Upstate lawn-loving homeowners can appeal to grass nerds

If you’re green with envy over the grass on the other side of the fence, the Grass Nerds want you to call them.

Grass Nerds technicians – decked out in designer goggles and suspenders – can fertilize your lawn and shrubs, apply weed control, aerate your garden and apply pesticides to control insects ranging from fire ants to mosquitoes.

Equally important, Grass Nerds apply the best-suited products in the optimal amounts at the right time of year, says company owner Derek Gracely.

“It’s super cheesy. But it’s pretty fun stuff for me,” he says.

Customers often ask if products are safe. “If you apply them correctly, they are safe. We use teaspoons of chemicals per thousand square feet of your garden,” says Gracely. “It’s like aspirin. Aspirin is a chemical. If you take 16, they can hurt you, but if you take the right amount, it will get rid of your headaches. If you don’t follow label directions, a chemical can hurt you.

Grass Nerds’ customers are primarily residential, but the company also has larger commercial customers, such as apartment complexes and business parks. If you’ve attended a Greenville Drive game in the past nine years, you’ve seen the work of the company – the meticulously manicured indoor and outdoor grass at Fluor Field.

Gracely launched the Grass Nerds brand in Greenville in 2015 as part of Capstone Landscape Management, which he founded in 2007. Earlier this year he sold Capstone to focus on growing Grass Nerds.

Grass Nerds has grown from 138 customers to approximately 2,500 and now the company treats over 13 million square feet of lawns. The company operates seven trucks and has two more on order. The 14 employees serve the Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson areas.

Grass Nerds won the 2022 Best of the Upstate Community Choice Award, presented by Greenville News.

The average customer spends between $550 and $750 a year, Gracely says.

“So it’s not just for the super-rich. A typical request costs between $50 and $70 per request. Our basic lawn care program typically consists of seven applications per year, and we offer other services and packages,” he says.

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Gracely, who has a marketing degree from Clemson, says he calculated the cost of a good spreader, sprayer, fertilizer and other chemicals, and that was equivalent to three years of spray treatments. Grass Nerds.

These treatments also come with the guaranteed service of Grass Nerds.

Gracely says she learned from her mentors that a “great customer experience” is just as important as a company’s product.

“I don’t care if we have 100 customers or 100,000 customers, I want each of them to feel like part of this family, this team. That’s what we preach to the whole company. This what we do best is care about people,” he says.

New customers receive a handwritten thank you note; clients in need receive care packages — it’s all part of the Grass Nerds service approach, he says.

Gracely still spends time on the court – “My hands are dirty today,” he said in an interview. “I think it’s important that our customers get a great product, and I always make sure to thank customers for their trust. We put food on our tables because our customers choose us.

Even so, dirty hands are exactly what Gracely’s parents hoped he could avoid; they didn’t want him to work as hard as they did. Gracely is a fifth generation Greenvillian. His four children, with another on the way, will be the sixth generation.

“My father was a welder at GE for 37 years. He told me, ‘Go to school and learn so you don’t have to dig ditches for the rest of your life.’ »

After attending Clemson on a scholarship, Gracely returned to Greenville and took a job with a big company.

Grass Nerds technicians - decked out in designer goggles and suspenders - fertilize, apply weed killers and pesticides, and aerate their clients' gardens.

“For three and a half years I sat in a cubicle all day and hated every second of it,” he says. “I remember looking out the window and thinking, ‘I’d rather be digging ditches.'”

Gracely decided what he really wanted was his own business. Equipped with little more than a well-used truck that once belonged to a pest control company, he left his box, said goodbye to the corporate world and started a landscaping business – despite his little experience in the field.

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Lawn and shrub care was new to Gracely, “but hard work, determination and a willingness to learn were not,” he says. “People ask, ‘How did you grow your business?’ I say, ‘You will cultivate it when you are hungry enough.'”

To do business, he opened his phone and started calling everyone he knew.

He researched, asked a lot of questions and learned on his own. “I like to learn,” he says.

Gracely took classes, joined the National Association of Landscape Professionals, attended events and found a mentor. He went to nurseries and stayed there for hours, reading labels and asking questions. He did the same in stores that sold lawn care chemicals.

“I bombarded them with questions – to the point that they asked me if I was ever going to buy something. I told them that I had no money. “But one day, I will buy something. »

The company now spends $500,000 a year with chemical suppliers, who look forward to working with Grass Nerds as it continues to grow, Gracely says.

Gracely’s says its goal for the next three to five years is to reach 5% of the local market, or about 8,000 customers.

“We want to grow here. We do not want to create branches. We don’t want to create franchises. We want to be the best lawn care company Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson have ever seen.

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