Husbands and Wives share more than Life Experiences

For Liz and Grant Monette in Guelph, Ontario and Bessie and Mike Krsovan in nearby Waterloo, being married is more than sharing a life, it's sharing an occupation, too. Both couples operate landscaping companies. 

Liz and Grant have been married 15 years and today operate New Method Lawn and Garden, a nine year-old full-service landscaping company. Bessie and Mike are celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary this year, 11 of which have been spent operating Classic Lawn and Garden Maintenance.

As one would imagine, both companies are unique, yet they also share several common bonds. On the unique or different side, New Method Lawn & Garden maintains primarily commercial properties; Classic Lawn and Garden is primarily residential. Both companies, however, run lean and mean, both complement their operations with Walker mowers, and both rely heavily on respective spouses to get the work done.

walker-talk-volume-10_1-13_11.jpgLiz and Grant Monette perform full-service maintenance on 14 large commercial properties, several residential properties, a number of smaller commercial properties and a couple of softball fields. In total, they mow approximately 25 acres of lawn a week with only one crew comprised of the husband and wife team and three seasonal employees.

Like most owner/operators, the Monettes are personally involved on every property they maintain. And so are the Krsovans. Bessie and Mike operate two crews: Bessie leads one with one employee; Mike heads up the other, again with one employee. Together, the two crews are responsible for maintaining 97 residential properties and 15 commercial properties weekly.

What are the benefits of working together, day in and day out? As Grant points out, "We get to spend a lot of time together." Although he adds, it's not all quality time because work is work.

On the positive side for both couples is an implicit confidence in their partner's abilities and they enjoy the ongoing discourse about work and work-related challenges. On the negative side for the Monettes at least is their inability to escape the discourse. During the mowing season, they work seven days a week, mowing the large factories and other commercial properties on weekends.

Bessie and Mike Krsovan recently changed their mode of operation so they could spend weekends at a cottage 1-1/2 hours away. For them, the challenge is to get the work done between dawn and dusk, which makes for long days during the week.

As all owner/operators can relate, there's more to a lawn maintenance business than mowing and installation. Liz and Bessie maintain the books while Grant and Mike maintain the equipment. There are other responsibilities, as well, including selecting nursery stock, bidding new properties, customer communication and overall keeping the business at a profitable level.

The Walker Connection

walker-talk-volume-10_1-14_11.jpgNew Method Lawn and Landscape purchased its first Walker 8 years ago. At the time they were doing condominiums and needed a mower with more maneuverability.

"We went to the dealer who showed us the mower," Liz explains. "Since it was behind some pallets of seed we told the dealer we could come back later. But he just jumped on the machine, turned it around on a dime and brought it over to us. I knew right then it was the mower for us. ,

Today, the company operates two 20-hp Walkers, each with a GHS and side discharge deck. Liz and Grant both say they enjoy the flip up deck and additional safety features on their new Walkers, but it's the machine's maneuverability and ability to handle grass clippings in tight places that originally sold them, and still sells them.

"How many machines can you operate with two fingers?" asks Liz. As far as clippings go, it's the Walker's compact size, even with the grass catcher, that really makes the machine stand apart from others, she emphasizes. The collection system is a special fall bonus in Guelph, she adds, a city known for its trees.

In addition to the two Walker mowers, New Method employs a Walker sweeper, aerator and tine attachment.

This equipment is complemented by a new John Deere 855 tractor for wide area mowing and Toro mid-size walk-behinds for steep hills, with which the large factory properties are well endowed.

"We think the machines are a perfect match," say Liz and Grant Monette, something they might liken to their own relationship. They met in forestry school, worked in northern Canada together for the forestry service, and eventually settled in Guelph, closer to their roots. 

The Monettes think similarly when it comes to many things, including operating a landscaping business. They put an emphasis on detail work and continually make an all out effort to communicate with all of their customers. They even plow snow together in the tough Canadian winters. Will they grow the business together? Says Grant, 'We never thought we would get this big. It's easy to grow but difficult to maintain the quality."

walker-talk-volume-10_1-13_1.jpgApproximately 15 miles up the road in Waterloo, Bessie and Mike Krsovan operate two diesel Walkers with one 48-inch deck, two 42-inch GHS decks and two 54-inch side discharge decks.

Bessie has one Walker with her crew (always the newest one, she adds with a smile) and Mike has the other. They also own two single stage snow throwers.

While Liz admired the Walker's maneuverability, Mike says he was amazed by the light weight of the mowing deck. "I couldn't believe how light it was when I picked it up," he emphasizes.

The couple purchased their first mower in 1993. The next one followed a year later because, as Bessie explains, her crew with the Walker was more profitable than Mike's crew without the Walker. The addition of the larger side-discharge decks later further improved profitability by allowing the company to eliminate one person. "Even today," says Bessie, "if we can mow a property with a Walker, it will cost us less." 

With the exchange rate and additional taxes, Walker mowers are far from inexpensive in Canada. But that hasn't stopped these two couples from buying what they consider to be a quality mowing system. "If you buy something, buy the best," say Mike and Bessie. "Because you really can't afford to buy more than one." 

Liz and Grant agree, adding "You have to stick with something when it treats you well. Price isn't everything."

Also adding to their bottom line, say the Krsovans, is the diesel power which cuts back on maintenance and fuel costs. They estimate using only 45 gallons of diesel fuel a month between both machines, and paying nearly 80 cents per gallon less than they would pay for gasoline. Mike also reduced headaches and inevitable downtime by injecting a rubberized foam in the mowers' tires. They haven't had a flat since.


Each morning, Bessie and Mike start at different ends of town and work their crews toward each other, mowing 10 to 12 properties a day. At the end of the day, if one crew is finished before the other, it simply helps pick up the slack until all properties are finished. Two days during the week, they team up to maintain the larger residential properties.

Team work is the name of the game for the Monettes and the Krsovans. Both couples give plenty of credit to their crew members who, as Bessie quickly points out, "work with them and not for them." And after living and working together for so many years, communication and having faith in each other is nearly a given. Both are requisites, of course, for any successful marriage and also serve as a great foundation for a working relationship.

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