Friday, May 18, 2012 | 8:57 p.m. CDT; updated 10:48 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 9, 2012

FULTON – Chance Foster, 30, is a husband, father and co-founder of Truescape LLC, a landscaping company based in Fulton. Foster thought he’d stay in Columbia after college, but the opportunity arose to start his own business with longtime friend and fellow landscaper Nathan Real. Both of them received their degrees from the University of Missouri in plant science, landscape design and turf management. After having a daughter, Foster’s lifestyle has changed, and he’s well on target to reach the career, family and lifestyle goals he set out to reach by the age of 35. He tells his story. 

I was in sixth grade, and I started working for a landscaping company here in town – just helping around his house, and then in eighth grade we started going out into the field. Nathan started working at the same time.

I stayed with that company until I was a freshman in college, then worked on the golf course, worked for another landscaping company and then decided I wanted to do my own thing.

(Nathan and I) both started just working out of the back of pickup trucks. Before we mainly focused on landscape design and installation. Now we have two mulch crews, and a fertilizer and weed control crew. Depending on the time of year, we have two to three landscaping crews.

But we’re shut up in the office most of the time now, which is not what we planned on. It just happened, I guess. The more work we do, the more paperwork we do. We have a full-time office manager. Payroll, accounts payables, accounts receivables, cost of meeting people and doing estimates, staying on top of things — or trying to stay on top of things.

I actually enjoy it better when I’m out in the field, because I don’t have a hundred things to worry about, and I feel like I’m getting something done. It’s satisfaction. But you get older and fatter, it gets harder to do.

I’m happy. No doubt. I could use a little less stress, but I think that’s true with anybody. I have a good wife and a beautiful little daughter. Work’s going good. Obviously you always want to make more money. But our business is growing every year and that’s about all you can ask for, especially with the way things are right now. We both had that same goal, but I think we’re growing faster than we thought we would. I mean, we work hard. You know, we don’t wait for things to come to us. We try to go get them.

I don’t want to say money is the only motivation, but that has a lot to do with it. I think we both want to have a successful lifestyle. A nice house that’s being easily paid for. Nice cars. A vacation a year, maybe a couple. Being able to take off for a baseball game with your friends.

Less stress. Not working 80 hours a week. Spending time with family and friends.

What causes the most stress right now? Truescape. The long hours and the employees.

Once we get to a big enough point where we have constant employees, I think it will all flow better. Right now we have to lay guys off and on. It’s hard to go from not working at all in the winter to working your ass off. It’s hard to get guys motivated, it’s hard to find guys who want to work that many hours. We’re in the office trying to get this stuff done, then we’re out there trying to help them get production done.

When we started the company, I always thought I’d like to not work so hard by the time I’m 35. I don’t know why I picked that number to be honest with you. I just think by that time in your career you should know exactly what’s going on. I don’t want to be 40 and still struggling to get things done.

My daughter — I have to pay for her education, her wedding. Hopefully, by that time, I won’t have to worry about it. But who knows what tuition is going to be. I think school ended up costing me about $45,000 over four years. Hopefully $10,000 per year isn’t a big deal for me to pay out of pocket by then. So, in a sense, I’m not worried about that.

I want her to be happy, and that’s just doing what you want to do. Finding what makes you happy, some people don’t know what they want to do and so they’re not happy until they find that. I’d say it’s a little more limited now (because of the economy), but I guess it depends on what you want to do. I mean, if this is the economy she grows up in, then she wouldn’t know any difference.

It is what it is. I still think there’s an opportunity to do what you want to do. There might not be an opportunity to do what you used to do, say you got laid off and now you have to find something new. But for her, she’s just got to start out doing what she wants to do.

This story is part of the American Next, a special project exploring the hopes, fears and changing expectations of Missouri's next generation in challenging times.

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