Owners of successful lawn and landscape maintenance companies have at least one common bond. They will tell you there is no shortcut to the top.
After trying it both ways, my father, Max Walker, likes to say, "I'd rather have my own hamburger stand than be part of McDonald's." It's not that there aren't advantages to being associated with a big, stable organization. There are. But there also are distinct advantages to independent businesses.
Roland Wenig is a late bloomer in the lawn maintenance business. He hung his shingle when he was 42 years old. Ten years later, he has no regrets about his career choice.
Not many lawn pros can gross better than $25,000 in their spare time. But that's what Dennis Sloan, owner of Sloan Landscape Maintenance, Ardmore, Oklahoma, did last year. This sixth grade science teacher did it with two Walker mowers, 20 residential accounts and virtually no help. Sounds like a lot of work for a part-time job? It is, notes Sloan, but not nearly as much as it used to be.
The zero-tum commercial riding mower was introduced in the late 1960s, early 1970s. Over the last 25 years, these highly maneuverable machines have been gaining market share as evidenced by the number of manufacturers producing them today and the large number of machines operating on properties. In fact, the OPEl (Outdoor Power Equipment Institute) reports that almost half of the commercial riding mowers sold during 1993 were transmission steer (lever steering) zero-tum type machines.
There's more to mowing lawns than meets the eye. If you don't think so, just sit down for a day and talk with the Corbetts, Craig and Natalie. Owners of Mowin' Ranger, Tremonton, Utah, this husband and wife team has been mowing lawns since the early '80s. Like so many lawn maintenance companies, where they are today and where they came from is as different as night and day. The Corbetts, however, are unique in terms of how they made the trip.