Gardeners For Hire
I can still remember the smell of the prairie spring mornings. The sun shining in a bright blue sky, and the occasional cloud drifting past. My small town peaceful and quiet, the silence only broken by the singing robins. This was a glorious time to be 8 years old. As the rest of the world was still waking to their morning, I was pulling my mothers lawn mower from the garden shed. It was as old as I was, and just as heavy.
While all my friends were settling down in front the TV for a marathon of GI Joe and He-Man cartoons with a bowl of cereal and cold milk, I was in the back yard, not looking forward to what was to happen next. It wasn't the actual mowing that I dreaded as much as it was the effort it took to just to get this dinosaur to turn over.
Every heaving pull of the dusty cord took all the weight of my light body, the wheezing whir of the recoiling pull cord spiraling back into position and once in a while an unsatisfied burp from the disgruntled engine who was unhappy to be woken from her week long slumber. Our long winded discussion would be settled with a puff of black smoke and a sputter before one final pull convinced the old gal that it was time for work.
When I began my journey through the backyard, I was already in full sweat and half worn out, but I found some solace in the way I could feel my body. The way my arms and stomach burned from working the pull cord, my heavy breathing slowing, and with each step the purring engine and vibrations of the engine through the handle grasped in my hands lulled me into fascinating worlds of my own uninterrupted thoughts.
Before I knew it, the lawn was mowed and the grumbling engine would cut out with a slide of the throttle control lever, but the day had just begun. Next stop, Mrs. Coleman. Her and her husband lived a few blocks down the road. They were a friendly elderly couple from church who had asked me to help with their lawns since Mr. Coleman was no longer able to start or push his mower. This was my first paying job. It was 1985, and $5 per lawn cut was a small fortune to a young boy who was more than willing to push his old dirty mower down the uneven sidewalks and over cracks in the concrete that would make the mower jump and bounce in exchange for the small winfall I would be paid each week.
I would look forward to finishing up their job, because Mrs. Coleman would always have a glass of juice and cookies waiting for me with a $5 bill. We would share stories of the week, and she would listen as I would ramble on about this and that while nibbling on the treats and washing it down with a refreshing cold glass of apple juice before heading back to the mower waiting outside and making my way to the final lawn cut of the day.
This went on for 6 years until adventure came calling in the form of a job offer from my uncle. He had a lawn and garden business and was needing some extra hands and asked if I would come for the summer to lend a hand. That summer turned into fall, which turned to winter, and another year slipped into the past. By the time I had reached 11th grade, I decided that the education system wasn't for me, and went to work full time.
It all went by so quickly, it almost feels like a dream. Watching the plants grow, seeing clients come and go and working in all kinds of spectacular gardens filled with flowers and color... and the smells. The amazing smells. To this day when I smell the sweet scent of an Asiatic Lily I am taken back to a simpler time that was full of unrealized potential.
Through the years, I have worked for other small businesses, learning from each of them what works and what doesn't. I studied each business I worked for and learned all I needed to get me started. By the time I was 30, I knew it was my time.
At the time, I had been working for a car dealership and I was not happy. Although money was tight, I took my final $600 pay cheque and invested in a hand held blower and a line trimmer. The mower, I still needed.
Every year, the neighborhoods around us had a spring clean out, where all the people would clean out their garages and place items on the curb for FREE-Cycling. I had heard stories from friends of the kinds of treasures they had found from the clean up, and it was something I had to check out for myself.
In my old Chevy S-10, I cruised the streets hoping to find any mower. Book cases, couches, lamps strollers, swing sets, you name it. One could furnish their apartment in a morning with what they came across. And yet, no mower.
This morning I was not alone. Another truck filled with all sorts of metal items was always just ahead of me, around every next corner. He was looking for scrap metal. Every time he'd turn left, and I turned right, we would somehow meet around the next bend. With each encounter I could see the new reward he had collected, and in the back of his truck I saw he had found a lawn mower, and I knew I must be close to finding something.
Several hours went by and I had been circling around the same houses time and time again, it felt like I was running out of luck. When finally, right as I was about to admit defeat, I spotted a man walking a green push mower down his driveway. I quickly stopped and and began a short chat with him. There was nothing wrong with this mower, he told me, and the only reason he was letting this one go was because he wanted a new one that was self propelled.
And now, my equipment list was complete. I had all I needed to begin building my new business. All I needed now was a customer. Any customer.
One afternoon, I sat down at the computer and created a flyer. It was simple, yet effective.
The next day, I drove around neighborhoods, putting these little 4x6 flyers in each of the doors.
It would surprise me, years later when I would get a call from someone that still had one of these flyers that they'd put away , knowing one day they would need help in their gardens.
It's been almost 40 years since I first started pushing lawn mowers, and in that time I have come across all sorts of business people. Most I like, some not so much. I have spent my free time learning how to grow and build my business, which advertising works and which ones are flops. I have spent countless hours designing and redesigning my own websites and finding the best ways to get my name out there to new clients.
Because of my persistent stubbornness, I have achieved more than most guys who try to get their businesses going. My dedication to my work has allowed me to develop a solid client base in my local area and I have seen that not many other contractors have had the same success. This is why I created the Gardeners For Hire Network.
I have reached that time in my life that having those early morning, long winded discussions with my mowers is taking its toll on me. I feel its time to pass on the torch to the next generation of folks that want to run their own business. I have mentored many upcomers and have helped them learn the ropes, and I have trained apprentices so that they can make a living from this industry as well. I have journeyed through the pits of Hell, and had my taste of victory in this life and now I must share my knowledge with others that they can enjoy in the same feast that I have.
I want to provide an affordable way for other contractors to grow their business within their budget. Too many online advertising agencies have absurd contracts with outrageous monthly fees. While the online advertising agency is raking in profits, the guys who are in the trenches are struggling to make ends meet.
I want to change this. I want the guys doing the work to be able to grow their business, while still being able to afford life.
My constant companion, Micah - April 2023
I hope you have enjoyed my story, and the journey that has brought me here. For those of you who are looking for a lawn and garden contractor, I will do my best to bridge that gap.
For those of you who are looking for new clients, I will do everything I can to bring that closer to you.
For all who have made it this far, keep up the good work and know that your persistence will pay off.
Dwayne Interlino - Owner Gardeners For Hire
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