simple, as he always has: “Work your ass off, be honest to everybody, and find good people and treat them like gold.” —N.C.
What is your definition of success? Happiness. Affording the time to spend with your family and friends. Affording to do whatever you want, whenever