Revitalizing Pleasants Landing was supposed to be “the fun retirement project” for Mike Vallerie when he bought the property at the east end of Lake Anna five years ago.
“We have run into unforeseen obstacles. However, we keep putting one foot in front of the other. I persevere,” Vallerie said recently.
“I saw Pleasants Landing as an opportunity to have a positive impact on an entire community of people. The foundation is laid.”
In the past two years the business has added several new features to the public, such as the Love the Lake Festival every third Sunday from June through September. Local farmers and artisans are invited to sell their products on-site. Food trucks are also part of the event, along with live music and games.
In 2021 there are plans to offer swim lessons for children, Vallerie said, noting that several people drowned on the lake this summer.
Local charities like Bumpass Volunteer Fire Department have also been invited to the scenic lakeside property to raise awareness of their services.
Vallerie has been his own boss since age 28. He worked as a truck driver and mechanic and operated his own trucking company in the Baltimore area before moving to Virginia in 2015.
“I found that I could accomplish much more if I was allowed to think for myself,” he said.
Vallerie takes pride in his employees, who he describes as his customers. His staff, in turn, takes care of people who visit the property.
Anyone looking to start their own business should first have ample experience working in different areas of the business world, Vallerie said.
“I would stress that you can’t rise to the top if you didn’t start at the bottom. Hence, a hands-on knowledge is essential. It is the foundation of success. You should never feel that starting at the bottom is beneath you. Take pride in everything you do. To take pride, you must do that job exceptionally well.”
Just as important, Vallerie said, is to deliver a good value to customers and to be a good communicator.
He wouldn’t necessarily encourage anyone to start their own business, however.
“It is an unfathomable amount of work and risk,” he said.
“The young, true entrepreneur will not need to be encouraged—he or she will be driven and just end up there. What I learned as a truck driver and as a mechanic enabled me to understand all of the facets of a particular small business. Without that knowledge I would not be where I am today.”