Succeeding with Plan B

Features - Company Profile | Turf TitanZ

Starting a landscape business wasn’t Adam McGuyrt’s original career plan, but it has worked out well for him in recent years.

January 7, 2019

Photos courtesy of Turf TitanZ

Adam McGuyrt faced a few career options in the spring of 2011 as he was in his fourth and final year of service in the Marine Corps: he could re-enlist for another four years, work for an established company or start his own business.

A few months before his final year of service ended, he told his officers he planned to leave to start a business in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. Starting a business was a financially riskier option than staying in the Marine Corps, but he says it was something he was more passionate about.

“I enjoyed the Marine Corps,” McGuyrt says. “But I really wanted to start a business.”

McGuyrt’s Plan A was to start a homebuilding business like his father. As a kid, he enjoyed watching and helping his father with his work. However, McGuyrt says the market didn’t seem strong enough in 2011 to start a successful homebuilding venture.

So, he turned to Plan B, which was to start a full-service landscaping business, which he named Turf TitanZ.

“I had to think more practical, considering the market at that time,” he says. “I did some landscaping work in the past, and I worked around some of my dad’s houses as he was building them with the landscapes, maintaining them. So, I rolled with landscaping, which was also something I really enjoyed.”

Year of change.

When McGuyrt started Turf TitanZ, he says it wasn’t too different from any other landscaper’s story – it was him, a mower and a pickup truck. However, McGuyrt had the additional challenge of juggling the launch of a new business along with serving his last couple of months stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point near Havelock, North Carolina.

For McGuyrt, 2011 was a year full of change – he got married, he ended his service with the Marine Corps, built a home, enrolled for a two-year turf management program at North Carolina State University and started Turf TitanZ.

Despite the “chaos,” McGuyrt says Turf TitanZ gradually gained some recurring customers that spring through flyers and word-of-mouth marketing. Most customers agreed to let McGuyrt mow their lawns on weekends when he was wrapping up his service in the Marines.

However, if some customers needed service during the weekdays, McGuyrt recruited his younger brother Tyler to help them.

If any customers needed maintenance services on weekdays, Tyler would perform those jobs as soon as his high school let out. Oftentimes, one of Tyler’s friends would join him to earn extra money. McGuyrt says their efforts helped the business get its start, ensuring customers were taken care of.

“They held down the fort, that’s for sure,” he says. “They never whined once. I probably wouldn’t have grown as quick if it weren’t for their help.”

During the summer of 2011, McGuyrt worked full-time to grow Turf TitanZ. Yet, he experienced more change and a crunch for time once his college classes started that fall at North Carolina State University. He says he would go to class during the day, then perform maintenance jobs in the evenings and on weekends.

The business managed to gain 30 recurring customers that first year, but McGuyrt says working long hours on top of taking turf management courses seemed to be too much for him in 2012. He also noticed he was getting behind on equipment payments.

“I had always been one who was squared away with finances,” he says. “I was always a saver. But I got to the point where I had to put a truck payment on a credit card. I remember doing that in between classes and thinking, ‘Something’s gotta change.’”

So, he decided to drop out of college and devote his time entirely to growing the business. McGuyrt used this new time to find additional workers for the company since there were only three full-time employees.

Although the first couple of years in business proved to be demanding and cash flow was tight, McGuyrt says he and his wife Kaylyn made it work for their new family.

“It wasn’t an easy ride,” he says. “Going from the Marine Corps where you get a paycheck every two weeks and benefits are paid for to starting your own business where the customer’s not paying you on time was a tough transition. Somehow, we made it work.”

McGuyrt learned to be more selective in the hiring process and built his team to 23 solid employees.
Photos courtesy of Turf TitanZ

Rebuilding a team.

As Turf TitanZ grew, McGuyrt says jobs were easy to win but good laborers were hard to come by.

His brother Tyler and his friend left the business in 2012 after they graduated from high school. McGuyrt hired one solid employee to replace them, but otherwise he says he was short on man-power. So, McGuyrt needed to hire more reliable workers to the team.

To recruit people, he placed “now hiring” signs around town. He put magnets on trucks and trailers. The company hired a few employees through these efforts, but McGuyrt says he wasn’t selective enough in the hiring process.

He also sold more work than the company could handle.

“The way that I started to build the business was sell, sell, sell,” he says. “The way I hired, I just found someone, put them on a truck and got them to do work.”

“I went through and got rid of all the people causing nonsense, not showing up.” Adam McGuyrt, Turf TitanZ

This business model led to problems. McGuyrt says some equipment broke due to careless mistakes made by employees.

Some employees wouldn’t show up to work, so McGuyrt had to call customers and apologize for being unable to make it to their property that day.

By 2014, McGuyrt says he decided to become more selective on who worked for the company. He fired five employees who were causing problems that fall.

“I went through and got rid of all the people causing nonsense, not showing up,” he says. “I stuck with my loyal guys who were dependable and grew from there.”

By late 2016, McGuyrt says he was finally confident with both the company’s workloads and the team he had on board.

Since then, the company has grown slightly but he’s stuck with the same business model of selling work his current crews can handle. However, the company is growing and broke $1 million for the first time in 2018.

“Today, we’ve got a solid group of 23 guys,” he says. “I have never been more proud of the team we’ve got. My biggest focus now is taking care of the good people here and to condense, tighten up and make the business more efficient.”