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A Dream Shattered, A Destiny Fullfilled

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by environment, Aug 19, 2004.

  1. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    To truly understand the story, I must tell it all the way form its origin, so here it goes.
    I started in the business at the age of six.
    picking up sticks and pulling weeds for my stepfathers landscape business, A.M.F. Landscape-Design.
    AMF began as Ferrante's Gardening with my stepfathers father. He did lawn maintenance part time after his job with the town water dept. My stepfather went to work with him after school and straight through till he was 20. In college Angelo (my stepfather) was heavily into track, and had the chance to transfer to Florida and compete for a spot in the NFL, His father refused to let him go spoiling his childhood dreams. Angelo wound up deciding to take over his fathers houses and try and turn it into a profitable business. I still remember going from mailbox to mailbox handing out flyers with him. Within a few years he gathered about 80 clients for maintenance, well technically 50, he started with 30. Every single summer I faithfully went to work 6 days a week and loved it, i was making great money and spending time with dad, which was important to me because my biological father wanted nothing to do with me.
    By the time I hit 17 things started turning sour. I was making less than most of my friends and hour by far and working much harder. by 18 I was running the show, litterally for $400 a week, now 6 days of work, 10 hours a day for $400 a week, not cuttin it well, but i had no bills and he was gonna be payin for college, so i didnt complain.
    I went to college for Horticulture, and flourished in the design end. I found out I have a very artistic edge that never showed itself before. After two years of college I decided I was done. I got my associates degree and decided to call it quits. I was already set on the fact that I was going to expand his business and take it over eventually. Well I landed him a job in which I would get to create a design. I was thrilled and so excited, however he didnt want me to do it, basically saying that the designs were pointless and the clients would never pay for them and didnt care about them. I did it anyway and the clients where thrilled. I ended up making $1300 for it and he landed a $35000 job. That would mark the beginnning of the end. I began noticing a long string of jealousy developing. He started to cut me off from customers and scream at me if he cought me talking to them about anything landscape related. Not to mention I could litterally do nothing right anymore for him. well it all reached the boiling point when we started that big job I designed, he kept straying from my design which caused arguements, and it was constantly raining so working in it was hell.

    We had just gotten done eating chicken from roy rogers for lunch and began working again when the pooring rain hit again, I got to a lawn umbrella before i got wet, and everyone else was soaked, he asked for the bucket of chicken he left in the rain, and i thought he was joking, i guess not and he didnt ask twice. I had never been physically abused before, so I never saw it coming. We ended up in a mud fight. He kept grabbing me by the neck and throwing me into objects thoughout the lawn. Now he is twice the size of me, Im only 5'11" and 145lbs, hes 6' and 210, and in great shape, im in good shape to, all muscle but not much weight at all. so I was scared, Im a black belt in Martial Arts so I dont get scared often by a physicall challeng but this time because it was him I was. The last time he threw me was into the clients deck stairs and that hurt bad, so i decided that was enough, i grabbed the glass iced tea pitcher that was on the table and smashed it over his head. It ended it alright, left a scar under his eye as well. but the next couple months where a nightmare. I was 21, making $400 a week still and not able to quit or I would be kicked out of the house.

    more later
    Green Dreams likes this.
  2. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    I decided it was time to make my break, i knew i could make it on my own but only has about $10,000 saved and I was driving a Nissan Maxima, not much Landscaping can be done with that. I sucked up the remainder of the season and I went and bought a 99 Ford F350, 4 door, 6 ft bed, then i bought a v-plow, and i figured i would try and make some money plowing, So Environmental Design & Management somewhat began, I did some halloween displays and christmas displays to try and raise some more funds, and I bought a used 36" scag, a used and really old 52" rider of which I have never seen the likes of before but i works like a brand new one after I made some alterations of course. The came getting the clientel, that january I pushed my way into a booth at a home and garden expo, and sold like crazy, All I had where the designs I made in college and of course the one I did back with AMF, but I gave it all I had. I landed a decent amount of construction work for an expo show, and a small bit of maintenance.
  3. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    plowing didnt bring me much because the plow broke down on me first time out, and im sure that killed some credibility, so i plowed for another company thta winter just to keep some cash comin in,

    spring at last,

    well, we ended up only landing 2 maintenance accounts, but the design and construction was looking good, I just finished my second solo design and i was thrilled. My first job would be a $15000 construction job, complete with a walkway, patio, large wall, and lots of plants. well, it didnt go to smooth, we messed up alot, and i loosed alot of money, the job got completed and looks great, but it was a nightmare to get it that way, I went into debt bad, and had to keep taking profit from side jobs to make ends meet on that one. My girlfreind said, look at the bright side, you learned every mistake possible first time out, and that i did, since then we gained 10 houses and 3 commercial accounts for a total of 13, still using the same equipment, except for a trimmer and blower, oh and a trailer of course (open).

    we have done 4 sidewalks, 2 walls, 3 patios, and 2 steps.
    lots of plants, well, we have been busy.

    and thats where I am at, Oh, I moved out last month. My girlfriend and I have a 1 bedroom apartment that we love very muchand I have never been happier, money is very tight, and I worry alot about the bills, but slowly everything is working out.

    September looks like a great month, we have 2 really big projects scheduled and one to be decided, as well as more halloween displays, and then cleanups, and then christmas displays, and then snow, and then it starts all over again.

    I also have a web site being made as we speak that is horticultually related that we may make an announcement here on lawnsite soon.

    for quite some time i was loosing faith in myself, I know that I could have made my stepfathers company huge, but he never would have let me. I always wanted to be in the spotlight, and he would never alow it. Now I can stand alone, and the light is getting brighter, slowly yes but brighter none the less.

    my mother and I talk everyday and I miss my brother who is only 3.

    I miss my stepfather but he wont speak to me, and I am not welcome in his home, I still go when he is at work to visit my mom and my brother, but I have to be out before he gets in, and since we work rather similar hours thats tough. My friends have not left my side through all of this and have keot me looking up when I might gave up or lost faith in myself, and My girlfriend is now my Fiancee and we are set to marry in january 2006.

    I would describe this first year as survival, for me and my business, next year I have declared as my year, when Environmental Design & Managment and United Environment take over..........

    And Thats My Story
    Kelly's Landscaping likes this.
  4. NNJLandman

    NNJLandman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,306

    Thats a good story man, I'm glad to hear your "regaining" yourself and striving to get over the bumps in the road and get to the top of the moutain if you know what i mean. Business can have its real slow times im sure you know that by know but then all of a sudden your hit with tons of work. Well I wish you and your company the best of luck. Keep plantin brotha. heh

  5. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,685

    I read a few stories here from time to time most are not that good I want to read some one that faced incredible odds and survived or some one that has made a multi million dollar business from scratch. That said I loved your story and I really mean that I can tell you first hand it may be more then a few years of survival before it all comes together. But if you are still here come next spring then you have made it regardless of how much debt you have or how hard things are you survived where most fail year one. What you need to be working on now as we speak is your plan for next winters ad blitz that is when you will get 80-90% of all your business for the following season. We bought some letters from this site in Feb. of 2003 and did direct mail all I will tell you is year two and we have over a 130 accounts so set you goals real high next year and go nuts in spring.
  6. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    thanks for the kind words, means alot, well, since writing I somewhat got an apology out of my stepfather, not ofr any past things, just for the recent and I am aloud to be in the house at the same time as him again, oh joy! (sarcastic) well I wont complain, Forgive and never forget, thats how I see it. Anyway, business wise, that website debuts friday, nowhere near completion, but something will be up. As far as the landscaping, we picked up two more maintenance accounts last week, and another halloween display so im happy, bills keep pilin up though, and I am gettin worried, my mom just gave me over a grand to help out and im still almost 2000 away from being clear for the month, and then rent comes again on the 1st, maintenance accounts wise Im at 16, three of which are commercial, need alot more, my original goal was 20 for the season, so hopefully i can pick up four more.
  7. Flyscaper

    Flyscaper LawnSite Member
    from USA
    Messages: 34

    I really enjoyed your story this is my second year in the business as well. I felt like you were talking about my experiences over the past summer,(screwing up a big job) its quite a learning experience when you think your going to make 7 grand and you end up losing 3 but thats on the job training and how times are ruff when you start out. They say if your doing things Right it will all pan out in the long run, its just getting threw the first couple off years. Well anyways i liked your story alot and wish you the best!!!

  8. midtnstone

    midtnstone LawnSite Member
    from mid tn
    Messages: 76

    i guess all i can say is proud of you i think that you have a bright future ahead of you just remain like you are and let your business roll full steam ahead.
  9. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    well, I just picked up three more commercial accounts, so I am almost at my 20 mark, 1 more to go before the end of the season.
  10. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    I got it. The final account to make 20, a residential house
    I do the whole side of the block except one in the middle, now his son moved out and i got him, wahooooo

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