Owner, Long Term Lawn Care, Lancaster, Ky.
Green Industry Pros: So, how did you decide to get into the green industry.
Johnson: I come from a long line of addiction. My parents were addicts, and I struggled for 15 years until I finally got my head straight. I previously worked for a power company clearing out overhead lines so I had some experience in climbing trees but never in landscaping and lawn maintenance. I started by mowing my mother-in-law's yard and my aunt's and then their neighbors' about four years ago. Soon, I had about nine people, so I decided to start an LLC in November 2020. It was scary, because I didn't know if I was making enough to pay quarterly taxes, and I didn’t know how any of that worked. I dove in, passed out fliers and knocked on enough doors to make sure I had enough work to at least pay taxes to stay afloat.
Green Industry Pros: Tell me about your company.
Darren Johnson: Right now, I'm still working solo. I do lawn maintenance, tree trimming and landscape maintenance. I work in a small town and so advertising is mostly through word of mouth.
Green Industry Pros: What have been some of your challenges and successes?
Johnson: I'm in a new neighborhood now with an HOA, so I’m trying to get on this project and get a contract for steady work. A lot of people say they have trouble with customers, but I've yet to have one bad customer or bad complaint from a customer not liking something I do. Challenges have been just finding people who want to work. It’s been so hot here, and it’s hard to find people.
Green Industry Pros: As someone who has recently started out, what advice would you give someone looking to do the same?
Johnson: The biggest thing I've heard from a lot of customers is that people aren't showing up. They're coming in and scheduling jobs, but they're not showing up to do what they say. If you just show up, that's 90 percent of the job these days. It really is that people are not sticking to their word doing what they say, and they're not reliable. If I have to give anybody advice, it would be show up on time, and do what you say.
Green Industry Pros: What are some of your goals for the company moving forward?
Johnson: This year, I think I'm going to try to spread salt and do driveways in my neighborhood. My long-term goal is to have a nursery. That's what I really enjoy: taking care of plants and trees. My kids can help work on it. My wife also loves outdoor stuff, and she's really invested in helping me do the nursery. I think it will be a good family business that we all can enjoy. Within 10 years, by the time I’m 40, I would like to have that ball rolling.
Green Industry Pros: What kind of other things do you like to do with your family?
Johnson: I have two boys and a daughter. We probably go to the river about three times a week. I have always been very outdoorsy with the kids, whether it was a fishing or hiking. We’re never really inside.