Lots of people hold part-time jobs while they attend college. But few people do what Jon Rick did. At age 19, he took a part-time job with Tim Schnabel’s company, Integrated Lawn & Tree Care, in Colorado Springs, Colo. By the time he graduated, he was working more than 40 hours per week.
“I got started going door-to-door and putting out flyers, and then I got into production and started aerating lawns,” Rick says. “That was very tough on the first day, because I wasn’t used to a big machine leading me around. Yet, I came back at the end of the day with a smile on my face. Ever since then, Tim and I haven’t really had any issues.
“I’ve always liked being outside,” adds Rick. “I’ve really only worked two jobs in my life – fences and lawn care. My dad owns a fence company. I’ve never had an inside job.”
Nonetheless, Rick turned Schnabel down when he was first offered a full-time job. “I told him ‘no’ more than once,” Rick says. “I thought that I wanted to be in finance – to wear a suit and work downtown every day. I thought, after I went to school and spent all this money, do I really want to be pushing a spreader around for the next five years?”
Then Rick got a taste of the white collar world. “I had a finance internship for nine months while I was in school,” he says. “I realized that I can’t sit in an office all day. I didn’t like wearing ties, interacting with a computer all day, or talking to people over the phone.”
Suddenly Rick’s attitude changed. “That’s when I warmed up to Tim’s offers,” he says. “I wasn’t 100 percent sold on lawn care, but when he started talking about ownership, that’s what really got me interested.”
By the time Rick graduated from college, he was already supervising employees. “I didn’t realize it then, but I was already a manager – I was doing the job,” he says.
Rick, who is just 27 years old, is happy with the choices he’s made. He now oversees the day-to-day operations of the business and, based on a plan he has worked out with Schnabel, he is on track to own 30 percent of Integrated Lawn & Tree Care by 2014. “I have no problem that I’m not a Wall Street finance guy – I like being a small business owner,” he says. “I’m glad that I got here by working hard and paying my dues, rather than something getting handed to me.”
When offering advice to others in a similar situation, he tells them, “Think about your long-term goals. If they align with what the company wants to do for you, go for it.”
This is one of two stories that ran in Lawn & Landscape's Growing Green e-newsletter. To hear why Tim Schnabel hired Jon Rick and then asked him to take over the daily managing duties, click here.