My First Truck And Lawn Mower Were Worse Than Yours

Jonathan shows pictures of his first truck and lawn mower to show where he started and how he grew his business.

In a recent video I made mention of how easy it is to get discouraged when you look at somebody else who’s talking about how great their business is. Maybe they are giving you ideas about how to grow yours and you’re looking at the scale and the size of their business. Maybe you’re thinking they’re lucky, or wondering how in the world do I ever get there, or thinking they must have had some advantage that I didn’t have. Who know what you and I probably have thought over the years when we see somebody else that’s way down the road way ahead of us.

I thought it would be interesting to show you a couple pictures of where I started. This would have been about late 2004 and I don’t have the exact pictures. I really regret that I didn’t take pictures of the team and of our set up in the very beginning.

For those that know me, I was in the lawn care business from about 15 to my freshman year of college. I got out and I was out quite a while. I got back in the business in late 2004. The truck you’re seeing on the screen was my very first truck and the piece of equipment here, the Cushman, was my very first piece of equipment. They did not look good.

Now, these two pictures I didn’t take. I went and found a couple pics on Google that looked very similar to what I had. The way I ended up with this set up is, I bought this equipment off somebody just to get started and that was 10 years ago now and it looked old back then. You can only imagine how we first looked.

Then a little later we took over a, basically there was a big commercial property that we took over and they were doing their own maintenance and their maintenance team took care of 9 properties. We took over all 9 of those commercial properties. They were doing it in-house and we bought their trucks and equipment.

My second truck was a beat up F150 that had just been beat to death and it had about 150,000 miles on it. The interior was covered in dirt and grease and I’m sure they smoked in the truck. It was a mess. It had a giant dent in the back tailgate from a trailer and then on the side it had a dent behind the opening third door, I guess you’d call it, because it was an extended cab.

That’s where I started. Nothing was wrapped, nothing was painted, all my trucks were junk. Then I went to another used truck which was an older F150, like an old body style F150, 3 generations ago now and that was my third truck. After that with the 4th, 5th, 7th truck that’s when they started to get better. I was still buying used but they started to improve.

That was the beginning of the business. That’s how I got started and I so wish I had the pictures now because people that come on to the team now have no idea what it was like in the beginning. All they see now is a big organization that runs pretty well. It’s not perfect but they don’t know what it took to get started. They don’t know how hard it was, they don’t know what we went thorough, they don’t know how we would grind it out, they don’t know where we started with hardly anything.

When we had a little bit more, we bought a little more and we kept making incremental improvements. Now what you see is a pretty interesting organization but it took a long time to get here and there was no way I could picture this. My early team, there’s no way they could picture this 10 years ago and say this is what it’s going to look like someday. We didn’t even know how we were going to get here. At first we just wanted to get to 1000 clients and that seemed like this insanely monumental task of how am I ever going to do that. Because there were hardly any companies that were that size in our local market so it just seemed really ambitious. The way it happened, we could see as we slowly made more and more progress, as we had a little bit more money, as we had a little bit better people, as we had a little bit better equipment, it’s like “Oh, I can see how I can get to the next level and then the next level and the next level.” One day you look back and you’re like wow, I cannot believe where we came from.

Most of us that weren’t handed a whole lot of money in life and didn’t have some form of advantage all started with the pretty boring uninteresting set up and we progress from there. That’s how it happens. The guys giving you advice, and the big companies you’re looking at, some have few advantages, but most probably didn’t and they just did the time and they did the work and they reinvested and worked their butt off.

Be optimistic and make it happen.