Carlito Suarez is the owner of Lawns By Carlito, based in Durham, North Carolina. He grew up in the Dominican Republic and loved working with his hands. After spending 20 years working in agriculture, his wife’s job brought her back to the U.S. He decided it was an opportunity to try something new.
“When I arrived in North Carolina in 2009, my English was bad, and employment opportunities were scarce, so I was fortunate to be hired by a small landscape firm in the area,” he says. “I spent two years working closely with the owner and she had taught me everything about the business and showed me that there was a career in landscaping. In 2011, I started my own company, Lawns by Carlito, and have not looked back since!”
What is your proudest moment in business?
My proudest moment was when I realized that I could make a living from my company and a few years later my wife also joined me full time helping to manage the business.
What is your biggest business challenge today?
Finding good, reliable employees to fill our needs. There is a huge labor shortage and every time an employee transitions we are scrambling to try and find a suitable replacement.
What motivates you on Monday mornings?
I am motivated by saving for my old age and a comfortable retirement.
What business worry keeps you up most at night?
Will I be able to find enough consistent employees who show up on a regular basis to continually grow my business? Also dealing with the weather and rescheduling work to ensure it all gets done in a week.
Who is your business mentor?
My older brother has always been a successful businessman and I have looked up to him through the years at all the progress he has made.
What is a great lawn care life hack you’d be willing to share?
Spend the extra money to buy the most efficient equipment that allows you to get the job done fast! I started out with limited tools and we used a lot of manpower to get simple jobs done that I can now complete in a fraction of the time with our professional equipment.
What does it mean to you to be a lawn care professional?
I take pride in the work that I perform and the properties that I manage. My clients count on me to provide them with a beautiful, healthy lawn and I enjoy ending my day with the knowledge that it was done right. I am proud that my team also takes pride in their work and understands the importance of consistent, quality results.
What does it mean to you to be an NALP member?
I have been a proud member of the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance for several years, and when NHLA joined NALP, I was happy to get the chance to learn more about the industry on a national level. The opportunity to find out about industry trends, equipment and education is what has helped us grow our business.
In five years, where do you see your business going?
In five years, I would like to see my business expand into some hardscaping and hope to hire on more managers to run the business. My goal is to create a fully functioning business that does not rely on myself and my wife so we can one day sell it and retire.
In five years, where will you be as a business owner?
I would like to enjoy more time for vacations and travel, so hiring on the right managers and training them to run things in my absence is crucial. I currently have one manager who has been crucial at our ability to expand and grow that I look forward to finding another who is as committed to our long-term success.
This article was published in the Nov/Dec issue of the magazine.