1. Missed the live Ask the Expert event?
    Not to worry. Check out the archived thread of the Q&A with Ken Hutcheson, President of U.S. Lawns, and the LawnSite community in the Franchising forum .

    Dismiss Notice

my parntership didn't work: a learning tool for others

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by David Hartzog, Jul 24, 2007.

  1. David Hartzog

    David Hartzog Banned
    Posts: 532

    i am finally getting to the point where i just need to get this out and away from me to kind of cleanse myself of it, hopefully for good.

    i started my company in 2000. it was my 2nd chance. i had a company from 1993-1997, but i feel like i took bad advice from the wrong people (my dad is one...he's successful in real estate...but he dosnt know jack about service industries like lawn care) i ended up filing banko and going truck driving. i married and had a kid and started the 2nd company...i figured with that kind of motivation i would do better. but always in my mind i thought...if i could get a partner, someone who was better at the bookwork than i was, maybe we could really work together and make this a nice big company and have a couple crews (3 or 4) going at once.

    in 2003 i kept running into this guy, a customer (i'll call him Joe--cause my wife won't let me call him what i REALLY want to call him) his yard was nice and small and he just kept asking me about my buiseness. he worked for the local power company, but he was interested in getting into lawn care. so i talked to him a couple of times and decided that maybe this was the partner i was looking for.

    my wife had just had a 2nd kid and she was working a lot getting all of our paperwork into a new computer program and i felt this would be good for her to. the deal was i would do the labor and he would run the books.

    (i have figured out that you don't start a partnership this way...the other guy has GOT TO be able to generate as much income as you in order for it to be truely fair.)

    at first, he went to an attorney an had an incorporation contract made up. i didn't understand it so i told him that i would have my wife look it over. he told me to do it then...but i insisted she look at it. this ticked him off. but, it was a good thing. if i would have signed i would have lost everything. it was all about him and it didnt say anything about me...just that i was giving over my equipment. when i said i wouldnt sign, he was MAD. brought his wife over to tell my wife that she didnt understand the paperwork. so we went to an attorney...who told us we were exactly right in not signing. and she set it up for all of us to make an LLC partnership.

    i cant remember the net worth of the company exactly, but it was between 45k and 55k. he brought to the table a pick up and commercial spray tank and some other odds and ends...at any rate, the total was even to my net worth.

    in the end, we signed the LLC and agreed that i would get $1500 base a month and additional for additional accounts and work, like bonuses. and he would get 1/2 that because he was just bookkeeping.

    this all took place in the spring around april. things seemed ok, until june. 1st we were having a little buddy-buddy chat and i found out that he was a drug addict and that his company had put him on probation and that these mystrious meetings every week were for additics. because of the drug that was involved...my wife was really concerned becuase she had to deal with someone close to her on that drug and hated it.

    next, i started noticing that he was always telling us that we didnt have any money to get stuff we needed like oil and filters and nuts and bolts (in the middle of the summer! Hello....) and that he was holding out on me as far as extra cash for high dollar jobs that we had agreed. (the bonuses) in fact, he started not giving me my full cut period. instead of $1500 a month, he would give less and less. stating that he didnt autherize me to get oil and filters for the trucks and mowers so he took it out of my pay.

    so while i worked, he played golf and bowled and went to his real job sitting in an airconditioned truck all day. i couldnt figure out where my oporating money was going. AND he kept calling my wife telling her that i wouldnt cooperate with him and i wasnt getting the work done. she finally told him that she wasnt getting in the middle. but there was more going on here at home than i knew at the time. i found out much later that she couldnt possible have stretched what little i was bringing home any farther. she was only eating 1 meal a day (fixing supper for me when i got home) and giving the rest to the kids. she got help from the state after a two month long wait for an apointment, and her freinds and the church were bringing over what food we did have.

    i gotta take a break...
  2. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,988

    I don't understand...

    WHY would you continue on with this guy after this point? You should have ran away right there...
  3. Pitbull05

    Pitbull05 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 56

    You are a better man than me. I never would have lasted that long.
  4. newz7151

    newz7151 LawnSite Silver Member
    from Tejas
    Posts: 2,419

    Doesn't sound like you needed a partner, sounds like you needed a Bookkeeper through a temp agency or something. Or a part time book keeper as an employee. But unless the guy was out there working in the trenches with you, he wasn't no partner.

    Sucks that it has happened this way. Is there any way you can put a stop to it? Call your friends Mr.Colt and Mr.Remington to help you TCOB.
  5. fargoboy

    fargoboy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 69

    Have you thought about a reality TV pilot? Call my friend Donald Trump
  6. KS_Grasscutter

    KS_Grasscutter LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,332

    Why not have your wife do your book-keeping for you, while you do all the mowing?
  7. BQLC

    BQLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 574

    if you are still in this partnership, get out, sounds like you doing better before you had help
    OK what happened next?
  8. Vikings

    Vikings LawnSite Bronze Member
    from canada
    Posts: 1,667

    This is the most ******** thing you have ever written.

    Your whole story makes you sound like one of those guys that like to be dominated.
    Does your wife wear stilettos and carry a whip?

    You getting embezzled most likely, start your own business again. I can't see how this thread is a learning tool.
  9. Albemarle Lawn

    Albemarle Lawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,544

    They would supply the trucks, sprayers, your paycheck, and the option to get insurance.

    All you would have to bring is you! (no trucks, no buying oil, etc).

    Please don't take this the wrong way, but, do yourself a favor, stay away from self-employment unless it is just that- self employment. You (and your family) will do better with the job security and benefits supplied by an employer.

    Can you relocate to an area with better opportunity? Seems like near a large metro area you could get a truck driving job and stay local.
  10. David Hartzog

    David Hartzog Banned
    Posts: 532

    ok...that part always gets me.

    so...my baby's wrapped in cloth diapers, my wife is living off the benevolence of others, she had our cable cut off and did away all things that were not mandatory for survival and i can't get money for oil changes...

    by june we were running 2 trucks and had 6 employees plus me. i would work with one other guy and the other 5 would "work" out of the other. one man, a guy i had working for while, and probably the best out of the bunch, Joe fired and i felt he was wrong. but joe told me that it was up to him and i couldnt do anything about it. also one of those guys was his nephew who let me in on the skinny...that joe had had a lawn care before and it hadnt worked out.

    meanwhile, joes wife is trying to convince me that she wants to invest in the company and purchase a 'share'. according to an LLC partnership, we had a 50/50 deal, but others could buy a percent, and basically whoever had most percent controlled. MY wife was all like 'don't do it David, they'll have 51% and boot you out and you wont have anything!' so, i held her off.

    then, in early aug, I fired a guy. and joe told me that i didnt have the right to fire him and we got into a match and i told my wife...so we decided that we would basically hold the company hostage. we went down to the bank to withdraw any funds...only to find out that my name had been taken off the company account and the bank wouldn't tell me how that happened. then, she and i went to the post office to close our box (the company po box was in her's and my name) but they said i coulnd because that box had joe and his wife's name on it! well, we went back with our rental form and the postmaster fixed it QUICK. he was visably shaken. he knew that was wrong, however it happened.

    later that day we got the call we knew would be there. my wife taked to joe...he called her names and accused her of being a drug addict and useing all our money to buy drugs (please, my wife won't cross the street unless she's at a cross walk!) and that he was going to make sure that our kids and house would be taken from us. she didnt back down though...he finally told her (i was on the other line) that he would give it all back and that he didnt want to be in the lawn care buisness anymore!

    in a few weeks we had gotten most of the paperwork back from him...my wife went over it and found A LOT of crap....he was paying himself, and then having the lawn care pay the loan he took out for his initial investment (like going to walmart and saying i'll buy that shirt but walmart has to pay for it.) giving money to his family, and the net worth of the company was $0. (the amount owed was equal to the amount owned) when i say he gave back MOST...he wanted to keep a computer program the lawn care paid for AND he kept original contracts...one was a hospital account that generated most of the income at that time.

    then, he insisted that he wanted his half 'bought out'. even though he had run it into the ground and it wasnt worth squat anymore. Just to be rid of him i took out a loan for $20k and at the meeting to disolve, he made such a big crappy fuss, that my dad gave him another $900 just to shut up and leave. the one thing we couldnt get him to do was sigh an agreement to stay out of the buisness. but he just kept hollering that he didnt want anything to do with lawn care ever again.

    my wife took the books back, trying to fix all the problems...everything looked good and 2 months later i lose the hospital account because they couldnt find there copy and joe had taken mine. joe bought some 2nd hand equipment and took that account,,,and has been a pain in my side since.

    he went around to all the customers telling them that i was on drugs and that he had to buy ME out and that i was out of buisness. i wanted to post on here so bad...but you can go through and see that i didnt post here through those times...mostly...i think i might have mentioned it here and there...but i was so FURIOUS. and everyone's like just let it go and telling me that there was no way this guy was going to put me under like he was threatening.

    and threaten he did. he threatened me everytime i got a bid that he had put in for. he was always running around on his power company truck telling me that i'd better just leave his customers alone and so forth. he'd roll up here and park the truck about 100 yrds away and stare at our house, made my wife uneasy.

    finally in 2005 he came to our house while i wasnt there and was poking around the back, so wife called the power company and they did an investigation. in the course of their investiagating they found out that he was up to other things and he had been on probation for some time and he was fired.

    THEN i really had him in my side cause he started to cut more grass....well not him, his crew...he just sits at home and tells them what to do. but, he also branched out into house painting. and i think that when you spread out like that you are just that....too spread out. anyway. he's still telling everyone that he bought me out and that i am a drug user and on and on. i REALLY didnt want him to lose that power company job...i even told the investigator...i just wanted him to leave me alone. now he wont leave me alone...hes my competition!

    i leave this alone for a while, but it keeps comming back up. the other day i found out that he's suing the power company for racial discrimination (he's white and apparently a black man didnt mess up as bad as he did...thats what my take is) and i might be supenaed (how you spell that?) in the case. this joker just wont go AWAY!!!!

Share This Page