When Zack Kline was in the 6th grade, he was instructed to cut the family’s grass. A task that most kids dread, Zack quite enjoyed. He continued to take care of the family’s lawn and in 2007, the summer he graduated from high school, he began working for a small landscaping company.
It was during this summer that the idea for A.I.R. Lawn Care came about. It was a scorching day in Darnestown, Md., and Zack was working on trimming the edge of a 2.5 acre property. He became irritated at the excessive amount of smog and the loud noise the string trimmer exerted. That, coupled with knowing the amount of gasoline the company was putting into their machines on a daily basis, had Zack thinking, “There’s got to be a better way!”
The better way? A.I.R. (Atmosphere Improvement and Renewal) Lawn Care. Zack developed a business plan and entered Salisbury University’s Bernstein Business Plan Competition in 2010, in which he took honorable mention. He honed his plan and came back the following year, winning the $5,000 first place prize. With that grant, A.I.R. Lawn Care was born – he put a down payment on a truck and purchased electric lawn equipment.
As an independent business, Zack has been able to develop direct, personal relationships with his customers. He gets to know his clients, their children, their interests, and so on, because he realizes it’s often the little things that matter most.
It was, indeed, little things and attention to detail that led Zack to a leading manufacturer of outdoor power equipment and connections to some of the green industry’s top professionals.
Zack was planning to purchase battery powered equipment and was in the midst of extensive research into the companies and products that would be the best fit for his business. He settled on STIHL battery-powered equipment and while doing research found out that the president of STIHL Inc., Fred Whyte, was an avid bagpipe player. So, along with a letter introducing himself, his company and his decision to purchase STIHL, he sent Mr. Whyte a pair of bagpipe cufflinks. Soon after, he received a personal phone call from Mr. Whyte to thank him for his gift, and the conversation turned to Zack’s business plan.
Mr. Whyte was so impressed with Zack’s commitment and attention to detail, he asked Roger Phelps, promotional communications manager for STIHL Inc., to meet with Zack personally. After a thorough review of Zack’s business plan, STIHL Inc. made the decision to help him start his business by providing several pieces of the Battery KombiSystem. Phelps, who is also a board member of PLANET, the Professional Landcare Network, made a personal introduction for him to PLANET staff who were also impressed and provided Zack a 1one-year complimentary membership.
Phelps also introduced Zack to Independent We Stand, a movement supporting locally owned businesses. Project Manager Bill Brunelle loved Zack’s story and provided A.I.R. Lawncare a complimentary 1-year premium membership.
“I am proud to be a locally owned business and now a part of this national movement,” said Zack. “Locally owned businesses are the backbone of our economy. They provide jobs, service and revenue in the form of taxes to the communities of which they are a part.”
At 23 years old, Zack is paving the way for Gen Y entrepreneurs. A.I.R. Lawn Care is setting the standard for not only small businesses but for green businesses. To learn more about A.I.R. Lawn Care, visit www.airlawncare.com.