Faces of the Industry: Kristy Mathews - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Faces of the Industry: Kristy Mathews

Kristy Mathews, owner of K&B Lawn and Landscaping based in Jacksonville, Florida, has only been working in the landscape industry for less than a year. She started her business in April 2020. Thanks to contactless payments and their work being done outside, Mathews says the pandemic has not caused any issues for the business.

“Everybody’s wanting to do their lawn now,” she says. “Since more people are working from home, they want to look out the window to a more beautiful and well-kept lawn.”

Mathews currently runs the business with just her husband, but she says she’s bidding on a neighborhood contract and is planning to expand the business with more crews.

She says when she realized she could make a career out of landscaping the feeling was euphoric. Previously, Mathews served in the Army for nine years.

“I would have stayed in the military,” she says. “But there were too many times I had to choose between my family and my career, I really wanted to be here for my family. Three deployments take its toll on a family and I made the best decision I knew to make at the time.”

Mathews also struggles with PTSD, but she says working outside in nature helps her tremendously.

“I initially went into construction, but I just like nature,” she says. “I like cutting the grass and the peace it brings when I’m on the lawn mower or when I’m digging in the dirt. I legitimately love what I do.”

Mathews says she wishes people would study more on how nature can help with mental stability.

“Once you organize things, and they look good, it makes you feel better,” she says. “Your yard is the first thing you see when you come home. And the last thing you see before you leave. Whether you are conscious of it or not it has an effect on you. We run a very tight schedule and we try to make sure that we show up to cut our clients’ lawns on the same day at the same time. So, for some of them it’s like a fresh haircut or hairstyle.”

Mathews says her military background has helped her be more disciplined, organized and to never give up when it comes to running her business. She uses pricing charts on her website to give the customers an idea of how much certain services cost and to qualify her leads.

“We give free estimates but it’s not free for us,” Mathews says. “It costs us gas and time to go out there so we give them a starting price then they know if they can afford it or not.

So far, she hasn’t had any mentors yet, but she says she’s trying to get her feet wet more.

“I like to go to the table with knowledge,” she says. “People seem to want to help you more when you know a little bit more and you’re really into what you’re doing.”

She says her favorite part about working in the industry is the scenery and being able to ride around and see different things all day. Mathews says she doesn’t see anything as challenges but as learning opportunities.

“For me, it’s a matter of figuring out a way to do it,” she says. “But if I were to say a challenge I deal with, it would be working at night and doing this during the day.”

At night, Mathews has a job with the railroad. She rests on Sundays and Mondays currently.

“I think it is hard work but in the end it’s worth it and it has a great turnaround,” she says. “I feel like if all I had to start with was a push mower, I could start from the push mower and make my way up fairly quickly with hard work and determination.”

As for where she sees herself in five years, Mathews jokes she’ll definitely be a millionaire.

“I’m not really chasing the money because I love what I do,” she says. “I have so many ideas for the future because there’s not really anything for women in this industry and I really want to push to have things specifically for women. Clothing is a big one for me because I know that if I’m comfortable and I look and feel good I will have a better day. I feel that at times I’m losing my femininity and I think having more feminine wear would help with that.”

Aside from having more gendered work clothes options, Mathews would also like to change the mindset that women can’t do landscaping. In one instance, she was doing a consultation with a woman who asked if she knew how to cut grass because she’s never heard of a woman cutting grass.

“That’s how people think because of the traditional dynamic of the family,” she says. “Men have done it for so long, and there are so few women in the industry.”

Mathews plans to do a survey of the surrounding area to try to answer the question of why so few women do enter into this career path.

This article was published in the Jan/Feb issue of the magazine.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.

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