From the Front Lines to Front Yards
There’s nothing quite like the great outdoors. That’s how Jeff Baker, of El Dorado, Kansas describes his career path.
It started shortly after high school, when he joined the U.S. Air Force.
“I always had a patriotic mentality,” Baker explains. “I just wanted to have a chance to see what the military was like.” And he sums up the experience in one important word that has followed him to this day: Discipline.
To Serve and Protect
Baker was stationed in Rapid City, S.D. at Ellsworth Air Force Base. Then he served two tours of duty in the Middle East – one in Saudi Arabia and one in Kuwait. He was with security forces, which was like the military police, where his duties involved keeping the air bases secure.
“It was hot,” Baker said of his time overseas. “A culture shock. I was with a bunch of people I didn’t know very well. But you really learn to bond with the people you’re with in the service.”
Those bonds and the skilled training he received followed him as he advanced. And after four years in the Air Force, he moved into law enforcement as a policeman with the El Dorado Police Department in Kansas. That’s where he rose to the rank of patrol sergeant, again spending time out in the community he worked to protect.
When Baker wasn’t on duty, he ran a part-time business mowing lawns. That’s how much he loved being outside. It turned into a nice side business too.
“I had anywhere from 15-25 yards,” Baker says. “And I would have other officers help me on their days off.” But he knew there was more business just waiting for him if he ever wanted to make the time.
That’s when Baker started thinking about a lawn care franchise. After 12 years on the police force, part of him was ready to run his own full-time business… if it came with the right marching orders.
“I’m definitely a person who believes in structure and having systems in place to deliver certain things,” Baker said. He learned that in the military and on the police force. Now he wanted to find that for his own business.
It’s all about following orders, he explained. “In this case, a certain service.”
That’s when Baker found The Grounds Guys, one of the fastest-growing grounds care and lawn maintenance franchisors in North America. He liked that their Code of Care for taking care of customers paralleled the structure he enjoyed in both law enforcement and the military. Baker was also very impressed by the systems and structure that the business had in place, not to mention fellow franchise owners he could consider his peers. In that way, it was a lot like the military.
“In the military, the people you rely on are the people that you’re with,” Baker said. “Franchising is kind of the same thing. Because you can befriend people in your industry, even your competitors. But when you are a part of a franchise, you can call on people with the very same brand, and those people are going to give you solid advice. They are not really competing against you. You are all advancing together.”
Since opening The Grounds Guys of East Wichita in October of 2013, Baker has been advancing nicely. He doesn’t just mow lawns anymore. Today, his business provides irrigation services, sod installation, snow removal, full landscaping and more.
“Once I got up and going, it confirmed my decision that The Grounds Guys was the right business for me,” Baker said. “It’s not just a business. It’s a lifestyle.”
And the results have been amazing. Like his years in the military and on the police force, Baker has learned to prioritize duties at The Grounds Guys.
“There’s no cutting corners,” he said. “There’s no deciding to do something half as good as you should. Just give a good performance, and you will be rewarded.”