[Entrepreneurs Impact 13] Journey Virgil Niekoop

Childhood of Virgil Niekoop

Virgil Niekoop was born on January 9, 1981, in Paramaribo, Suriname. His father, Mario Niekoop, worked at the Hospital (A.Z.), and his mother, Carmen Niekoop-Veldkamp, worked at the insurance company Assuria, formerly known as NEN. Virgil has a sister, Serafija Niekoop, who was crowned Miss Suriname in 1999. The bond between Virgil and his sister is very harmonious, and they always support each other, no matter what. 

Virgil describes his childhood as very good and peaceful. He was raised in a complete family where his parents were always together. Virgil grew up on Joerawanstraat in Uitvlugt, which was an intimate community (close-knit). He often visited his grandparents at Reeberg (Reeberg is situated near the village Koewarasan in Suriname), which he always looked forward to. At Reeberg, his grandfather was involved in livestock farming and planted Brazilian papaya, which he was the first to introduce in Suriname. Virgil was partly raised by his paternal grandmother, Grandma Ilse Niekoop, who lived in Limesgracht. He spent part of his youth with her as well. Some highlights of his childhood include prankish playful activities he engaged in at the Rodastreet, such as transferring fish from the gutter to his father’s aquarium and catching birds. During New Year’s, chicks were also cruelly killed with firecrackers. But these were all typical childhood activities in which he engaged.

At Bernadette School, he was quite a difficult (troublesome) boy and didn’t receive the attention he truly needed. He was seen more as a difficult child seeking attention, which was perceived as troublesome by the teachers at the school. At a young age, Virgil experienced bullying at school he was placed in the “slow” row by the teachers instead of being treated like everyone else. This led to him seeing a psychologist as a young boy. The psychologist provided the necessary support, even visiting the school and informing the teachers of the pedagogical skills that needed to be applied. Despite some improvements, there were still issues with the director of the school. As a precautionary measure from the psychologist, Virgil was transferred to Petunia School. There, the treatment was more pleasant, because as a child, he finally received the attention and support he needed at school. This resulted in him completing classes from the fifth grade of GLO to NATIN, where Virgil studied Land Surveying.

His Impact

Every weekend while Virgil was a 15-year-old NATIN student, he worked by mowing his neighbors’ gardens. He gathered his school buddies every weekend to work together and earn money because he loved to maintain gardens. Virgil continued to attend school and did this on the weekends and vacations for four years. Virgil requested his mother’s permission to take a year off from school after finishing NATIN so he could explore what he could accomplish with gardening. After working once a week for his own money, now 23 years later, he is a master of his field.

It all began for Virgil as a young boy, maintaining his own garden at home, until a neighbor asked him to do hers too. After completing the work, he was rewarded with 1.50 guilders. At the time, that was worth a lot. This reward inspired Virgil that by mowing verges and maintaining gardens, he could earn his own money, so he began mowing verges for neighbors. The payments ranged from 2.50 guilders to 3 guilders, and the most he ever received was 9.50 guilders. In addition to earning money, Virgil was also inspired by his late Guru, his uncle Hesdy Veldkamp. He was fascinated by the way his uncle designed gardens. Uncle Hesdy inspired Virgil by giving him a brushcutter at the time. From a young age, Virgil’s motto was ‘ease serves humanity,’ and he differentiated himself from other gardeners by completely clearing away all weeds and leaving the gardens or verges completely neat and organized. That was the inspiration for Virgil to start a cleaning company, where he would tell his clients to sit back, relax, and work until the customer’s satisfaction was fully achieved. He goes the extra mile to satisfy his customers.

Virgil’s Gardening has recently undergone a name change and is now operating under the name Virgil’s Landscaping. The services encompassed by landscaping are quite extensive, and over the years, Virgil Niekoop has expanded his operations. They now offer various services such as garden architecture, earthmoving, planting, delivery of sand types, tree pruning, heavy equipment rental, and more.

Growth through experience

Virgil’s main goal was to generate publicity in order to increase the popularity of his business. Branding every business equipment in his possession the same color was one of his strategies. This helps differentiate Virgil’s Gardening cars and trucks from others because of their orange-yellow color. The company’s achievements are also related to the way its colors and brand have been seen over time. This presents his abilities and creates a unique brand for him in the community. Getting 600 clients in a month was one of the highlights of Virgil’s Landscaping experience. Since COVID certain tasks have shifted, so there is now less garden maintenance and more focus on heavy equipment as part of the expansion of the business. Another growth aspect that came over the years is that currently, Virgil’s Landscaping has about 30 employees.

Finding and attracting the right employees to provide the same quality of work for which Virgil’s Gardening is known for has proven to be one of the company’s challenges. It has been discovered that sometimes the given work does not meet the company’s criteria for quality. Another unpleasant work-related incident that Virgil experienced was breaking his nose when a tree branch fell on his neck when he was chopping it. On another occasion a little miscalculation led to damage to a customer’s roof. He was compelled by all of this to obtain accident insurance coverage for the business but never gave up his faith.

Closing Remarks Virgil

Golden Rule: Trust your abilities, have faith in yourself, and pay attention to your instincts. Try to surround yourself with people who have experience in your sector or who can teach you a lot after you’ve made a decision. Remain consistent in your decisions and make an effort to be honest at all times. Always invest in your business; it is what looks out for you. Don’t spend money on unnecessary things like luxury before investing in your company. If you are depending on human resources necessitates possessing a certain charisma and being understanding at all times. If you have employees, it’s important that you ensure their well-being and make sure they get paid before you and your fixed costs. Virgil also shares that it is important to have values as a person and stay true to yourself, your values and boundaries, even when doing business.

Entrepreneurs Impact

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