My first job is doing landscape installation, I’m making $23,000 a year, I’m getting married, and I’m looking for a way to make more money when… opportunity strikes.
My wife’s grandparents give us a wedding present of $1,000. So I take $300 of it and buy 1 gallon pots, dirt and liners and I make 600 jasmine. Then I sell them to the landscaper I’m working for. That nets me about $1,000 and teaches me the first great lesson I learned in business: You can make more money if you use your hands and your head.
I reinvest my profits and my first company, G&S Nursery, is born in 1995. My brother and I form it together and run it on the side.
Later that year, I leave working for the landscaper and go looking for a pay raise. I land a new job selling bolts for this man Mark’s company. Instead of a pay raise, he talks me into a pay cut! (No good business lesson in that).
But Mark is a highly disciplined individual who really knows how to leverage money and his customers benefit from lower cost. And Mark teaches me the second greatest business lesson I ever learned, to think of the customer as “the boss.”
Anyhow, I do so well in sales that nine years into working for Mark, I buy his company, “HUB”, from him. When he first hires me, HUB is doing half a million in sales. By the time I purchase it in mid-2005, we are doing over four million annually. And when I sell it January 4th, 2016, we have grown to about thirty million in revenue.
After selling HUB, I could have taken more recreation time for myself, but in my heart I want to get back to my first love, G&S Nursery. I have been a business owner for 20 years, and I want to continue to apply what I learned running HUB to the nursery business.
I’ve always liked and appreciated landscapers for being down to Earth, nice people. People that work with their hands.
And I see a way I could really help landscapers make more money, a way we’d mastered at HUB.
At HUB we specialized in “soft-cost” savings. That meant we wowed our clients by specializing so well in what they needed, that instead of them having to buy from 10 generalists, they could switch to only using us, one specialist. And that switch saved them a ton of time, labor, invoicing, sourcing, decisions, and headaches. Those things are called your “soft-costs” and most people overlook them, but they are money in the bank if you can cut them down.
Helping people lower their soft-costs is the third most important business lesson I ever learn. True story, soft-cost savings is so valuable, one of our clients in the Northeast switches from their vendor of 20 years that is literally right across the street from them, to using us all the way down in Florida!
Today, I’m really happy to be back in landscaping and I’m on a mission to bring “soft-costs” savings and the best customer service in the business to my clients, or as I call them, “the bosses.” And I’m forever grateful to my wife’s grandparents for that wedding gift of $1,000!