View Full Version : Howdy

01-15-2009, 10:11 AM
Well thats not really how I talk but being from Texas and the Bid D, most people expect to hear that at least once. And Yes I do have a horse. Two in fact. Twister and Thunder. What can I say, it keeps my wife happy and isn't that what it's all about?

2009 will be my 4th year in business for myself. I stepped out of the corporate cubicle for mental and physical health reasons.(ever seen the movie Office Space?)
What happened was I bought some property about 14 acres east of dallas of I-30 back in 2000. My plan was simply to live in the country but close enough to commute to the city. So after we got all our finances in order we moved an RV out to the property and lived in it while we built the house. Meaning that with the help from a friend we sub'd everything out. Trim wise, I did everything that I could inside and out but all the major construction was sub'd.

After that I was on my own. I had to build a barn, A pipe rail fence, gates. I had to irrigate , landscape and mow. I'm talking major mowing. Of the 14 acres I ended up with about 3 acres of mowing. Not all of it irrigated but it grows quite well regardless. Its wierd bermuda-like grass grows naturally out here. I've never put down sod or seed.

So In the end I found out that I love working outdoors. Im pretty clever and resourseful. So I felt that I could make as good or better living working for my self instead of commuting or even working out of the house in the IT business.

I started out building wood and ornamental steel fences. I also became pretty well known for other ornamental steel work. But my desire was landscaping. I picked up a few mowing jobs. I did some irrigation work for friends. With the help of a landscaper I've known for years, I sold and designed a handfull of landscape jobs. I also learned to properly trim trees. There are a lot of Live Oaks in this area and you can make good money trimming those. They are very easy and turn out excellent if you know what you are doing.

Last year we started a Mowing route. My stepson returned from the coast guard and he wanted to work with me/for himself. We put together a rig and by the end of the year (2008. We have 4 full day route. A 50/50 mix of residential and commercial. Of the residential about half are contract the other half are seasonal. I only worked on the route as backup not very often. The rest of the time I was doing landscape installs.

By the end of September my stepson decided this wasn't for him. I could tell he wasn't into it. He showed up everyday but I began to notice quality issues that would not happen if he thought his company depended on it. Also he wasn't the salesman I took him for. I know he sold me a few times when he was a teen.

So we ended the partnership and thats all good. I've been maintaining all the contract jobs this winter and am anxiously waiting for March. I am going maintenance full time. When a landscape job comes along, I'll deal with it but at it stands we are maintenance.

I sold all those jobs last year. I can't say it wasn't hard but I didn't spend all my time selling either. And I didn't spend a lot money promoting. So I figure if all I do is bid and promote the work will continue to come it and I'll continue to grow at a reasonable pace.

I did a bid in October for an HOA and got it. We started in December. So we're off to a good start for the new year.

Rig 1 consists of
2 - toro 21's
Scag 36" wB
Scag 61" TT
Echo or Redmax everything 2 stroke.
Pulled by a 03 ford excab long bed.

wish me luck.

01-15-2009, 03:19 PM
Hi Tom,

Welcome to our forum! You have a great story!

2009 will be my 4th year in business for myself. I stepped out of the corporate cubicle for mental and physical health reasons.(ever seen the movie Office Space?)

I think what you went through is similar to what a lot of other people find themselves dealing with but you did it! That is the big difference. You made it happen, while most of us never do it because we are terrified of what might happen.

Because you did indeed break out and unplug if you will from the matrix (matrix movie reference ;) ) can you share with all of us what you mentally went through and how you found the courage to break from the mainstream and go your own path?

This forum is all about that and I am sure many people read this forum and just never actually make the break. They dream about it, but they don't take that step. Can you share with us how you did it? Where did you find the determination and drive to do it? What advice do you have for others pondering this topic?

01-16-2009, 09:26 AM
I never thought of being an inpsiring story but I guess a lot people find themselves in a similar situation.

I would like to tell you that I came up with a transitional plan and executed it. I had a plan alright but it took an unexpected turn.

My wife was 100% behind me. She knew I was miserable working so many hours. When VPN technology came around I was able to setup a home office and not commute near as much but all that did was add more hours to my day. She did not want to return to the rat race though. We weren't confident that her home based book keeping could be built up to support us while I did a startup. We had so much to loose so the risk factor was a big issue.

One night she literally sat up in bed and and said "I got it". She had an idea where she could stay at home and have a secure income while I start up my busisess. "Daycare" I'm serious, she wanted to startup a daycare business from our home. I didn't think it would work but she ran the numbers and convinced me that not only it would support us but also it would fill up instantly.

So we converted the 3 car garage into a play school. A very nice playschool. We aslo built a play ground outside and secured it with a fence.

I won't go into that anymore other than to say that it worked just as planned. We ran it for over 3 years and it was a wonderful experience. We still get to see some of the kids that we helped raise and neither of us regret it for a minute.

So now we've got that in place and I'm working on a way to get myself laid off. I mentioned that movie office space. If you haven't seen it, its really funny and I am that guy. I don't care anymore.

About that time this little 4 foot lady took over our department. I thought it was a great move for the company to promote her to director after the old nazi retired. I had known her for a few years but what I did and what the other programmers did was way different. They all worked on the point of sale application that ran our whole company. What I did was a webbased appplication that we sold to contractors. Anyway when she took over they pulled me into her department. One day I woke up and sat at my desk. The VPN was down. So I tried to get in from another direction and it was down.

No biggie I'm going in today. I got to work and I couldn't get in to any of my stuff. I went to the tech and said WTF man what's going on. He said to go see little B. She informed me that my home office days where over. I was also now part of the point of sale/inventory team blah blah blah.

I finally nailed her down to what she was up to. She asked if I remembered 4 years earlier when I came to her requesting data for a project. She told me she only had time for part of it and my response was 'okay but this is for (president of the company). She had been harboring ill feeling for me for 4 years. The very day she took over she sought revenge.

That set off an series of events that I can only describe as insane. Really I think I completely lost my mind. As a result I got fired over being 5mins late after two warnings.

On the way home I got a phone call. One of my best friends who was a code inspector was shot dead serving a code violation citation. That took my mind off it to say the least.

Within a few miniutes my phone rang again. A friend of mine is a landscaper and he knew what I was about to do. We had talked about it extensively and he was going to help me with whatever I needed. Anyway he said listen I'm on this big job in shreveport. If you can take some vaction time and come here and help run this job.

The rest is history.

From that job we did several more where I got some excellent experience how to and how not to run a landscape business.

Oh and the day care. Once my income was sufficient we closed it down. The play school is now our business office and my wife's book keeping business is booming.

01-16-2009, 04:12 PM
That is a very inspiring story! Thank you!

Now here you are, running your lawn care business. You are way ahead of many of our forum readers who are considering making this jump. Can you share with us any advice of what you would do again and what you would do differently to get your lawn care business started up faster and get customers faster? Also what marketing worked the best and the fastest?

01-16-2009, 08:01 PM
you know you can throw a stick and hit someone with advise on advertising. It seems door hangers consistantly dominate that.

One of my wife's old friends started a company a few years back. It's a pet lounge. As in daycare for dogs and cats. She has 5 or 6 stores now in high end neighborhoods. She is Very successful. She gave me some advise that has proven to be as important as anything else that I've done. Chamber of Commerce, rotory club and any other civic group you can join is a great way to get your name out to the right people. I followed her advice. The Mayor Pro tem (sp) of our town seemed to notice me and she promotes me like crazy. There is house warmers that lets you put something in a welcome package to new residents. That in and of itself has been fruitful, but more inportant the people involved with housewarmers are Movers and shakers. I've joined a breakfast club for small business owners. Became a member for the main street commity. Trust me everyone knows who i am and it has been worth it.

Next is perception. I am proud of what I do and if you were to meet me on the street and ask what I do... "I own a landscape company, let me tell you about it."

01-16-2009, 09:33 PM
That is fantastic! Which groups or organizations do you enjoy most and why so do you think?

There is house warmers that lets you put something in a welcome package to new residents

What kind of advice do you have on what to give new residents?

01-17-2009, 08:56 AM
That is fantastic! Which groups or organizations do you enjoy most and why so do you think?

I consider the chamber to be essential. You do have to engage and participate in the events.

What kind of advice do you have on what to give new residents?

I feel it has to include a gift of some sort. Thats really the spirit of HouseWarmers. We put in business card magnets and a single "OFF" towlet.

01-17-2009, 03:59 PM
Oh great!

As you look ahead what goals are you looking forwards to achieve? How big of an operation would you like to run and would you like to expand into any services you are not offering now?