Women In The Green Industry: Jennifer Lemcke, CEO of Weed Man, Wins Seasoned Pro Award

At 16 years old, Jennifer Lemcke viewed the green industry as a way to earn pocket change. Here's the story of how all of that changed and how Lemcke eventually rose to the position of CEO of Weed Man-Mosquito Hero.

Jennifer Lemcke
Jennifer Lemcke

Jennifer Lemcke: Seasoned Pro

When Jennifer Lemcke, CEO of Weed Man-Mosquito Hero, first started doing odd jobs for her father, Roger Mongeon, who bought and operated a Weed Man franchise in 1986, she mostly thought of it as the ability to earn some extra pocket change.

After attending college at the University of Ottawa, meeting her husband Chris and working in telecommunications at the University of Ottawa, her father approached her and Chris about joining the company.

Their answer: Yes.

“I grew up in it in my teen years before going to university and saw how hard my dad worked and how committed he was to growing the business but also the franchise,” Lemcke says. “I never thought I would be (in the industry), but I certainly fell into it.” 

Flourishing success

When Chris and Jennifer joined Weed Man and took over the Ottawa branch in Ontario, the company’s book of business came in at $216,000.

Within the first year, the pair doubled that, and within six years, they grew the company to $2 million, building a great team along the way.

“When we did this, we were young, in our early 20s,” Lemcke says. “After our first year, I gave birth to our first child, and we have three beautiful children now, so in those starting years, while we were trying to make things happen, starting a family and starting a business, we were running a million miles a minute. As a small entrepreneur, I lived and breathed and did every position in the company, and my husband did, too.”

From there, the team started to buy multiple franchises across Canada, and in 1999, Jennifer embarked on a very big project of getting everyone set up on the same computer system, which brought her to Toronto.

It was in that timeframe that Mongeon (her dad) approached her and asked if she would consider getting involved in the U.S. franchising side of the business and leading Turf Holdings, Weed Man’s U.S. franchisor.

“I really fell into my own at that time. I got to work with incredible people to help them build wealth through franchising and teach and work alongside employees to understand our processes, procedures, business planning and training program,” Lemcke says. “The success that we've had in the U.S. and the camaraderie and the family atmosphere that we've been able to create has been quite remarkable. With our franchisees, I can honestly say, I love the people I work with.”

Fast-forward to 2018, Weed Man founder’s wife, Brenda Rice, retired and sold the worldwide rights to Turf Holdings. The company now has more than 350 franchisees across North America.

Similar to the growth of the early days—but on a much larger scale—Weed Man expanded again. Turf Holdings helped grow Weed Man worldwide from $173 million in system sales in 2018 to more than $350 million this year.

“I would say that the start of my career, the midpoint with the acquisitions and master rights in the U.S. and being able to take what we built in the U.S. back to Canada was a huge accomplishment,” Lemcke says.

Outside of her company, Lemcke also does a lot of work to grow and better the industry as a whole.

Including speaking engagements for various associations and serving on multiple committees for the National Association of Landscape Professionals, Lemcke has done her share to elevate the industry throughout her career. 

Facing hurdles

However, the Weed Man CEO’s career has not been without challenges. For one, she says traveling as much as she did took a toll, especially when her kids were younger.

“There were times when I was out of the house more than I was in the house, so the guilt that comes along with that was significant,” Lemcke says.

She credits her husband and a nanny for helping to fill in any gaps while she was away.

“My goal was to never miss the big stuff, but it hurt to miss the little stuff,” Lemcke says. “Thank God for technology; I was able to Skype in at the end of the day and be present, and between Chris and the nanny, we brought up our kids as a community.”

Looking back at what she would’ve done differently, Lemcke says she would’ve given herself more grace.

“As a woman, you’re pretty tough on yourself,” Lemcke says. “But my kids truly understand the value of working hard and that nothing is given to them. So, sometimes you think you’re making the wrong decisions, but it’s really the right decision, and it helps build a foundation for your kids when all you’re feeling is guilt.”

Nowadays, all three of her kids are grown, her daughter running the Houston Weed Man branch with her husband, her oldest son starting his career after playing professional hockey and her youngest son working as an electrician in British Columbia.

When she’s not working on the business, Lemcke enjoys spending time with her family, grandkids and playing golf.

“I’m sitting at my desk most days, and in Canada, you don’t get to enjoy as much warm weather, but golf forces me to only think about my next shot, and I can just forget about work, and it clears your mind,” Lemcke says. “Also, my third grandkid was just born. My grandkids are always wanting to go outside and just look at the little things around them, and it makes me very present with them.”


When asked about future goals, Lemcke is unflinching in her answer. She aims to grow Weed Man to a billion-dollar company within the next 10 years.

“We’re doing a digital transformation and eliminating some of our technical debt and streamlining and simplifying our current state,” Lemcke says. “We're looking to enhance the experience for the employees of the franchise and the customer. We’ve been able to build a foundation of trust with the franchisees, and we’re feeling like this is the foundation for tomorrow that we’re working on today.”

Callout box: What does it mean to be a woman in the green industry?

“We probably look at things a little differently than men. So, it allows me to look at it from all angles. I always say my best course in management was raising three kids. It’s allowed me to come to the realization that not everybody learns the same, not everybody's mentored the same. It allows me to tackle my role with a lot of empathy. I feel that's something that women can really bring to every aspect of their role.”

Callout box: Advice

“You have mentors, and you have the opportunity to reach out to mentors. Don’t go it alone. I believe that you need to use your network to figure out the issues, and there's no issue that can't be resolved.”

“I will caution that women still want to earn their spot at the table. You don’t want it to be given to you because you’re a woman because that would be a step backward for us. That’s an important lesson for anyone, not just women, but especially for young people starting in any career: You’ve got to earn it. Don’t expect it.””