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Dan Eichenlaub to help Judge Ag Springboard April 10

Posted: February 28, 2014

Entrepreneur and Penn Stater Daniel Eichenlaub Will Share his Start-Up Expertise with Student Entrepreneurs as an Ag Springboard Judge on April 10
Daniel Eichenlaub is the co-founder of a few agriculture businesses — aka a “serial entrepreneur.” He’ll share his expertise April 10 as a judge in the 2014 Ag Springboard competition. 
 
We caught up with him to talk about the importance of helping student entrepreneurs. 
 
Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program (E&I): Tell us about the businesses you’ve started. 
 
Daniel Eichenlaub (DE): I founded Eichenlaub, a landscape design-build business, with my brothers more than 40 years ago. Our projects are 80 percent residential. The rest are specialty projects at country clubs and schools. We’ve worked at Fallingwater (the Frank Lloyd Wright house built over a waterfall that is now a National Historic Landmark).
 
I’m a cofounder of AgRecycle, Pennsylvania’s largest source-separated composting operation. 
 
Dan Stearns, CAS professor of landscape contracting, and I are co-founders of LandOpt, which brings business management processes to independent landscape contractors around the country.  
 
E&I: Do you have any new ventures in the works? 
 
DE: Today, my role is to help mentor others. My goal is, hopefully, that I’m done creating new businesses. I’m in a stage of life when I’m not going to go start something new and am just trying to create greater value in the operations I have.  
 
I say that, but a new idea may come along and it’s in our blood and we get excited about it. 
 
E&I: You graduated Penn State in 1978 with a degree in architectural engineering. How did you end up starting so many agricultural businesses? 
 
DE: I lived up near Ag Hill and the North residence halls, where there were a lot of Ag majors hanging around. My brothers and I started the landscape business to help pay our way through college, so we were always up there learning from Ag students.
 
I built buildings for a few years after graduation. It became apparent that there was an opportunity to develop a thriving landscape business, so that’s what we ended up doing. 
 
E&I: How have you helped coach aspiring entrepreneurs in agriculture? 
 
DE: Over the last few years I’ve given talks to some classes and helped vet ideas for the Ag Springboard competition. I was involved in the strategic planning for the College of Agricultural Sciences that led to the E&I 
program. 
 
E&I: You’re pretty busy as general manager of the Eichenlaub landscape company. Why is it important to make the time to coach future entrepreneurs? 
 
DE: There were times in my life when someone reached out and mentored me, and when I said “what can I do for you?” that person said to someday help someone who needs it.  
 
I think every entrepreneur has had that experience. I’ve always remembered that and as a result I’m very involved in professional communities like representing Penn State in a national group of land grant universities. 
 
It’s paying back what somebody gave to me. Pay it forward. 
 
E&I: What is the one, most important thing aspiring entrepreneurs should know or remember? 
 
DE: Perseverance is a must-have skill for an entrepreneur. But you don’t have to be the entrepreneur — you may work for a start-up and so it’s important to understand how these entities function. If you really have the right idea, sometimes if you just hang on it makes all the difference. That said, you have to know when to cut your losses, too, and let go.