Forward Thinking

Tim Towers loves mowing grass and cannot see himself in a job where he just waits for quitting time. Instead, he claims to be unhappy when the last lawn of the day is wrapped up.

walker-talk-volume-44-9_2.pngThe owner of Grass Masters in Pasadena, Maryland, has plenty to keep him happy these days. He maintains 51 properties around Baltimore/ Washington International Airport, including a couple of nearby estates. Towers proudly admits to being a bit different from competitors who promote that they will beat anyone’s price. “After all,” Towers emphasizes, “they have it backwards. My motto is, ‘No Better Job at Any Price’.”

Sixteen homeowners on one street alone have bought into this man’s way of thinking, and they weren’t swayed by an exceptional marketing campaign either. In fact, Towers stopped using his single advertising tool (door hangers) two years ago. Neighbors see what he can do and ask him, “Can you mow my lawn, as well?”

Until recently, Towers’ answer has been a resounding “Yes!” But there’s a limit to how much one person can do in a day. After mowing lawns on and off since he was 13 years old, what this operator loves to do in the summer will now likely support him year-round without adding more accounts. “I’ve driven trucks during the winter for years,” Towers relates. “This winter, I won’t have to. But I still may want to work a couple of days a week while I wait for spring.”


Towers started seriously mowing lawns after high school, but gave his accounts to kid brother, Josh, in favor of pursuing a different career path for a couple of years. “I was making minimum wage training as a truck driver,” he recalls. “At one point, I was literally down to my last four dollars when a former customer called and asked if I could mow his lawn. Having my old mower and string trimmer, I agreed. I purchased 1-1/2 gallons of gas, mowed his lawn, and eventually mowed a couple of other ones on his street.”

The following year, in the spring of 2011, Josh decided to be a plumber and returned most of his accounts to his brother. Again, Towers was doing something he enjoyed. Still, the jury was out. He had been entertaining the thought of becoming a plumber like his uncle and brother, or even driving truck full time. Both would eventually pay well, but he thought mowing could be just as lucrative, not to mention, of course, he wouldn’t be watching the clock either.

With the help of door hangers and word of mouth, accounts grew to 25. To minimize steps and save time, he purchased a 32-inch Hustler mid-size mower with a dual-wheel sulky to complement his John Deere walk mower.

walker-talk-volume-44-10_1.png“I liked the Hustler, but it didn’t collect grass clippings, and most of my customers wanted the clippings bagged,” Towers notes. “So I visited my dealer to see about getting a riding mower that could bag. We debated the merits of this mower and that mower until he finally became frustrated with me and simply said, ‘The best-cutting mower is a Walker Mower.’ He told me that even though he didn’t sell them. I was impressed.”

Extreme Mowing

Towers recalls seeing a Walker Mower years ago when he was still in school and mowing lawns on the side. “It didn’t look like any mower I had ever seen before. In fact, I thought it was a fertilizer applicator.” After being prompted by his dealer, he visited the Walker Manufacturing website and found the model he wanted, a 26-hp MT with a 48-inch GHS deck. He purchased a used one with 209 hours.

“There’s nothing else on the market like it,” Towers relates. “The steering is precise, and even with a 48-inch deck the mower is so maneuverable. Like advertised, the deck floats, and the way it tilts up is a lifesaver, especially in tough mowing conditions.”

walker-talk-volume-44-8_1.pngIt didn’t take long for him to demonstrate the last feature. His first stop was at a bi-weekly mowing account. Since it had been raining for the last two weeks, the grass was very high and wet. The conditions were daunting, or as Towers puts it, “probably the worst I’ve ever seen.” He mowed it while collecting a half dozen bags of wet, soggy grass, and stopped twice to clear the underside of the deck. “Imagine doing this with a mid-mount,” he remarks.

Grass Masters also has weekly and casual customers. Bi-weekly customers receive a bill at the first of each month for two mowings. Others get billed at month’s end.

“Since it doesn’t usually rain like this and summers are dry, bi-weekly mowing works well around here,” says Towers. “The frequency makes mowing affordable for my older customers, and frankly, I don’t enjoy mowing a lawn that doesn’t need mowing.”

Still, many customers want their lawns mowed every week, no matter what. Mildred Woutten, 88, is one of them. Towers first mowed her lawn when her husband became ill four years ago, and continued mowing it after he passed away.

“I’m fussy about my lawn and Tim takes real good care of it,” says Mrs. Woutten. “He’s very accommodating and always in a good mood.” She reciprocates by fixing him lunch. Another customer down the street follows up with a high-energy dessert, a giant candy bar. Special treats aside, it’s a good gig to have, and the majority of the properties can be mowed without even moving the truck and trailer.

Towers explains that lawns in the neighborhood measure approximately 85 feet wide and 200 feet deep. Most will accommodate his Walker Mower. For those with small gates that can’t, he employs a 30-inch Toro walkbehind. “The Walker Mower does such a good job picking up leaves that for some properties it pays for me to remove the deck, drive the tractor through the gate, and then reattach it,” he relates. “Of course, it’s not practical to do this for mowing, and the Toro does a good job, too.”

In addition to mowing, Grass Masters edges and trims properties along with providing seasonal maintenance services, including aeration and seeding. Towers points to the narrow edge that lines the sidewalk. “I trim close to the sidewalk so the edge doesn’t keep expanding,” he remarks. “You know, it’s not just highend residential and estate customers who appreciate a lawn with beautiful lines and a manicured look. Others will, as well.”

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