Wanish Sugar Bush’s Founder Proves That Entrepreneurship Has No Age Limit

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Entrepreneurship has no minimum age requirement, as Wanish founder Sugar Bush is proving. Initially, the teenager started his business at just 15 years old with the help of his family. And now, he’s ready to make it his full-time job after graduation. Read about their journey and their unique offerings in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What does the business do?

Offering 100% pure maple syrup and maple sugar in Northwest Wisconsin.

Founder Will Wanish told Small Business Trends, “Right now, I offer half pints, pints, and quarts to both individuals and stores. Also, for about a year now, I’ve been producing maple sugar, which is a unique thing to add in recipes, as a topping or as a coffee sweetener.

Business niche

Started by a 15 year old.

“Now as an 18-year-old high school graduate, I’m excited to make this my full-time job. We produce A LOT of maple syrup compared to the competition and with just the help of family.”

How the business started

Helping the family.

“I started helping my uncle when I was 13; produces maple syrup as a hobby. I really liked it and wanted to start my own business. So, in 2019, I told my parents about my dreams – they made me make a list of the necessary equipment and what I needed. I secured a $30,000 loan from a local regional business fund, bought equipment, and built my syrup shed. Every year, we’ve doubled production and we’re looking forward to our new deck and equipment arriving in 2023.”

Biggest victory

Achieving some local recognition.

“For 2022, I was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Momentum West, an organization that covers a large part of northwest Wisconsin. It means that even as a young entrepreneur, people recognize the hard work that I’ve done in my business so far and the success I’ve had.”

The biggest challenge

Pivot during the pandemic.

“When COVID hit, we had to change the way we were going to sell our syrup or we would have been out of business. So we got the license, made a wholesale price list and went door to door to local grocers to sell syrup as needed. Today we are in about 150 stores throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota.”

The biggest risk

Invest in new equipment.

“Currently I have taken the biggest risk in my business; I have ordered a new evaporator and reverse osmosis machine to grow in 2023 and beyond. This requires a huge investment from me and my parents; the end result is that it will position me for the future.”

lesson learned

Plan for future growth.

“If I could redo anything, it would be to build a bigger facility the first time. Now, we’re already adding the syrup and it’s only been there for three years. It would have made more sense to build it bigger than we needed at the time so that we would be ready for growth and not have to invest that money now.”

How they would spend an extra $100,000

Ensure necessary supplies.

“With the shortage of glass bottles and caps, I would buy as much as I could with the $100,000, which would allow me to have everything I need for the next year or two without worrying if it will be in stock.”

Company mascot

A nice dog.

“My company mascot is Maple, my yellow lab; she just turned one and is the hottest thing on our social media.”

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Image: Wanish Sugar Bush, Will Wanish

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