First year reflections

Alex Beam started his business, Guardians of the Green, just over a year ago and managed some early struggles.

COVID-19 brought a whole lot of change to the world and for one man the start of a brand-new business.

Alex Beam started his lawn care company, Guardians of the Green, in the midst of the pandemic and has been working to grow it ever since.

“We started about a year ago,” Beam says. “I was a chemical engineer doing more corporate work. But I had done landscaping for a long time — since I was 12 or 13.”

Beam recalls traveling a lot with his old job as an engineer. But when the world slowed down, he took it as a time of reflection.

“With COVID happening, my corporate life changed quite a bit. I went from about 160 nights on the road to nothing,” he says. “I started re-evaluating what’s important in life and what I wanted to do.”

Beam says it boiled down to lawn care and dog training as his two main ideas for a new business. But after helping his neighbors with one of those things, it became evident which he wanted to pursue.

“I was spraying some of my neighbors’ lawns and helping them with weed control, and a few of those guys told me I should do it as a business,” he recalls.

LESSONS LEARNED. Over the past year or so since starting his business, Beam says he’s learned a lot. From the triumphs to the challenges, he adds he’s thankful for all the experiences along the way.

“Pricing has been hard to learn,” Beam notes. “Definitely last year with inflation.

“I locked myself into some contracts and I was a little hesitant to pass price increases on to people because I was a brand-new business,” he adds.

Trying to predict the unpredictable was also difficult, Beam says — since he’s started his business, fuel prices have gone up 20-30%.

“Figuring out how to estimate things was very challenging at first,” he says. “I had to stick to my guns on quotes or pricing even when customers pushed back. That all was an interesting learning experience.”

Beam says it was hard to accurately budget for materials, supplies and fuel costs, and having enough labor was another challenge he faced.

“I think figuring out people and how long things take was also big,” he says. “By September of last year, I was wishing I’d hired three more people just because of all the leaf jobs that came in... By November and December, I had to turn away a lot of business because we just didn’t have the capacity to deal with it. There were lessons learned there, too.”