Dave’s interest in landscaping started at a very young age. He spent many a day pestering a retired older next-door neighbor while he toiled in his vegetable garden. As his neighbor became less able to do the physical job of mowing his lawn and weeding his garden, Dave became his apprentice. When he started out he used a Reo reel mower that had a separate pull cord with a knot on one end and a small wooden handle at the other. No built in recoil; to start it you wound the cord onto the engine and gave it a pull. Once it started you engaged a belt that drove the hard narrow drive wheels and held on tight while it took you for a fast semi-controlled walk up and down the lawn. Dave’s not sure if he controlled the mower or the mower just dragged him around while he was holding on for dear life.
By age seven Dave had his own small tomato garden along the sunny side of his parent’s garage. This is when he started to develop his love of planting, nurturing and watching plants grow. A few more years went by and Dave was mowing another lawn or two. By this time his parents had upgraded from a push reel mower to a 21" 2-cycle motorized Lawn Boy. He walked from one house to the next pushing his family’s mower, and carrying a glass milk jug of mixed gas, broom, and hand sheers down the sidewalk. In the early to mid ’60s backpack blowers and 2-cycle line trimmers would have seemed like something out of the Jetsons. The Black and Decker battery hand shears had hit the market at some point but the battery always seemed to need charging so sheep sheers or English sheers were the implements of choice. You held them palm up.
Fast forward to Dave in junior high or early high school. Dave was asked if he wanted to take over a mowing route that his best friend’s older brother was abandoning. The answer was yes. With that response Dave graduated to having his own business, beginner status as it was, and landscape experience at its most rudimentary level. Nonetheless hard work and dealing with plants, lawns and a list of customers became a part of his daily routine during the landscape season. His business grew as much as it could with the limitation of having to walk a small compliment of equipment from job to job.
A couple more years went by and alas, Dave was of age to get his driver’s license. His brother went into the army and left behind a 1962 Corvair that soon sported a hitch and a small utility trailer. This newfound mobility was the beginning of Dave’s work in other parts of town and even two neighboring towns! It wasn’t long until he acquired a used 36" Goodall walk behind mower from the town cemetery. And at some point he even graduated to a power line trimmer. Eventually, in the early ’70s, push blowers started to come into use and he made sure he had one of those too. They were the more common cleanup machines until backpacks finally came onto the market.
Following high school graduation Dave attended UMass Amherst majoring in business management. Sometime during his college years he purchased a used Ford ¾ ton 1968 Mass. Fish and Game rack body truck. Wow, the first work truck! Fish and game green with a big straight six engine. The truck doubled as transportation to get Dave to Amherst and back home to Arlington on holiday breaks. It wasn’t something you would use for a date but at UMass you didn’t need wheels to find a party. By his Junior or Senior year in college Dave was a legitimate, insured and tax paying landscape business.
Dave graduated from UMass in 1976 with a degree in business, through he took all his electives and science courses in landscape related subjects. He was even able to take his pesticide operator’s license exam as part of one of his entomology courses. As a student at the UMass he was allowed to take courses at Stockbridge as well. There he took courses like Agrostology and Drainage and Irrigation, which weren’t available in the UMass curriculum.
His first nine or ten years of landscaping were spent in the Arlington, Belmont, Winchester, Lexington area of Massachusetts. In the late ’80s he sold his Massachusetts-based business and moved to Wolfeboro NH. There he started Carroll County Landscape, a design/build landscape business. They are now full service having added maintenance and gardening to their list of services.
Dave is proud to be a member of the NH Landscape Association and a NH Certified Landscape Professional. He helped originate the certification program and has stayed involved over the years as a member of the Certification Committee. He has formed many great relationships over the past 30 years as an NHLA member and past president. He now considers most of his NHLA acquaintances as close friends as much as industry peers. Dave says that ‘The networking at meetings and events has been invaluable and the friendships and camaraderie ‘priceless’ as they say. It’s a fantastic organization to be part of. I’ve always been impressed with NHLA members’ willingness to share information and ideas and with the dedication they all have to the industry.’
It’s been a long and enjoyable ride for Dave since the days of following Mr. Barker around his garden. For more of the nitty gritty of Dave’s story you can visit Carroll County’s website (www.carrollcountylandscape.com/) and browse through his resume.
The individuals featured in this column (also on the website) are NH Certified Landscape Professionals. If you are interested in becoming an NHCLP, please find out more information on page 5 and on our website, www.nhlaonline.org.
If you are already an NHCLP and would like to be featured, please send an article and 300 dpi jpeg of yourself to Patty Laughlin, Lorax Landscaping, 603-303-0179, firstname.lastname@example.org.