This Ticks Me Off

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by JimLewis, Mar 8, 2007.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    You want to know what really ticks me off? I've found myself starting to REALLY enjoy landscaping, horticulture, irrigation, and this entire industry over the last 2 years.

    Sounds like an odd statement, right? Let me explain.....

    This is something nobody knows about me; I really never liked landscaping, lawn care, etc. I didn't start this business because I enjoyed the work or the industry. It was a means to an end; plain and simple. I started mowing lawns in 1996 just as something to do while I looked for another job. I had no intentions on making anything big out of it or sticking with it for longer than the summer.

    But within a few weeks my ideas started to change. I was fairly successful fairly quickly. Within 2 weeks I had landed $2000 worth of monthly accounts. And I started doing the math and soon figured out that this could actually be a good business! But even then, it was just a business. I took no enjoyment from mowing lawns or doing other landscape work. But I was starting to like the business end of it. My major in college was Business Administration, and I've always been entrepreneur-minded. So that's really what kept me going in this business for all these years. I was excited about running a business, having employees, growing a business, landing jobs, signing contracts, growing the company, etc. That's what really fueled my fire. But all the while, I still never had any love for landscaping. You know how some people are really into plants and horticulture, well, I wasn't one of them. I was purely in this because it was profitable. I would have been a painter or a roofer or anything else if I could have made it profitable as well. And I secretly was proud of the fact that I really wasn't "into" landscaping like a lot of these other "nerds" were.

    Well, the problem is I am really starting to like it. I've learned so much about the plants in our area, the turf in our area, horticulture, irrigation, hardscapes, etc. that now I find myself really loving it.

    Over the years, I've heard lots of customers say comments like, "Wow. We are just so happy with the work you guys did. I can tell you really love what you do." And inside I was laughing and thinking, "Haha! Ya, right! No, I don't love doing this. But I do love that $12,000 check you just handed me!!!" But now that kind of thinking has changed.

    By now I've managed and done so many kinds of landscape and irrigation work now that I rarely get stumped on anything. I almost always know the answer to any question or challenging situation in someone's landscape. My confidence level - as a professional - is greatly improved. I sometimes used to feel like I was guessing or making an educated guess to a challenge or question and now I can usually say with confidence that I know for sure what the problem is and how to fix it. And I am starting to feel really good about that. I find myself wanting to learn more. Wanting to attend more certification classes, wanting to go to more seminars, wanting to read more, wanting to become more educated in my field.

    It's become something I really like and enjoy. And it's no longer just because of the money and profit that I do it. And that ticks me off. Because I am becoming the nerd I never intended to be.

    :angry: :angry: :angry:
  2. Dollar Spot

    Dollar Spot LawnSite Member
    Messages: 159

    Welcome to the club, from all us nerds.
  3. e-RoK

    e-RoK LawnSite Member
    Messages: 56

    So what's the problem?
  4. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    What's the problem??? Well, I'll give you a few examples....

    Just the other day we were up at Mt. Hood playing in the snow with the family and on the way home I had to stop the SUV and say to my wife, "Look at those trees there! Those are all Murayana Lodgepole Pines, just like the one I planted near our front door. They are native to this area, quite hard to find, and only found up here in the mountains!" And from the look on her face, she really didn't care. But I was excited!

    Today I spent 5 or 10 minutes educating a client about a new variety of sod we have available to us here in the NW for shady conditions; turf-type tall fescue or "water warden" as it's marketed. I told him about how shade tolerant it was, how it was more drought resistant, traffic tolerant, I told him where the research was done, who grows it, etc. I am just excited about the product. But he probably didn't care. All he probably needed to hear was, "Yes. We have a type of sod that will grow great here."

    Another example; I make sure my 6 year old son knows the name of every plant, grass, or tree we come across. And not just the variety, but the subspecies as well. For instance, just the other day I was having this conversation with him....."Riley, what's this plant over here?..... Right.. Nandina....But what kind of Nandina is it....'Moon Bay'! That's right! Good boy!!! And what is this tall grass over here?.... Here's a hint, it's from New Zealand....That's Right! New Zealand Flax. Good boy! Now what variety of New Zea....." you get my point....

    Or I'll see a new cultivar and stop and talk about it with our foreman or our designer for 10 or 15 minutes when I should be off giving bids or doing other profitable work.

    Stuff like that. I never used to do crap like that. I always saw these overzealous horticulture tree hugger types going on and on about stuff like that and getting excited over a freakin' plant or whatever. And I used to think, "Dang dude. It's just a plant. Get over it. Get a life."

    And now I'm that guy.

    It's not all a problem. I am enjoying it. And some customers really enjoy the enthusiasm and the education. But sometimes I sense not everyone enjoys my enthusiasm and thinks of me as that nerd I used to see in other people.
  5. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    Just wait till the school cop comes over to see why some weird guy is taking cuttings from the juniper screen in front of the elementary school- "I'm serious, I need to go back and see what hybrid of juniperus virginiana these are. These are JUST what my client needs!"

    On the bright side, Jim, that kind of enthusiasm translates into sales with the higher-end clients. It's a lot easier to sell a $200K project when the homeowner feels you're as invested in it as they are.

  6. Carolina Cuts

    Carolina Cuts LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,152

    Your story sounds like one that could be written for Turf Mag. :clapping:
  7. General Landscaping

    General Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 801

    I hear ya man....

    I'm showing symptoms already.
    You are just a few years ahead of me.
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Ohhh yeah THAT, why do you think I spend so much time here spouting off supposed wisdom, in an apparent effort to wear it out before I go off in public and make a fool of myself?

    On words to the wise it doesn't seem to work, somedays all it does is get me even more excited thou the real funny part is I don't think I've ever mentioned this site if for the main reason that lawnsite is my version of the secret sauce LOL.

    On the other hand it's probably a good thing, likely means you're doing well by now.

    Maybe you should look into getting a bmw, all the nerds drive'm :laugh:
  9. palawnman

    palawnman LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Messages: 159

    Reading this post just kind blew me away. I have read alot of posts from you over the years, and I would have pegged you as a very smart business man as well as a "nerd" for anything outdoors. I have tremendous respect reading your advice to people. Learning that you started in this industry just as a business man, and then loving it.....I didnt think that would be possible. I always thought that you really had to love this business to successful in it.

    If you dont mind me asking, how did you become so fluent in all the services that do now? Read books? Just learn as you went? I would be really interested to see what started your love for this business...


    DUSTYCEDAR LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Messages: 5,132

    well u could get a hot dog cart in jersey and start a new biz.:rolleyes:

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