Published in the Winthrop Sun Transcript on July 2002
Years of Business Under his Belt at Age 19
By Jonathan Bender
Twelve year-old Daniel Vannoni, the owner of Vannoni Outdoor Services, trudged up the sidewalk with one hand dragging a wagon filled with tools and the other pushing a lawnmower. He had just started his new landscaping business and had been putting fliers up around the neighborhood in an effort to find clients.It was seven years ago, that Vannoni began offering his services to neighbors around his house on Loring Road. His aunt, Theresa Moreira, had just moved into a place around the corner, providing a natural end point for his route. Vannoni relied on the experience that he had gained working in the vegetable and flower garden with his mom, Patricia, to set up the initial services that he would offer customers.As the phone calls increased and his route grew to 10 houses, people were surprised to learn that their landscaper was still in high school. Vannoni never doubted himself; however, and said, "I see it as an advantage that I am starting so young. I can take risks, I have no family to support. Instead, I receive the support of my family." He has always experimented with new techniques at his house, right now he's tinkering with sprinklers. There's just one condition set down by his dad, Leo: He can try whatever he wants, it just has to be in the back yard.
Not only did he receive the support of his family, he began to employ his two younger sisters Gabriella and Julia as well as his younger brother Alex. Yet Vannoni didn't have the growing pains associated with most companies because he already knew his staff, and as he said, "the best workers are your family."
In order to accommodate all of the new business, Vannoni built a red cart to haul his equipment. This has since become the signature of his business, and the sight of one of his family members wheeling the cart down the street has been a great source of free advertising. "Everybody knows the kid with the red cart." In fact, with a roster of 17 regular clients and 10 on-call clients, Vannoni has had to turn away business for the last several years. In the spirit of the true entrepreneur, he expanded his business to other seasons, purchasing a snow blower and offering customers snow removal services.
Now, at 19 and about to be a sophomore at Bates College, one would think that Daniel Vannoni would be happy as the captain of the sailing team and with the landscaping business that his brother Alex has been running while he's been at college; but he still wants more.
In conjunction with his mother Patricia and his aunt, who is a graphic designer, Vannoni launched Codfish Gear, a graphic design and custom apparel company, in May of this year. The company has already created shirts for the Cottage Park Yacht Club. They also employ several salespeople on consignment across the country, fellow college kids who are looking to make a little bit of extra income. Codfish Gear offers an added bonus to customers: Not only will they create apparel for a client, they will sell it at a given event.
When Vannoni returns to Bates in the fall, he thinks that he is going to study economics. With two businesses under his belt, he's probably ready to teach economics. His first lesson? "Don't underestimate the capabilities of people who start out young."