By James Forrest

Almost nothing energizes me more as a business attorney than seeing a young entrepreneur with a dream and a lot of sweat make his way in the business world.

Brent Droege, owner of Agape Lawn Company, is just one such entrepreneur.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Brent for a number of years, since he and the Droege family have been very active in area ministries and volunteer work. To understand Brent and his approach to the business of lawn care, you first have to understand the history he and his family share in ministering to at-risk kids in Durham.

From the age of 11, Brent has been associated with the Agape Corner Christian boarding school, a long-standing downtown Durham institution. As a child, he worked and volunteered at the school, alongside his family, and while an accounting student at NC State, Brent joined the boarding school’s full-time staff as a resident advisor to the multi-ethnic, at-risk student population that Agape Corner serves.

It was during his time as a resident advisor that he hatched an idea for an extension of the educational offerings of Agape Corner—a business where the kids could work, contribute, take responsibility, earn money, and lead a productive lifestyle upon matriculating from the school. This idea hit Brent squarely in both his heart and head in his junior year of college.

Now, at the ripe old age of 23, Brent finds himself entering his fourth year in a thriving business. What started as a labor of love with a couple of the kids from Agape Corner has grown into a collection of friends, most of them with ties to the school and area churches, following a tight set of principles and seeing the possibilities of what can happen when you treat people as you would have them treat you.

Brent recently shared with me some remarkable numbers as he enters year four of Agape: 10 full-time employees, over 200 residential customers, six commercial customers, and over 60 ringing endorsements on Angie’s List (in addition to earning the Service Magic seal of approval).

In a very short time, Brent and friends have grown a very profitable, sustainable business. When I asked him about the secret to success, he said, “We focus on three things where we know others may not do as well — leaving us to impress people and build relationships. First, we’re quick on the phone—people can’t stand it when home services companies and contractors don’t call them back or aren’t timely in their response. Second, we try to always be kind to people—we want them to know how grateful we are for their business, and how much we love what we do. Finally, we take immediate responsibility when we screw up, which happens in every walk of life, no matter how great your intentions are, and people respect that.”

Brent sees a bright future for the company. In addition to the standard mowing/trimming/edging/blowing services standard among lawn care companies in the area, Agape is focusing on full service packages ranging from $150-300 per month, where customers can take advantage of the team’s work ethic and expertise in areas like the company’s seven fertilizer and weed control treatments, aeration and seeding, leaf and debris pickup, hedge trimming, and garden bed weeding.

I am very proud to have Brent Droege and the team at Agape Lawn Company as part of our family of clients at the Forrest Firm. Agape proudly serves not only the Durham community, but boasts multiple clients in Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, Chapel Hill, and the Hillsborough/Efland area.