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Students in Business Starting a Business in Nova Scotia
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Phil Duffenais

DC Lawn Services
Halifax, NS


Phil Duffenais, and his employee Evan Cunningham, who will become co-owner of the business next season, aren’t scared of a little hard work – or even a lot of hard work. As 16-year-old high school honour students with a booming lawn mowing business, this spring the pair were regularly seen behind their lawn mowers logging up to 6 hours every night and 14 hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Now that school is out for the summer, Duffenais and Cunningham are breathing a sigh of relief as they are on to more normal hours working respectable 8-hour days 5 days a week.

From the age of 12, Duffenais has been mowing his neighbours’ lawns, but it wasn’t until this year that he decided to get serious and turn it into a full-fledged, full-scale business called DC Lawn Services ( With just six customers last year, Duffenais wasn’t worried about finding new work; he was more concerned about finding the capital to buy the equipment he needed.

“Up until this year, I’d been using my customers’ equipment,” says Duffenais. “But since I’ve made the decision to really do this, I knew I needed to buy my own gear.” So with the inevitable purchase of two lawn mowers, a truck and other lawn mowing accessories looming, Duffenais went looking for some financing. It was his Internet skills and Google that led him to the Students in Business loan program.

“It was amazing,” Duffenais explains. “I filled out my application and sent it in one evening at 6pm and I got a call the next morning at 11am saying I got the loan.” Duffenais was doubly impressed by the fact that the program lent him money as a 15-year-old. “You can’t exactly go to a bank when you’re 15 and ask for money,” he says with a laugh.

With the help of the loan and some of his own savings, Duffenais was able to buy the equipment he needed to start his business off on the right foot. “We didn’t go all out,” comments Duffenais. “We were really careful to buy equipment that was within our budget, whether it was new or used.”

Sales are up 1400% over last year and the two high school students have been able to take on eight times more customers, thanks in part to the Student in Business program. The training that goes along with the program has also contributed towards the success of this young business, helping Duffenais develop skills in areas such as marketing and customer service.

The future sure is looking bright for Duffenais and Cunningham – and at age 16, this is only the beginning for these two young entrepreneurs.


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