Mike Rorie's GroundMasters Truck

Sound Bites from “The Mike Rorie Story”

Mike Rorie was the featured guest on FD2B blog talk radio this week with Jody Shilan and Gail Woolcott. Jody interviewed Mike about how he started his commercial landscaping company, his advice to contractors on branding, and what it’s like to be a vendor to the industry as the owner of Go iLawn, the online property measuring system for the green industry.

Below are some highlights from the broadcast.

Maintenance Services Evolved into GroundMasters, Inc.

Mike Rorie's GroundMasters Truck

One of the very first trucks in the GroundMasters fleet.

“We started as Maintenance Service Inc. because I really didn’t have a clear vision for what I wanted to do, other than something someone would pay me for,” said Rorie. “When we figured it out, that’s when we said we wanted a name that identified us with the landscaping more so than the maintenance servicing.”

Mike and his partner, Gary Kuykendall, had a  Toro mower that was called the Grounds Master 72, a name that resonated with them. So, they wrote a letter to Toro asking if it was alright to use the name and with Toro’s blessing GroundMasters Inc., was born.

Humble Beginnings

“The first year we did about $11,000…the third year we did about $100,000,” said Rorie.

Mike’s notes on his first year in business hangs on his wall today.

“That’s pretty impressive (one) that you know how much you made the first year, I’m sure a lot of companies have no idea, and to grow it to a $100,000  business inside a couple of years, that’s a lot of gutters and a lot of garages to clean,” Shilan said.

“That is for certain..that is what 6 and 1/2 days a week will get you,” Rorie remarked.

The Transition from Residential to Commercial

“We focused on residential maintenance…we were then asked to do some commercial work for some of these residential customers that owned business up in the suburban business market, and when I saw the commercial lawns, I was like ‘wow!’…these people are at their business instead of at their home,” Rorie said.

“It’s just a different market and my personality and ambition was to be at work when people are at work, and we are all talking about business money, not your personal money.”

The Foundation of a Brand

The GroundMasters fleet in the 90’s.

“Your reputation really becomes your brand, or certainly those things are so aligned and connected. So when you’re trying to build a brand…it goes beyond just people know you are a landscape company,” Rorie said.

“No matter what you are trying to do…I don’t care what it is, you need to be very defined in what you want people to say about you.”

His New Passion, Go iLawn

“I love being around contractors, I love hearing their stories…we love selling to the industry, we have worked very hard to produce a software service that we think absolutely is beneficial to a contractor,” said Rorie.

Go iLawn Team Photo

The Go iLawn Team at GIE 2012.

“Just the idea of looking at something before you go and blow an hour riding around to go see it, to me is kind of a no brainer. And then obviously the perspective you can gain from looking at a job in it’s entirety through our software, I just thought it was cool from day one.”

“Selling back to the industry has been fun because we know what our customers are faced with and challenged with.”

Listen Now

To hear the full interview, listen to the broadcast on demand.

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