Kory Alt started Alt’s Operation five years ago, offering “complete lawn care, landscaping, and snow removal.”
But really, it started when he was a kid, mowing neighborhood lawns as a third-grader.
“My dad told me ‘I’m going to buy you a mower, and you’re going to go to work,’” Alt told the Star on Tuesday. “In sixth grade, he bought me a riding mower, so I was mowing lawns up and down the roads.”
Now 23, the Fitchburg native officially began his business with two employees while interning with the Fitchburg Fire Department and attending Madison College to be a firefighter.
Having recently graduated from Madison West High School, he shifted gears midway through and decided to go into the landscaping business full-time because he had a “passion for landscaping.”
“I loved doing it and I thought now is my only chance to go for it,” he said. “I love being outside and turning lawns into amazing art.”
Now his growing business is up to 17 employees, with a shop in Fitchburg and new offices in Middleton and Verona to accommodate the new personnel.
And now instead of putting out fires, he’s building places for his clients to set them, including some outdoor gardens that Alt said are his favorites to build.
“The coolest one was an outdoor fireplace with a big fireplace and chimney and everything with a big pavilion,” he said. “I set up a GoPro (camera) and we have a (time lapse) video on our website.”
The company handles a variety of projects, Alt said, including lawn maintenance, snow removal, general landscaping, “hardscaping” with patio and retaining walls, waterfalls, ponds and outdoor fireplaces and fire kitchens.
“Spring is always the busiest, with new projects, spring cleanups,” Alt said. “All the houses that were built during the winter all need landscaping.”
Mostly, these days, Alt’s Operation is working with new home construction throughout the Dane County area, including Fitchburg.
“We work with seven builders right now, they’ll send us house plans, say, ‘This is the budget, do what you’ve got to do,’” he said. “I meet with the homeowner and go over everything, spread the topsoil, put the lawn in, do the landscaping.
“To see Fitchburg grow is awesome.”
Alt’s crews have everything from plows for moving piles of snow to lawn mowers for trimming bright green lawns. And they’ve used both in just the past few weeks.
But Alt is used to dealing with whatever weather Wisconsin’s offering at the moment.
“Last week, we were shut down for three days because of the rain,” he said. “In those new construction (areas), once that dirt gets wet, you can’t do anything. You just work around the weather.”
The late onset of winter actually helped one part of the business, Alt said, noting they finished their final landscaping job last year Dec. 22.
“That has never happened all the years I’ve been in it,” he said. “Usually we get a snowfall at end of November or early December, so we’re usually done by then.”
Alt said he hopes to soon put down a larger footprint in Fitchburg in the near future and consolidate the offices.
“The end goal is next year hopefully we can buy a piece of land and build everything in Fitchburg so we have our shop and office right next to each other,” he said. “Right now, we go to the shop in the morning, get everyone going, then come (to the office).”
In the meantime, Alt said he wants to “just keep going” with the business, no matter the project and no matter the season. He just wants to make sure the operation keeps running the right way.
“My biggest thing – and we talk about this all the time – is consistency in quality,” he said. “We want to grow; we want to be the biggest and the best, but we don’t want to be the biggest just because were the biggest.
“We want to be known as the best.”