Staring out the window and daydreaming can be pretty productive, according to Justin Pitre of Just in Time Yard Services. The landscaping, lawn maintenance snow removal company located in Noeville, Ontario will be celebrating over a decade in business. Justin started his business in 2006.
But the business has roots that go back even further. Back to when Pitre was a kid and he would earn pocket money from cutting the lawn for the people who owned the lot next door.
Not much later, he found himself staring out the window of his classroom in high school.
“I was watching a landscaping company cutting the grass. I thought, I can make a living doing that? That started my dream of having a lawn care business in Grade 10,” says Pitre.
“I like working outside and I love being my own boss. Since then I’ve been pursuing this dream.”
Free money for student entrepreneurs
The summer he turned 19 years old, he applied for a grant the federal government happened to be offering that year.
“I was still in school, which made me eligible to apply for this $3,000 grant called Summer Company,” recalls Pitre.
“I’m probably the oldest successful Summer Company participant. That government grant back in 2006 was lucky timing and money well invested.”
Borrowing his dad’s truck, Pitre bought a new trailer and a basic lawn tractor and mower, and Just In Time Yard Services was born. “It just motivated me to keep going and all these years later I’m still at it,” he says.
Pitre says what’s sustained him is his passion for working outside and making beautiful yards.
“My favorite part of my job is to make my clients happy and see the smiles on their faces,” he says. “When people call me and say, ‘Oh wow you’re already done?’ That makes me feel good.”
Bidding for the big time
By 2009, with a few successful years under his belt, Pitre was ready for the big league and so bid on some good paying regular contracts, even commercial lawn maintenance contracts.
He won a couple contracts with two different large school boards, the Conseil Catholique Nouvel Ontario and Rainbow District School Board, doing the kind of work he watched others do through the school window all those years ago.
“I’m also a contractor doing grass cutting work for the Municipality of Killarney—they have great fish and chips,” he says.
“And I am the contractor for two local liquor stores run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.”
Time for an upgrade
With that kind of steady work, it was time for Pitre to level up his equipment.
“If I could go back in time and speak to my younger self I’d say, ‘Get yourself good equipment,’” he says with a laugh.
Pitre purchased his first zero turn mower in 2009. But he still hung on to the trailer, tractor and of course his dad’s truck, which was costing him more and more to keep running.
“In 2011, I bought my first truck in my name and that’s when I started adding snow plowing to my business,” says Pitre. “The first year, I went out three times because there was barely enough snow—they say it’s bad luck!”
But he’s noticed there’s not a lot of overlap in his seasonal businesses. “I’m in a small area, so most of my lawn clients are not the same clients for plowing. I do have a few I do both for, but they are rare.”
Everything right on track
In December 2015, he bought his first new vehicle. “A 2016 Silverado, which is what I have now. It’s all beautifully wrapped and everything,” says Pitre proudly.
With five schools, two liquor stores, banks, and even a municipality among his 70 lawn jobs, Pitre is considering expanding Just In Time Yard Services.
He is looking at adding more employees, another truck or maybe a whole new crew. Of course, that will only happen if the conditions are right because, in business as in comedy, timing is everything.
Lightning round with Just in Time Yard Services!
Which of your work tools is your favorite?
Two years ago I bought a ¾ Ton Silverado, and I already have 60,000 km on it.
Other than that, my zero turn mower.
I used to use Husqvarna, then in 2014 I switched to Deere and the rest is history. My local dealer’s service is what made the difference. That’s no question.
What’s your favorite Jobber feature?
Once the jobs are done, I just click and the invoices are done. I don’t have to write down what’s been done. Which I used to forget to do.
Now it’s so easy: click, click click and I get paid. What else can you ask for? It’s saved me a lot of headaches.
Your top marketing channel?
I’m proud of my video but I’m still trying to track where people heard of me. One recent client said I was recommended by the local hardware store.
Outside of work tools, what would you never leave home without?
My phone. It’s the only way I can track everything Facebook, email, phone calls—it’s my bible.
Your favorite way to unwind after work?
Spending time with family and getting ready for the next day.
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