Skip to main content

WNC Business

Maintaining Work/Play Balance to Prevent Burnout

Sep 01, 2022 03:03PM ● By Craig Fender

Eighteen years ago, when my wife and I found out we were pregnant with our first child, I became a small business owner for the first time. The business was called Craig’s Landscaping, and it was mine for seven years before I sold it to start a tree service called Asheville Arborists. I helped run that business for another seven years before being bought out by my business partner. After that, I started my third and current business, Asheville Landscaping LLC, which handles almost everything related to landscaping including tree removal & pruning, tree planting, landscape installation, property clean-ups, boulder walls, and hardscapes.

My business philosophy has always been to do good work and to be a problem-solver for our clients. This priority comes first, above any potential profit we may make off a project. I believe that this philosophy is what has allowed my businesses to succeed.

While there has been success, I’ve seen my companies both grow and shrink over the years for various reasons. Our most recent change was scaling back due to COVID. Since then, we have decided to maintain a smaller-sized company in an effort to manage less stress. This allows our focus to be solely on providing our clientele the best service possible.

One of the reasons that I chose to build my career and my life here in Western North Carolina is that I enjoy the natural beauty of the land. Spending time outdoors is what helps to keep me grounded, so it’s great that I get to work and play outside. I try to take time almost every week to get out and play, as often as my schedule allows.

The pandemic’s effects on my business helped to push me back into river paddling on a regular basis. I spend a lot of time paddling around WNC, and I find that these rivers help to clear my mind of stress. They also help me to stay focused on positive thoughts and what’s truly important in this life. When the rain shuts down my business for the day, I can often see that as a blessing and just go paddling. 

I am also very passionate about live music. I believe that we have one of the best music scenes on the entire east coast! Not only do we get a ton of nationally touring acts that visit Asheville, but we also have an incredible amount of local talent. Some of my favorite local bands are the Travers Brothership, Brushfire Stankgrass, Josh Phillips, Empire Strikes Brass, and Acoustic Syndicate.

I am also a long time active member of the south Asheville Rotary Club. There are so many wonderful people in our community, and giving back to the community that I love so much is really satisfying. We meet for breakfast at the Biltmore Park clubhouse every Wednesday morning from 7:30~8:30 am, and I enjoy the meeting and the networking every week.

I find that this work/play balance does help to prevent burnout in my business. Taking time to enjoy the outdoors and other activities that I love certainly helps to reduce my overall stress level. This keeps me feeling fresh while living the inevitable hectic life of a small business owner. When I can take the time for myself, I find that I am more excited for my next day of work. I walk out of the door with a smile on my face, and it stays there all day long. 

Craig Fender has lived in Western North Carolina since 1998 and has over twenty years experience working in the green industry. He resides in south Asheville with his wife Amy and their two children. Craig is very passionate about landscaping and working outdoors. He is service minded and is an active member of the South Asheville Rotary Club and enjoys giving back to the community that he loves. In his spare time he enjoys hiking, camping, boating, listening to live music and spending quality time with his friends and family.