Josh Brunner and Gary Hardy

These two friends decided to take over a landscaping business to create more flexibility in their personal lives.

Gary Hardy, left, and Josh Brunner
Photo by Jon Arman

When friends Josh Brunner and Gary Hardy came to crossroads in their lives, it was Brunner’s father’s landscaping company that provided them direction.

Brunner, who was working two jobs, had been laid off after more than nine years at a printing company, leaving him open to pursue his passion for landscaping. He had also been mowing lawns at his father’s company in Dayton, Ohio, for 20 years.  

Hardy, on the other hand, had no experience in landscaping. After serving in the Army, he was working full time as a fireman while pursuing a career as a paramedic and hospital administrator. He and his wife were also raising their son, who has special needs. Available hours in the day were almost non-existent.

Brunner, COO of Brunner’s Lawn & Services, approached Hardy, the current CEO, about buying the company from Brunner’s dad, Larry. He planned to grow it to the point where they could focus on it full time. 

Hardy declined, but said he would help out because he could use it as a project in his entrepreneurship class. After his professor told him the company could be a success, Hardy withdrew some of his savings money and in December of 2010 took Brunner up on his offer. As much as the duo was concerned about revenue, family was the main catalyst to run their own company.

“This opened me up to be able to help my wife more with our child who has Down syndrome,” Hardy says. 

“And it freed me up to spend more time with my children,” Brunner says. “Instead of working two jobs, I could work one and be home in the evenings.”
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