FARGO, N.D. – Growing up, Ryan Such was that ordinary kid down the street who’d mow lawns for neighbors during the summertime.
It served him well, sort of a prequel of what was to come.
Today, he is the owner of a popular grounds maintenance company that services commercial and residential properties in the Fargo-Moorhead and outlying areas.
His company, All Terrain Grounds Maintenance, started in the 1990s and was incorporated in 1999 – the same year Prince sang about on the radio and that people looked forward to with fascination and trepidation as a new millennium approached and anxiety mounted about Y2K.
Looking back when he was given his first lawnmower and snowblower as a teenager, it’s been an adventure he continues to enjoy today.
Today the company, headquartered in Fargo, has about 30 year-round employees and just as many part-timers.
The business’s clientele is similarly split half-and-half, he said, with it servicing about 50% commercial properties and the other 50% residential. The company does not landscape properties – “we basically take care of things after they’re landscaped,” Such said – but maintains them, no matter the season, by mowing lawns, weeding flower beds and fixing sprinklers during the warmer months, and removing snow when Old Man Winter comes to town.
The seasons don’t necessarily change the company’s clientele dynamic, as it generally remains split throughout the year between commercial and residential.
Looking back over the past year, he said the company has remained relatively unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“For us, we're mostly exterior and so it hasn't affected us that much,” he said, explaining staff members wear masks and social distance when appropriate; but for most part, the one and two-person teams work outside and are not in large gatherings.
“We’ve taken all the precautions that I think every other company has taken, but for the most part it really hasn't changed much for us,” he said. “Some supply lines were disrupted a little, but we haven't seen a huge issue with that either.”
He also said more people are better educated these days about their lawn care and maintenance needs, explaining education seems to be the main trend he is noticing.
“I think the trends in the industry are people are asking for more,” he said. “I think people are more educated about their lawn care and that people are asking for more detailed services than they used to in the past. If you look at a person's lawn back in the 1900s, they probably didn't do a lot of weed control and fertilizing. People have the means to do that now. They use social media, which helps to pass information along, and so I see where some people are just trying to keep up with the Joneses.”
It is the same for businesses as for residential owners, Such said – more people are taking pride in their properties.
That’s good news for all concerned, and Such said his company encourages and provides more education, both at work in the communities. It continues to train its employees about new approaches to lawn care and other related issues, for instance, and offers advice to clients about self-maintaining their properties. The company also uses technology, including social media, and provides tablets in each of its vehicles to assist its employees.
“That’s the beauty of technology and the curse of technology, it's like there's always something (to keep up with),” he said. “We're constantly evaluating the technology but we haven't made any big changes to it. I mean, there are electric motors out there that are remote controlled and things like that, but we haven't gone that route.”
As winter approaches, Such said, he doesn’t expect work to slow down anytime soon. The company, as it does every year, will keep busy with snow removal.
“We do a lot of snow removal,” he said, noting in the meantime he and his team are enjoying working outside while the temperatures are relatively warm.