In 1998, when Andrew was 10, I thought it might be a good idea to help him start a neighborhood lawn mowing business so he’d have something worthwhile to do during the summer.
I created a flyer with his photo, along with pricing and contact information, and we distributed it around the neighborhood. The result? Nothing. No responses. I was really disappointed. So I decided that a lawn mowing business probably wasn’t in his future.
Then in 2003 my nephew Nick called me at the office one day in early Spring and asked if I would hire him to mow the lawn there. I thought about it for a moment and then made a quick decision. I thanked him for his offer, and then told him that Andrew was doing it. The lawn mowing business was back on.
Andrew and I began looking for a mower and trailer. We found a small used walk-behind commercial mower, made by Ferris, with a 36″ wide deck. We also found a small 6’x8′ trailer, and I had a hitch installed on my Ford Explorer so we could tow it around. When Michael got wind or our project, he wanted in, and I was happy to include him. One of them (Michael I think) came up with the name “Brothers Mowing” and thus began their lawn mowing business. Not too long after that, I convinced them to change the name to “Clean Cut Lawn Care”. It seemed like a great name (also reflecting their clean lifestyle), but a year or so later a man in Akron called me to complain that he had been using the name for his business for some time, so we dropped it.
Since neither boy could drive in the beginning, I had to help out by driving them to their jobs. It didn’t take long to find a few customers – some by word of mouth, and others through advertising in the local paper. We also tried creating a flyer and attaching it to people’s mailboxes. This seemed to get virtually no response, however, which I found frustrating.
I enjoyed taking them to their jobs. In the beginning, I would help them out a little, but as time went on they got better and needed less help from me. I would sometimes just walk around the neighborhood while they worked. The Ferris mower wasn’t the best. It seemed to break down quite often and some of the controls just didn’t work very well, but we kept it going.
A year or so later, Andrew got his driver’s license and then I bought a truck for him. I still remember watching with mixed feelings as he drove off on his own for the first time to do a job. Somewhere around that time, Michael lost interest in the business so Andrew was now on his own.
I must confess that I had no idea at the time that mowing would become Andrew’s lifelong passion and career, and for a few years tried to steer him toward other things. He did venture a little bit into other areas, but kept coming back to the lawncare business. After he graduated from high school, Andrew worked for a couple of landscaping companies — one small and one large — which really helped him gain some valuable experience. To supplement his income, he also worked for Jimmy Johns, HH Gregg and Best Buy. During all this, he kept his own business going, changing the name to “AJ’s” mowing, then “Earth ‘n Turf”, and now “E&T Lawn and Landscape”.
Andrew loves the lawncare business and the independence it has brought. His base of steady clients has gradually grown from a small handful to nearly 40 today, and he’s had to turn prospective clients away. Plus he has numerous side job requests. He’s gone from small used mowers to the largest and best mowers available. He went from one small open trailer to multiple trailers including a large enclosed one, and from a used Ford Bronco to a new F-250. He has expanded his services to include virtually every lawncare and landscaping service, including lawn replacement, bed creation & maintenance, mulching, and organic fertilizing. He’s also added snow-plowing and salting services. Currently he’s having a new trailer custom-built.
Here’s a list of “additional” services from his website:
- Brush Removal
- Spring and Fall Clean up
- Leaf Removal
- Gutter Cleaning
- Hedge Trimming
- Power Washing
- Storm Clean Ups
- Tree Removal
- Stump Grinding
He’s also tried hiring some help with mixed success. He’s become very organized and methodical in his approach to the business with all his jobs on a strict schedule. Here’s a quote from his website:
Today we have the best equipment money can buy with a strict maintenance schedule. That includes sharpening the blades daily, changing oil every 100 hours and replacing mowers every 2-3 years. Why should you care about the maintenance to our equipment? It shows we care about the equipment we have which in turn will translate to your property that we service. Dull blades will kill your grass, low oil will blow up an engine costing you more in fertilizing and an unreliable service. Do you really want that?
If you’re looking for a cheap cut, we are not the service for you. We take pride in our work and our customer service is top notch with a 98% customer retention rate.
I’m very proud of Andrew (or Andy as most people know him these days). I still worry a bit, though, because his business rests entirely on him and his ability to work. I hope and pray that he stays healthy and/or gets to a point where his business can function without his 100% involvement.