The Yardstick: Q&A With Nate Bahler, Green Meadow Lawn Care

A hard-working high schooler wanting a job forges a successful career (and business) as co-founder and owner of Green Meadow Lawn Care.

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By Christine Menapace
From the February 2024 Issue

The Yardstick

A Timeline Of Accomplishments

Nate Bahler

Nate Bahler
Owner & Founder
Green Meadow Lawn Care
Ellington, CT

1. When, why, and how did you start your business?

I started the business with my cousin, Tom Gerber, in 2007 when we were both still in high school. I was 16 and he was 14. Both of us were looking for after-school work and Tom’s father offered us a job mowing the lawn at his office complex. From there we thought, “Well, we both need to stay busy after school. Why don’t we start mowing the lawns of friends and family?” I remember going through the church phonebook and calling people at night until we built up a small client list.

Our business started as strictly a mowing service. In 2015, my co-founder/ cousin, Tom, left to pursue an engineering degree. His brother, Brian, and I purchased Tom’s company share. Brian and I are still co-owners today.

My Aunt Carole, (Brian and Tom’s mother), has been managing our front office since day one. Her house was actually our first office location. We ran the company in the old playroom. We started with $7,000, one lawn mower, and two employees (Tom and I).

Yardstick Timeline

2. Please describe your business now.

Today we run a local and family-owned lawn care company in Ellington, CT called Green Meadow Lawn Care. We sold the mowing arm of our business in 2020 to focus on lawn fertilization as well as tick and mosquito services.

We currently service over 3,200 customers (up from 219 customers in 2015) in northern Connecticut over a service area that spans 17 towns. We do this with 16 staff members, 13 commercial service trucks, 10 Z-Spray fertilization machines, and eight Z-Aerate machines from Z Turf Equipment.

3. What is your educational background or skill set? Is there a degree/continuing education class/skill you would recommend for success?

We started this company in 2007 as a mowing business. We have participated in continuing education in the industry via University of Connecticut Turf Days and Annual Real Green Systems Conferences.

4. What do you see as the main reasons why your business grew successfully?

A few years after we built up our fertilization services and expanded our client list, we got to a point where we had too many services. We only really started to take off and grow when we focused our efforts on our most profitable services where we are experts. We ran with that and continue to expand on that today. We also have a strong focus on our community and rely heavily on referrals.

Green Meadow Lawn Care
Brian and Nate over the years.

 

5. How did you set yourself apart from competition?

I grew up on a farm so we really pride ourselves on our farm community and family values and ties. We really try to be both as transparent and educational to our customers as possible. We work hard to be very responsive and in-touch with our customers. Customer service is one of our main company values. If someone isn’t happy with their lawn, we go to their property and resolve any issues.

6. What was your best business decision?

Our best business decision was expanding our mowing services and purchasing a lawn fertilization company in 2011. We were a little overwhelmed at first – there was a lot we didn’t know. We actually thought about throwing in the towel after our first year with it, but our family encouraged us to stick with it.

After that first tough year of offering fertilization services, we decided to hunker down and learn everything we could. We learned more about the business side of things and what it took to run a lawn fertilization company. Purchasing that company and sticking with it, despite the struggles, is a big part of what got us to where we are today. Today our fertilization services along with Tick/Mosquito and Aeration and Overseeding are the only services we offer.

7. What was your worst business decision?

Our worst business decision was trying to offer too many services and be a jack of all trades versus focusing on niche services we are experts in. We took on services we weren’t comfortable with and we couldn’t be a master of all services we offered. We were spread too thin and it led to scaling back our offerings so we could really focus on what we’re good at.

Green Meadow Lawn Care
The Green Meadow fleet ready to start the day.

 

8. What was your funniest business experience?

I was weed whacking around a pond, singing, happy as can be… I looked up and was shocked to see a bear 15’ from me eating berries and just watching me. I was so startled that when I tried to run I slipped into the pond — weed whacker still going and all. After getting out of the pond, I ran so fast that I scared the bear. When the other crew members came around the corner, they found me soaking wet, locked inside of the truck, and laying down in fear hiding from the bear!

9. What’s your favorite piece of equipment?

My favorite piece of equipment is the Z Max spreader/sprayer. It’s versatile for spreading and it helps our guys be as efficient as possible.

Green Meadow Lawn Care

10. What is your advice to others? What do you wish you had known?

Master what you are good at. Invest in high quality equipment to save you from back breaking work. Take the time during your hiring process to build a good team and invest in your employees and team.

11. What is your plan for the future?

Our plan for the future is to build route density. We want to concentrate our current service area as fully as possible while building and retaining our life-long/loyal customers.

For more information, visit greenmeadowlawncare.com.

Would you like your business to be considered for a Yardstick profile or know one who should? Email the Editor at cmenapace@groupc.com.

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