Mitch Mestancik is one of a small but growing number of local cleantech entrepreneurs whose pollution solutions are putting green in the bank.
Mestancik is the owner of Sarnia’s first emissions-free lawn maintenance company. The fleet of battery-powered lawn mowers and trimmers at Electricut does the work of gas-powered equivalents but are cleaner and quieter with a lower input cost.
“It makes business sense. It costs me less money to do it that way… without having to buy gasoline and do all the (oil-related) maintenance,” said Mestancik, 26. “My dad jokes, even conservatives can get behind this.”
The Northern Collegiate grad launched the business four years ago with the specific goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. To fund the venture, he cashed in his Tesla stock (bought at $30 and sold at $230 a share).
Electricut has one other employee. Like other lawn care companies it offers grass cutting and edging, yard cleanup, and hedge and tree trimming. But the equipment, from trimmers to a riding mower, all runs on batteries that, when not in use, draw charge from solar panels fixed atop the service trailer’s roof.
But cleaner, greener startup businesses are still uncommon in Sarnia and that needs to change, says Christopher Misch, who has launched two companies devoted to renewable energy design and electric car charging stations.
“Sarnia is really behind the times on this. A lot of municipalities installed charging stations … eight years ago and they’re expanding them,” said Misch, CEO and founder of Green Dot Group and Chargequest Inc.
“This isn’t a trend. This is real. This is happening.”
Misch is a member of the Sarnia-Lambton Workforce Development Board and one of the founders of the downtown co-working space, Collide.
Starting more green businesses requires spreading the word about opportunities in cleantech and build an environment for mentorship, he said.
After recently declaring a climate emergency in Sarnia, city council is also considering ways to reduce carbon emissions.
For example, city councillors George Vandenberg and Mike Stark recently pushed to have an electric-powered bus and emergency vehicles added to the municipal fleet.
“We come from a petrochemical background. People have always had a household member that made very good money in that industry,” said Misch. “But I think we’re seeing a shift.”