February 20, 1978 was the day I first started working for a lawn care company. I have been asked many times about why I started working in this industry, and I’ve always said that it was fate that enabled me to start a job that I really knew nothing about when I first started. I had worked for a couple of landscaping companies while in high school, so I was familiar with landscapes and plants, but working for a lawn care company was new to me.
After graduating college and trying to find a job as a teacher, I worked for a small catering company that serviced some airlines at O’Hare Field in Chicago. As I waited for the next plane to land one Sunday evening, I went into the break room for the baggage handlers that was located at ground level under the terminals. It was a cold night and more snow was forecasted to arrive. Thankfully, there was only one plane left to service for the night. As I sat at the table, I picked up one sheet of the Sunday paper that someone had left behind. It just so happened to be a page of help wanted ads, so I just started looking at the ads for something better to do. That is where I first heard of a lawn care company.
My initial reaction was that this didn’t seem like an idea that was going to last, sort of like selling Yugos. I really did not enjoy working the evening shift for the catering company and did not see a future in it for me, so I thought, why not give the lawn care company a call. Since I had worked for a couple of landscaping companies, I at least had some connection to caring for lawns (I certainly had installed enough of them).
I called the company the next day and after a brief telephone interview (“Yes, I am at least 18 years old” and, “Yes, I have a valid driver’s license”), I was invited in for an interview. It is important to remember that the year was 1978, so I showed up for the interview in my three-piece, rust-colored, corduroy suit with a paisley-print tie, tied in the (then stylish) double-Windsor knot. I am still not sure if the smile on the face of the woman who interviewed me was due to my outlandish attire or the fact that she was just a friendly person.
After finishing the initial interview, I was asked to wait a few minutes to be interviewed by one of the supervisors. When he came in, he looked me over and said, “Well, you won’t be needing that suit doing the job we have open.” Of course, he had been working in the warehouse and his clothes were covered in dust, his face was streaked with grease, and his hands were just as dirty.
Needless to say, they hired me. I hung the suit up in my closet, and thus began my career in lawn care. It has been 37 years of ups and downs and failures and successes, but I am happy to say that grass still grows, trees and shrubs still flourish, and while I may be the lawn care “expert,” there is always something new to learn and experience in this industry. I think back to all the people who have influenced me over the years and I thank them for their leadership and guidance. Someone once gave me a little plaque that was meant as a joke, but it does have some truth to it. The plaque read, “It is easy to grow in this job as there is always plenty of fertilizer available.” I definitely agree.
Over the last 37 years, Harold has learned quite a bit about lawn care—take advantage of his expertise by asking your lawn care questions!