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The rise and fall of Larson Lawn Care!

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Larson Lawn Care, Oct 22, 2007.

  1. Larson Lawn Care

    Larson Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 738

    My name is Mike, I am the owner of Larson Lawn Care. I first knew I wanted to start my business when I was 12 years old. I was at a friends house, we were in his backyard, his mom told him that she wanted to do some landscaping to the yard. For some odd reason, I started to design the backyard out in my head. I envisioned a waterfall leading into a pond in the back corner of the yard. An island in the middle of the yard with flowers, and bushes, and a few trees. The ideas went on and on, each one getting more intricate than the last one. From then on, my friend and I talked of starting a landscaping company. Well we both graduated highschool, and he decided to get into heating and cooling, but I kept to the plan.

    I started off with a 1992 Dodge spirit (that's a car, not a truck) . A small push mower, a cheap trimmer, and a push broom. I would shove all that I could in the trunk, and what I couldn't fit in there would go in the back seat. I had already been cutting for my neighbors, since I was young, I told them that I plan on making a living off of this. They told their friends, they told theirs...etc. I ended up with 20 lawns my first season. This was tough with a small push mower, but I knew that if I tuffed it out long enough, I would be able to buy bigger better things. Well, the time came, and in summer of 2003, I bought an 87 chevy 1/2 ton. She was a beast. So, I threw my equipment into the back of the truck...it was very convenient, and went out to make some money!!! Eventually, I bought a 36" JD walk-behind...then I took on more and more customers. I landed a huge gig with this investment company in 2004. I started cutting grass for a guy that worked for the company, he asked me if I wanted to cut the grass at their office. He said that they would pay $200. It was sweet, an hour and a half for $200. He told me that they owned lots and lots of properties all over the place. So I asked him if I could cut all of their properties. By this time, I had a 99 chevy silverado, and I added a 48" Ferris to the mix, an echo trimmer, and a Stihl blower. I was rollin. They owned over 200 properties all throughout the city, they owned apartment complexes, and condos...I hit a gold mine. I had to hire someone to help out of course but the city lawns were small, and since they were houses that were to be rehabbed, the lawns didn't need to look good, so we just used trimmers. I would get paid $20 for each small lawn, and I charged accordingly for the condos/apts/offices. The small lawns were a breeze, our record one day (me and another guy) got 75 done...it only took 8 hours, with a break. Well, I was livin a dream it felt like. I bought whatever I wanted, ate whatever I wanted, I took long vacations in the winter time. It was great.
    Well, in August 2005, I received 3 bad checks from them. totalling $7,000. I talked to the guy, he apalogized, and said that they needed to sell a house, and then they will have the money for me. He told me to keep cutting. I figured...well they paid me lots and lots of money all last year, and this year, why wouldn't I keep cutting. Well, I stopped cutting at the end of October. The total was a little over $20,000. I was still in contact with the guy, they were beginning to pay me here and there. I got $800 one day, and $500 another day. but I finally got fed up with waiting, I went to the office, and found it trashed. the whole building had papers thrown all over the place, and no one was to be found. They were indited on federal charges, and they owed $55 million to banks and hard money lenders. (If you want to know more about this...google DHP Investments, or Doug Hartman.)
    I never got that $20k, and just before I knew I wasn't getting paid, I bought a house, and furnishings for it, and I did some other splurgin as well. My money was quite low. The company still hasn't fully recovered, I've been working by myself for the past year and a half. Last season was horrible, I only had about 40 customers, and there was the big drought, so I didn't make much last year. I have about 65 customers this season, so I am doing good, but I still have so much to pay off. Taking that $20k hit put me in debt with a lot of people/companies and it just kept getting deeper and deeper. I need to at least double my customer base for next year so I can get this company back into shape. I do great work, I never get a complaint on quality, actually I don't get complaints at all. I take pride in my work, and it shows. I am putting an ad in the phonebook for next season, and I am working on other advertising to bring in more accounts. I have gotten all of my current customers by word of mouth.
    Debt is the worst thing I have ever experienced. But I have toughed it out for almost 2 years, I won't let it get me down. I am keeping focused, because I know I will achieve my goals. My favorite saying is "be prepared, or improvise" I couldn't be prepared for a lot of things, because of the money situation, so I improvised.

    Larson Lawn Care is on the rise, and it will stay on the rise...because there is no top...no limit to what can be accomplished.

    (I had this posted for about a month, I requested that it be taken down because there was a name I included next to "Doug Hartman", it was his attorney's name. Some how she found out it was on there(I guess she googled her name), and she threatened to sue me for "intentionally false accusations." I included her name because when her name is googled, the matters of DHP investments pop up. She is accused, according to newspaper articles and internet writings that I have read, of being very much involved. Her letter to me stated that she had nothing to do with it.)
  2. cpel2004

    cpel2004 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,416

    Well keep your head/spirits up and you will recover. I never take a customers word. I think you have learned that. Sometimes life lesson are hard learned. Remember you are a business man first.
  3. Larson Lawn Care

    Larson Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 738

    Thanks for the advice. I definately learned my lesson.
  4. McFarland_Lawn_Care

    McFarland_Lawn_Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,392

    Great story there Larson. The important thing is that you focused on the positives and made yourself better because of it. I'm sure you do GREAT work and the customers will come to you in time. Best of luck to you and may 2008 be your best year yet!! =)

  5. Larson Lawn Care

    Larson Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 738

    Thanks man, I appreciate it. I have big plans for 2008!
  6. JayD

    JayD LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,060

    McFarland, you said all right. Hey Larson, keep your head high, seek the Lord, tithe off your earnings, and he will bless you with all the work that you can handle.
    God Bless,
  7. GreenT

    GreenT LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 43,014

    Larson, in all honesty I have to tell you that I find your story inspirational not only because of the adversities you faced but, most importantly, because you have not allowed it to keep you down or give up.

    Your focus and attitude is commendable.

    I have a feeling you are going to be OK.

    :clapping: :clapping: :clapping:
  8. deere615

    deere615 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,676

    Hey man that was a great story, I actually read the whole thing it was so interresting! It was very inspirational as well. I think you a going to be just fine keep up the good work!:waving:
  9. Larson Lawn Care

    Larson Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 738

    Thanks everyone for your responses! I have never really shared my story before, I wanted to let people know what I have experienced...I am glad that it motivates or inspires you! Good luck to all!

    "I am constantly tested...passing each test with shear determination, never giving up, and growing stronger every time" -Mike Larson
  10. flascaper

    flascaper LawnSite Member
    Posts: 107

    :clapping:Your title says the rise and Fall. You may have hit a low in the roller coaster ride in this business its up and down man and you are going up now because you cant' go back down. There is no fall you rise brother and you keep rising. Can I get a hell yeh.

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