It’s a classic American success story: In 1974, teenagers Steve Sauter and Paul Schwartz started mowing lawns all over St. Matthews, and they’re still at it today. As co-owners of Lawnco Inc. (8110 Warwick Ave.), they no longer rely on their dads’ lawnmowers, of course, but on a fleet of the latest landscape-care machines and the two dozen employees who operate them.
“We’re still taking care of the yards of folks who hired us when we were 14. And 35 years later, we’re also working for their children,” Sauter said. “We work in about a 5-mile radius of our building, and have around 2,800 customers. I can bid almost any job from my office because I know this area so well. If I don’t know the newest owners of a property, chances are that I knew the people who lived there before.”
Sauter and Schwartz take pride in the fact that many employees have been with them for more than 15 years (including office manager Trish Sauter, Steve’s wife) and some more than a quarter-century. Such longevity makes customers comfortable letting Lawnco take ownership of their yards, in a sense.
“The fact that we have managers in charge of each aspect of our business, such as irrigation, turf and plant care, means that our guys work in concert; the customer doesn’t have to coordinate when services are performed,” Sauter said. “That’s reassuring for those who live here only during the premium spring and fall months, and are out of town during the hottest and coldest ones.”
“Unlike a lot of cities, Louisville has a ‘get everything ready’ deadline, and that’s Derby. People want their yards looking their best,” he said. “Our customers’ next focus is Memorial Day, and then Independence Day, when everybody wants their pool areas to look great.”
Near Labor Day, wilted summer annuals need pulling up, fall annuals such as mums need planting, and garden beds must be readied for winter.
“We stay plenty busy in late fall, too,” he added. “Beginning in October, we put up holiday lights for private homes and for small cities such as Lyndon, Northfield and Riverwood. Northfield alone has 5,000 sets of lights, and it takes two weeks to put them up. Afterwards, of course, we have to take them down and store them. It’s a major deal.”
Each new year brings a few weeks for a breather, although Lawnco vehicles and equipment are treated to a complete cleaning (and touch-up painting, if necessary). By mid-February, everyone is “back full-throttle,” moving dormant plants and trees, and treating lawns.
“All of our work – from mowing to designing and installing new landscapes – is done in-house, avoiding the scheduling conflicts that can happen with subcontracting,” he said. “By turning out a consistent work product, Paul and I have made a great business out of what started as earning a little spending money when we were kids.”
For more information, visit www.lawnco-louisville.com or call 502.423.9297.
Category: Business Profile