Celebrating our 35th Anniversary earlier this week was a great opportunity for reflection but as our chairman Tom Hofer so eloquently put it, “Let’s not spend too much time on the past because we can’t change any of it. What we can change is our future and the work we are doing today will affect all of our futures, so enjoy it!”
While many at our company lived the past not everyone knows it. So I want to share some of the highlights that you may find interesting. The story of Spring-Green Lawn Care is one of hard work, family values and entrepreneurship. Enjoy!
While growing up in the 1950s, Bill Fischer and Tom Hofer were both working on their respective family farms, learning the value of a hard day’s work while wondering what the future would bring. While at the University of Illinois studying agriculture economics, the two joined the same fraternity and developed a long standing friendship and a mutual appreciation for opportunities that existed outside of returning to the family farm. Bill and Tom headed in different directions after college but were both determined to create a bright future. Tom went off to the Vietnam War where he became a Navy pilot conducting anti-submarine missions. Bill become involved in a brand new industry called lawn care and in 1977 he founded Spring-Green Lawn Care.
In 1978 Bill and Tom would reconnect. The lawn care industry was still in its infancy and few people were aware of the need for a lawn care service but that was part of the appeal for these two young entrepreneurs. Both men evaluated franchising as a vehicle to replicate this new home service and Tom became one of the first Spring-Green franchisees. Within three years Tom’s franchise had achieved great success, doubling in size each year.
The success of Tom’s franchise fueled both men’s passions to expand the business even further and in 1980 Tom Hofer rolled his successful franchised business into Spring-Green Lawn Care Corp. and joined Spring-Green’s executive team. The company began taking shape as an organization committed to franchising and its franchise owners. The common values and principles established then still shape the Spring-Green organization today: honesty, integrity and fair play.
In 1982 Bill helped form the lawn care industry’s first trade association (now known as PLANET) bringing exposure to this new trade. Spring-Green became a charter member and Bill later went on to serve as President of the association.
In 1987 Tom Hofer assumed the role of President and CEO after Bill Fischer ended his battle with cancer. Spring-Green Lawn Care continued its evolution under the guidance of the former Navy Lieutenant. It became a lawn and tree care organization made up of professional people who are very good at what they do and take their responsibilities seriously. The Spring-Green franchise system grew rapidly in the Midwest and expanded throughout the East, South, Southeast and Pacific Northwest.
In the 1990s the lawn care industry faced several new challenges as the scrutiny of legislators increased and as several lawn care companies were bought and merged into one large competitor, TruGreen. But unlike many other companies in the industry Spring-Green came out of the decade as a stronger company. Spring-Green expanded and grew its company-owned franchises significantly and the increased royalties from this growth helped fund a significant reinvestment in the support structure of the franchise system.
In recent years Tom has focused his efforts on shaping Spring-Green’s transition to the next generation. James Young was brought in during 2004 and has become the President of Spring-Green Lawn Care Corp. Tom’s son, Ted Hofer, joined the company in 2005 and transitioned into the CEO role in 2010. The focus more than ever has been on reaching the company’s long-term goals through “Growth thru Independently-Owned Franchises"
Today, Spring-Green delivers both traditional and organic lawn and tree care services in 26 states. Our services are centered on the beautification of middle class and affluent neighborhoods and communities. Our customers include both residential and commercial establishments.