A Timeline Of Accomplishments
Jennifer Lemcke CEO,
Turf Holdings / Weed Man
1. When, why, and how did you start your business?
The Weed Man story began in 1970 when Des and Brenda Rice founded Weed Man in Mississauga, Ontario, starting from scratch without any customers. By 1976, they had successfully established a business model and began franchising across Canada.
In 1986, Roger Mongeon, my father, became the owner of the first Weed Man franchise in Hull, Quebec. His dedication and success led to expanding into seven additional territories in Montreal by 1989.
In 1992, at the age of 22, I joined the Hull franchise and had the opportunity to gain experience in various roles within the company. In 1993, my father brought together a group of shareholders, including family and friends, to expand Weed Man into Ontario, while acquiring multiple franchises and establishing a holding company. Around the same time, my husband Chris and I took on the role of spearheading the Ottawa franchise.
The growth continued in 1995 when Turf Holdings Inc. was incorporated and acquired the master franchise rights for Weed Man in the U.S. In 2000, I joined Turf Holdings Inc. as Vice President and continued to contribute to its growth. In 2009, I took on the role of Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Turf Holdings Inc., contributing to the company’s continued success. Eventually, in 2020, I became the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Turf Holdings Inc., which has been an incredible journey (and one that I’m still on!). I can’t wait to see what’s next for our company.
2. Please describe your business now.
Weed Man offers comprehensive lawn care services, including fertilization, weed control, insect control, aeration, seeding, and more. Mosquito control services are also offered through our sub-brand, called Mosquito Hero. We currently service 540,000+ full program customers across North America.
All of our franchises are locally owned and operated, but collectively we have more than 5,000 employees across our network (an exact number is difficult to pinpoint, as we’re a seasonal business and part of a franchise system, so this number is a bit fluid).
Weed Man currently has 144 locations in the U.S. and 73 locations in Canada, representing 336 contracts and 860 territories (territory defined by 150,000 in population).
3. What is your educational background or skill set? Is there a degree, continuing education class, or skill you would recommend for success?
I attended the University of Ottawa, where I majored in Political Science. After I joined Weed Man, I went back to school to take accounting courses. I would recommend that all business owners take accounting to help them understand the business – balance sheets, P&Ls, how the business works, etc. This knowledge helps me coach franchisees and run our own business.
4. What do you see as the main reasons why your business grew successfully?
First and foremost: the people. But also an incredible attention to detail and the systems we have in place like a strong dashboard and metrics to measure success. Without this type of benchmarking, we wouldn’t be able to detect gaps and pivot accordingly.
5. How did you set yourself apart from competition?
The systems that we have created allow franchisees to work on their business rather than in their business. There’s also so much trust between us and our franchisees.
6. What was your best business decision?
When we launched Weed Man in the U.S., we decided to do it with the help of regional sub-franchisors. These are local business consultants that understand regional agronomics – very important when we’re dealing with different grass types and their varying needs. Our sub-franchisors provide one-on-one support to franchisees in their sub areas and have been absolutely instrumental in our growth and success.
7. What was your worst business decision?
When we originally launched mosquito control services, we did so under the Weed Man brand. We found that this service got lost in a very competitive landscape. Customers did not necessarily affiliate our name or brand with mosquito control, and it was hard to set ourselves apart.
We were able to correct this by re-launching the brand under its own name: Mosquito Hero. This has helped us stand out from the crowd and increase our mosquito revenue.
8. What was your funniest business experience?
I travel a lot for work, so there have been many instances where I’ve shown up at the airport on the wrong day or gone to the wrong hotel. I’ve also absolutely tried to get into the wrong hotel room more than once. :)
9. What’s your favorite piece of equipment/landscaper tool?
Prior to the pandemic, it was the phone, because it allowed me to stay connected to our franchisees. Now it is definitely Zoom, because it allows me to see everyone face-to-face even from afar.
10. What is your advice to others? What do you wish you had known?
My advice to others is to surround yourself with good people and people that know more than you do. You might think you need to know it all, but it’s OK to lean on your team.
11. What is your plan for the future of your business?
To become a billion-dollar system sales franchise in the next 10 years.