Student captures second in business contest

Andrew Friesen might be one of the district’s next business leaders.
Friesen, 15, recently placed second in the northern regional section of the Ontario Secondary School Business Plan Competition for his business, “Sunset Country Silviculture.”
“It’s about a tree-planting company, where you contact private property owners to see if they would like trees planted on their property,” Friesen explained last week.
“Then you discuss with [the owners] what kind of trees, how many per hector, and you come up with a plan on how you’re going to do it,” the 10th-grader added.
Friesen said he came up with the idea from a round-the-table discussion at supper time, though giving most of the credit to his younger brother for initiating the idea for his plan.
Once he started making phone calls and doing plenty of research for the project, Friesen said he learned a lot about the financial implications of operating a business.
“It was difficult mainly because [my business] is different from other companies which deal more with Crown licenses,” he noted. “But since mine was private property, there is different costs involved.”
Friesen also noted he learned some important life lessons, too.
“I learned you have to take risks and stick with your idea,” he remarked. “You’re going to be in the hole at the start [but] if it works out in the end, you’re a long ways a head.”
Friesen participated in the contest as part of his entrepreneur class at the Sturgeon Creek Alternative Program in Stratton, where the entries were submitted last May to be judged among others from the region.
“We probably spent a good couple of months on the project,” Friesen estimated, noting the statistics, graphs, and diagrams that were included in the 50-page report.
Friesen won first place there, earning $1,000, with his classmates, Brandon Olsen and Kory DeGroot, placing second and third, respectively. All three were able to go to the awards banquet in Minaki back in June.
After the local competition, Friesen’s business plan was submitted for review by the northern regional section, which includes Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.
As announced by the provincial government in Sault Ste. Marie earlier this month, Friesen placed second, receiving a cheque for $750. If he had placed first, he would have been eligible to compete for the provincial honour.
Leah Reimer of Sudbury was the provincial winner after placing first in the northern regional section.
“I told him it’s pretty difficult to beat the provincial winner,” said Friesen’s mother, Olive.
“I think his finished product is something more like what a university or college student would produce, not a ninth-grader,” she enthused. “So, of course I’m very proud of him.”
However, Olive Friesen indicated she was a little worried about the pressure placed on her son since his older sister, Heidi, had placed first in the same contest—the northern regional section—two years ago.
“I just wanted to do my best and I’m happy with the results,” Andrew Friesen said.
While Friesen said he is an outdoors kind of person, he isn’t convinced he’ll be going into the tree-planting business in the future.
“I definitely don’t want an office job,” he said, noting he likely will own some sort of business one day. “But tree-planting is pretty rugged, so I’m not sure yet.”
However, with so many options available to him in the future, Friesen said he is grateful for this experience.
“I developed courage so I could talk to people higher up in companies and businesses,” he remarked. “It will also help with job interviews, too, because I understand what goes on in a business.”
Along with his academic strengths proven through his “business plan” awards, Friesen also is a keen athlete—recently placing 58th in the five-km distance at the Minnesota state cross-country meet.