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By Constance Scrafield
When the job you took very early on turns out to be the job you love, then, when life hands the business to you, however unexpectedly, it gives you reason to succeed.
This is Tyler Anderson's story, and how he is making it work.
“I started landscaping in 2015, right out of high school, for Country Gardens and Landscapes,” Mr. Anderson told the Citizen, in a sit-down interview over a mug of coffee. “The business was owned and operated by David Teixeria; he'd been running it for more than 20 years. I was woking and I fell in love with the work.”
During the first couple of years of employment, Mr. Teixeria taught Tyler the trade, about planting and maintaining gardens, about the earth and how to make a garden flourished, how to mow a lawn to look perfect, how to keep a client happy.
A retired accountant before he went on to start his landscaping business, Mr. Teixeria also instructed his young employee on the financial end of the business: how to estimate, how to keep the books.
“Then he died of a heart attack on the May long weekend in 2017. He had had three heart attacks before; his wife had died before him.”
Mr. Anderson said he “took ownership of the business,” because “his daughter was living in Vancouver and his son lived in Toronto but they both had their own lives and they didn't want the company. Rather than sell it, they wanted to keep it running and keep the name, for the clients.” Tyler said.
Mr. Teixeria was living by himself and running the business mainly in Mono, for 20 years. Most of his clients, who own these homes in Mono, live in Toronto and this is their weekend house. He used to go to Toronto as well to take care of their gardens there.
“I took over the business in 2017. At that time, there were more than five, close to 10 people working for him. He had a large property with a greenhouse; he kept it stocked, so, he had people working on his place too. Then he had a truck with a couple of guys going to properties to mow and he took the other truck with workers for the landscaping.
“People from Toronto bought his property in 2018 – it took a while to sell – and I'm still maintaining it. The greenhouse isn't stocked anymore but the new owners have a big vegetable garden. They did it themselves with their kids. I just rototilled it and they did all the rest.
“When I first took ownership [of Country Gardens and Landscapes], David had died in May, right at the beginning of the season. That first year, I took on the workload with just me and two more workers and one truck. I wanted to ease into doing a business on my own. I took on the mowing and landscaping jobs myself and we worked every day, including weekends. I did it this way because I wanted to look after it as well; I wanted that relationship with the clients.”
We asked how he handled it, how he's enjoying it and he answered, “It went surprisingly well. We kept it together – I still have all the clientele. They're very happy and I still have them.”
Of then and his present day, he explained, “I'm living in Orangeville, in the basement of my parents' home. and I have a condo in Orangeville, which I rent. A friend of mine and I own it. We just bought it, [before David died] so, I was a bit cash-strapped when I started. My dad is a truck driver and he took a leave of absence and worked looking after the lawn mowing [for the business] from May until November.
“Working with my dad was just enjoyable, working together, creating memories, just having fun.
“I had two trucks and five people working this season . Just for the winter, I do snow-plowing myself.”
We discussed his plans for future education. “That first season, I started directly out of high school and I fell in love with the work. Then, David died and it was my business but I'm looking into getting into online courses in landscape design. I'm young, so there's time to think about what is most important. Right now, there's not time to attend [a college] but I do hope to attend some day. Maybe, find someone to look after the snow..”
Over the course of the last two seasons of having his own business, Mr. Anderson told us, “I've done a few jobs of original designs, one for a large property with new construction, after the house was built. That was really fun. Right now, though, I'm doing work on maintaining my regular customers.”
Like so many businessmen running outdoor or heavy work companies, Mr. Anderson admitted, “My main concern is getting a crew. The turnover rate for a landscape company is a big problem.”
His is the right mindset for the work and he shared that with us: “I don't only pay minimum wage because I think, if you pay the minimum wage, you'll get the minimum work, so I pay better than that. And landscaping is hard work and I want them to stay. But you're working outside and working with the environment, enjoying your days.”
Tired at the end of the day? Yes, “it's a good tired – you feel as though you've accomplished something.”
And, so, what's next in 2020?
“In the spring,” he commented, “there's a lot of tree work, after the winter ice storms and winds.
“David taught me how to charge and estimate. On Saturdays, we used to go into the accounting for the business and that was great information.”
Nowadays, gardening is pesticide-free, “with a fine of $25,000 if you get caught using pesticides. We just keep the lawn weeds down by spreading pellet fertilizer by hand – the grass grows so well, it chokes out the weeds.”
“I'm also interested in real estate, to own and rent properties. We took four months to find the right tenant for our condo and he's been with us the whole time.”
His ambition? “I want to grow this business as much as I can – I really want to see where I can go with it,” he said, assuring us that, “I'm in for the long haul. I love this work and how well it makes me feel.”
To contact Tyler Anderson, to discuss employment or engaging his company to care for your own property: their website: cgllandscapes.ca; and by telephone at 519-216-0044.
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