Grass Roots

A long-ago business plan grows into a thriving company.

Most 13-year-olds are just trying to figure out what growing up is all about. But when Brian Beniek was 13, he was kick-starting his career in landscaping, lawn services and snow removal. He also had a paper route, and used that job to promote his business with each newspaper delivery. Soon enough, Beniek had his first customer: the Chanhassen Post Office.

Fast-forward nearly 40 years later, and Beniek has amassed more than 100 customers, stretched across the southwest metro, who all rely on his eye for landscaping and depend on him even during the most torrential snowstorms.

And it all started with a lawnmower. “My dad had this junkie push mower, and I hated mowing the lawn,” says Beniek, president of Beniek Property Services. “When I heard my grandpa was getting a new lawnmower, my dad bought his old lawnmower.”

With help from his dad, George, Brian launched his own business, Beniek Property Services, and promoted it anywhere he went—from his newspaper route to his school’s yearbook. Everywhere he went, Beniek collected not only customers, but friendships that would last a lifetime. “Brian goes above and beyond to provide a high-touch service,” says Todd Wilkening, director of facility services at Ridgeview Medical Center and one of Beniek’s oldest customers. “He stops and checks with customers, makes sure his team is doing a good job and encourages constant feedback.”

From Minnesota’s first snowfall to the last leaves shed in the fall, Beniek and his team of 30-plus employees—with help from his 81-year-old father—work around the clock to meet the community’s needs, through snow removal, fall clean-up, landscaping, lawn maintenance and more. “I could not do it without the people I have in place. They make me look like a rock star,” Beniek says. “I think with any business, it’s the good staff that can follow through and help out that makes [the business] successful.”

But the business isn’t the only career Beniek has had. In 1988, Beniek added a new role to his repertoire: police officer for the city of Plymouth. Beniek spent 26 years in the force, where he relished the uniqueness of each day–doing everything from saving someone’s life in a Caribou Coffee shop to delivering two babies. “I wanted to help people and I wanted to get in there and make a difference,” Beniek says. “I think that I was always the guy that always wanted to do something different.”

After retiring in April 2014 as a sergeant, Beniek has refocused on his property services business, helping out with projects when he can. For Beniek, seeing the end product of a neat lawn, with striping in the grass and the leaves picked up is something worth taking pride in. But when you ask Beniek what his all-time favorite part of his job is, he’ll tell you it’s his customers and the relationships he has made. “I enjoy meeting people, telling them about my business and seeing if there is a need that I can fulfill,” Beniek says. “If not, it’s about building a relationship with them. You never know when someone’s going to need something. And as someone once told me, when you’re a hammer, everything is a nail.”

And that enthusiasm for people and getting the job done shows through each and every one of the business’s projects–no matter how deep the snow is. “We had a big snowstorm, and the snow was really starting to pile up at work, so I called Brian’s hotline to ask if someone could come out,” says Tim Bildsoe, a long-time commercial and residential customer. “It was not a half-hour later that I saw Brian outside, in a pickup truck, plowing the snow, in a raging snowstorm. He wanted it to be done [and] he wanted it to be done right.”