Tender Care Lawn Service: A Homegrown Family Business
By Lauren Abate
Donald LaPoint knows all about hard work. He grew up on a soybean and rice farm in Lake Arthur, doing major chores before and after school and later on, work. As a young man, he married, had two children, and eventually became involved in the oil industry, working offshore in the oilfields.
“I worked 14 days on, 14 days off,” Donald says. “When I was home, I needed something to do. I decided to try something different than farming, so I started mowing lawns in my off-time.” He hit on the right choice, because the business soon started to grow.
“We sent out a post card mailer, and before we knew it, we had picked up 30 new clients overnight!” he exclaims. The part-time business grew, but Donald was still working offshore. “My buddies helped out when I wasn’t around,” he remembers.
Things got even more complicated when Donald transferred overseas—to Africa. That’s right—Africa. “I was there seven and half years,” he remembers. “I’d come home every 28 days, stay here for 28 days and work my business, then go back to Algiers.”
As I said, Donald LaPoint knows all about hard work. When he was finally ready to retire from the oil industry after 35-plus years, he knew he would not be golfing and fishing every day. No sir—this man had other plans.
“I easily could have never worked again, but that’s not me,” he smiles. “I knew it was time to grow my lawn business.”
This is where his son Percy comes in. A Computer/Microsoft engineer by day, Percy would come home and mow lawns nights and weekends, clearly inheriting his drive and work ethic from his dad. He loved his day job, but was excited about getting into the business full time with his father. “It was always our goal one day to do it together, full time,” he says. In 2004, the time was right.
At this point, they knew that in order to truly expand, they would have to reach the Sulphur/ Lake Charles market, so they decided to move the business to Sulphur. “It was Percy’s idea,” Donald says. “My wife was going to monogramming classes there anyway, so it was perfect.”
The family did not go full guns into the business blindly. They spoke with a financial planner and made very specific goals. “We talk about everything,” Percy says. “If we have to make a purchase, we make sure it is in the budget. We are very strategic about every step that we take.”
Growing the business also meant growing their services. “At first it was all about mowing, but we’ve since expanded our services, Percy says. “There so much we can offer you. If it’s outside, we can do it!”
With the expansion of their business, Percy’s knowledge has increased by leaps and bounds. It is clear that this is his true passion. He has his own blog on the company website where he offers gardening and lawn maintenance advice. He regularly contributes to other lawn forums and enjoys helping other businesses. “I’ve taught and trained other companies. I believe in paying it forward. I know that we’ve been blessed, so I have no problem helping the other guy out,” he says. He is in direct contact with LSU/AG and is up to date on the very latest on lawn care maintenance, fertilizations, pesticides—you name it.
They maintain three licenses:
Chemical License : #00160445
Louisiana Landscape Horticulturist : # 4214 & 4222 and
Louisiana Irrigation Contractor : # 0644.
The business now has 14 employees and continues to expand. “We’ve experienced significant growth each year since 2013,” Percy says.
A typical day begins at 6:30 a.m., when father and son get together to discuss the upcoming schedule and meet with the crews. “We make sure we know what each crew is doing and where they are going,” Percy says.
“All of our truck supervisors have phones, and I’m always on my laptop keeping track of the jobs,” Percy adds. The two typically put in 14-16 hour days. “It’s important that our customers are completely happy. We offer 100 percent guarantee on all of our jobs.”
“We don’t ask our employees to do anything we wouldn’t do,” Donald and Percy both say. “We are always out there ourselves.”
The LaPoints appreciate their hardworking employees. Both men stress that they are all about family and treat their clients as well as their employees as such.
“Our guys are just good people,” Percy says. “I got a call one day from someone demanding to speak to the manager. From the tone of her voice, I thought that something was really wrong. It turns out she’d been in a funeral procession on the highway. One of our crew members had turned the mower off, was standing next to the mower with his hat in his hand, honoring the deceased. She was a family member and was so moved by this that she wanted to commend his actions to us. We were so proud of him and that kind of gesture shows who we are as a company.”
Speaking of family, what’s it like working as a father and son?
“We balance each other out,” Donald says. “Of course, we’ve had our disagreements. But we work great together. We know what to do and we stick to it. We enjoy bouncing ideas off each other. And we never make hasty decisions. We always sleep on it.”
The future looks bright for this hardworking duo and their crew. They won the Angie’s List Super Service Award for 2014-2015 in the category, which is a big deal indeed.
When asked about the future for Tender Care, Percy smiles. “We’re going to keep on going as long as we can mentally, physically, and spiritually do it,” he says. :In just a short period, and with strategic growth, we have grown from a few guys to 14 full-time employees. Now, we are training both managers and workers—we’re in the growing stage. Our constant mission is to grow strategically while maintaining our excellent customer service.”
“We’ll get the job done,” Percy says emphatically. “We shake your hand, we look you in the eye, and we want to do business with you.”
Lawn Care Tender Care welcomes the opportunity to provide full maintenance service. However, if all you need is a company to mow the yard, they will be happy to help. Their standard service includes mowing the entire yard, line trimming (weed-eating) around all trees, posts, fencing, etc., edging all sidewalks, patios and driveways with a blade edger and clean up of all clippings. They mulch, as it is much better for the lawn. When necessary, grass clippings are bagged and removed from the property.
Tender Care Lawn Service provides more than just weekly lawn maintenance. They offer the following services:
Fertilization and Weed Control
The major goal of turf fertilization is to produce attractive turf that is healthy and able to withstand the rigors of its intended use. Fertilization is one of the most basic and important components of a turf management program. Tender Care offers year-round and comprehensive programs to maintain a lush yard, using only the finest fertilizers to achieve beautiful results. In addition, they will fight those hard-to-kill weeds until they are gone.
Shrub and Hedge Trimming
Mowing the yard is only half the challenge. Bushes and trees that are not consistently maintained hurt the appearance of even the best-kept property.
Experts say remodeling a master bathroom or kitchen can potentially return big dividends at the time of selling. According to Money Magazine, professional landscaping can return up to 200 percent of the original investment when you sell your property.
Mini-excavators are becoming an important development tool, particularly in urban areas where tighter quarters demand smaller, lighter equipment. Give them a call if you have a need for any of the following services:
• Digging for electrical conduits or plumbing
• Digging out small shrubs
• Digging small ponds…or any other jobs that may require an excavator.
Sprinkler System Programming & Repair
Tender Care offers full-service irrigation to provide a practical, economical and effective irrigation solution for your yard and landscape. Their irrigation specialists are trained in the latest irrigation technologies and have the expertise to program, repair and effectively maintain any type of system. They can program, troubleshoot, and repair your irrigation system for your landscape–on time and on budget.
Tender Care Lawn Services
2315 Gaylynn Dr. Sulphur, LA 70665
Phone: (337) 313-3002 Fax: (337) 313-0489, www.tendercarelawnservice.com
Serving Sulphur, Lake Charles, Westlake, Moss Bluff, Vinton, Carlyss, Iowa and Hackberry. Free estimates