The first time NALP member Jarod Hynson mowed a lawn with a push mower at 8 years old, the smell of fresh grass, the symmetry of perfect stripes and the sense of accomplishment made the outdoors a place that he wanted to forever call “home.”
He started his company, Earth, Turf & Wood, based in Denver, Pennsylvania, with grounds care. It evolved into small design/build work, and eventually transitioned into what is now creating well-thought-out, precisely executed, great outdoor living areas.
“I’ve never been an ideal student or one that thrives in a classroom setting,” he says. “Give me a challenge, some encouragement to solve it, and let me learn that way. Whether it was fixing a skid loader engine or building a million-dollar outdoor living area behind a house, persistence has always been what make dreams come true.”
Earth, Turf & Wood Inc.
President: Jarod Hynson
Location: Denver, Pennsylvania
Year founded: 1999
Annual Revenue: $3 million
Client mix: primarily high-end residential
Service mix: 95% design/build, 5% maintenance
What is your proudest moment in business?
Sitting in a room at the NALP awards banquet in Louisville to receive a Gold Award for one of our residential projects that took almost a year to complete was my proudest moment in business. To sit there, look around and see mentors like Frank Mariani, Marty Grunder, and so many more was inspiring. This was my peer group of brothers, friends and colleagues who over the years have given me advice—whether it be at 6 a.m. or 10 p.m. on a Saturday night. They were always there for me. Without so many of them, we would never be where we are today.
What is your biggest business challenge today?
Many might say labor, but we somehow have seemed to have navigated that well. In our area of the country, aggressive stormwater management restrictions are a huge challenge. It either slows down the sales process or, worse yet, makes a client abandon a project all together. While I truly understand and support stormwater management in high density areas, spending enormous money on rain gardens to install a 1,500 square foot patio on a 20-acre tract in rural Pennsylvania is something I will never understand.
What motivates you on Monday mornings?
It’s a new week, a fresh start, and a chance to put the previous week behind you, whether it was good or bad. Monday is a chance to make this week even better than the last because we’ve learned new things that we can apply. It’s like the smell of a fresh cut lawn the first time in the spring.
What business worry keeps you up most at night?
Making sure my employees are OK, taken care of, not overworked, and are enjoying what they do is a worry that keeps me up. I know it seems like a little thing, but they work hard at what they do and take ownership in our company. I want to make sure I take care of them for all they have done over the years.
Who is your business mentor or idol?
I have so many peers who I could call night or day who would listen and help, and they’re all mentors to me. A friend told me a while back that the more successful you become in life and business, the smaller the group of people become who truly understand what you go through on a daily basis. There’s a good friend of mine named Marlin. He owned a high-end cabinetry company—though he is now retired and his son runs it. Over the years he has been an inspiration in lending advice on what it means to be a Christian business owner, and has offered advice on finances, business planning, working through downturns in the economy, and more.
What does it mean to you to be a landscape professional?
Professionalism is something that lacks in our industry. From day one, we wash our fleet of black trucks every day before they roll out. All it takes is a bucket of soap, a sponge and a hose. I don’t get why more companies in our industry don’t “get it.” The insides of our trucks are spotless and our tools are organized. Employees are in khaki pants with shirts tucked in, no loud music, no smoking, no foul language, and no rude behavior. We call clients back on the same day. Every detail that we have exerts professionalism. That’s our brand—it’s what we have always done and always will do.
What does it mean to you to be a member of NALP?
It’s a great organization that truly strives to help our industry. From the Trailblazer program to many other things, it has become a valuable tool for our success.
In five years, where do you see your business?
If there’s one thing I’ve observed over the years, and learned from mentors, it’s that bigger isn’t always better. I’ve seen so many landscape companies that are big that don’t put any more than 2 to 4 percent on the bottom line. The ego to grow quickly trumped the need for having the correct systems in place, the right CRM, estimating, job costing, key people, and the right job descriptions. Then it becomes sheer chaos with an attempt to fix it. We will grow, but we will grow slowly and have the right systems in place. So that when we get to the next level, we will be profitable. Once you get big, without the right things in place, you can’t go back easily.
In five years, where will you be as a business owner?
I will continue to hire people who know more than I do. I will encourage, empower and get out of their way. And as a business owner, that’s one of the toughest things to do. I will continue to analyze growth options cautiously, while involving key people. My three kids, and my wife Kristy of 20 years, will continue to be the top priorities in my life. No landscape is that important that it comes in the way of this. I also want to be able to give back to the industry of business owners—to help those who need help—just like my mentors helped me.