Started as a Side Business
Average Yearly Sales Growth Since Inception
Number of Employees and Growing
Company Vision to be the Preferred Landscaping Company in their Area
With only two employees, a truck, trailer, weedwacker, and two non-commercial lawnmowers, it quickly became evident to Co-Owner Christina Morris and Co-Owner/Manager Steven Morris that to keep up with demand while continuing to grow their business they would need additional equipment and employees. Already maxed out on personal loans, they could only do this if they obtained a business loan. But after hearing “sorry we can’t help you” from two local banks they became frustrated and unsure of what to do next.
How the SBDC helped
One of the banks who turned them away suggested Christina and Steven reach out to the Michigan SBDC to consider the possibility of securing funds through the Opportunity Resource Fund to purchase newer, commercial-strength equipment and provide initial working capital to grow the business. In working with the Michigan SBDC, they gained valuable insight into building a solid business plan that included strong business goals and an assessment of their current and projected financials, and they received guidance in preparing a loan proposal.
Shortly after working with the Michigan SBDC, Christina and Steven obtained the necessary loan to grow their business. This loan allowed them to purchase additional trucks, trailers, commercial equipment, and provided short-term working capital to purchase inventory for their landscape services. Since the business started they have seen sales grow at an average of 200% annually. In 2017, Morris Lawn Care & Snow Removal was recognized as the Best Small Business for the West Michigan Region of the Michigan SBDC.
The idea for Morris Lawn Care & Snow Removal, LLC, grew from a young boy’s desire to make a few dollars one summer. At age 12, Steven Morris and a buddy started cutting lawns. They didn’t know what they were doing but they made a flyer (the best a 6th grader could do) and managed to attract a few customers. Though, this wasn’t his first introduction to small business ownership. He was raised by entrepreneurs. His mother, aunt, and grandfather are business owners.
Fast forward to 2012, Steven had returned home after a year of working for the Department of Corrections in Wyoming. He had briefly gone back to school to study law enforcement but quickly realized he wasn’t one for sitting in the classroom. Unfortunately, the job market near his hometown (Stanton, MI) was slim and the job he found didn’t cover the bills so he started cutting lawns, once again, to earn a few extra dollars. As demand for his work increased, Steven realized it was time to turn it into a full-time operation so the following summer with his mother, Christina Morris, as his co-owner and his father (who had recently been laid off) as his first employee they launched the business.
“His entrepreneurial spirit has amazed me since that little boy made his first cute flyer,” shared Christina. “Steven is very passionate about the services offered and quality of work provided, and if he doesn’t know something he’ll learn how it’s done.”
The business bloomed quickly but with just two employees and minimal (non-commercial) equipment they were struggling to keep up with the demand. To meet demand and continue to grow they would need to secure a business loan that would allow them to purchase commercial equipment and to invest in necessary inventory needed for their clients’ projects.
After being turned away by two local banks they were referred to the Michigan SBDC for business counseling and help with finding a source for funding. The referring bank had suggested they consider the Opportunity Resource Fund (OppFund), which is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) community development financial institution that serves all of Michigan and offers a variety of business loans. After learning it would take more than just completing an application to obtain business funding, Christina and Steven began working with the Michigan SBDC in 2015. Together, they would due a complete analysis of their business operations, financial structure, and growth goals. This was then followed by the development of a business plan that included strong financial projections. With this information in place, the Michigan SBDC helped them to prepare a loan a proposal which resulted in securing an OppFund business loan.
“We were skeptical about working with the Michigan SBDC but thankfully we did as it was the best decision,” said Steven. “Without their support, we’d still be juggling too many personal loans and unable to grow the business.”
With the OppFund business loan they were able to consolidate the personal loans, acquire new(er) equipment (commercial strength), and purchase landscape inventory for their clients’ projects. More importantly, this led them to hire more employees, keep up with the demand, and continue to grow the business.
“We came in with a vision of where we wanted to go and they helped us get it done,” Christina stated. “Now we’re able to be more competitive and to rise above the larger competitors.”
Since working with the Michigan SBDC, Morris Lawn Care & Snow Removal has grown to a team of 5 full-time and 3 part-time employees. They built a pole barn to house the new equipment, which included: 7 trucks, 5 commercial mowers, 3 trailers, 1 dump trailer, and many other tools of the trade. They were also able to build up an inventory of landscaping supplies and materials. The company has seen their sales grow at an average of 200% annually.
As for the future, they intend to become the preferred lawn care and landscaping business in their service area. This will require continuing to add more equipment, employees, and services available to keep up with the demand of their customers. Steven is also looking at ways to diversify their services to reach more customers as well.
Morris Lawn Care & Snow Removal is a family-owned, full-service lawn care, landscaping, and snow removal company with services available year round.
To learn more about the company, visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MorrisLawnCareSnowRemoval.