See comments below: "Any of the states that border Canada are of
particular concern to us," says James. "Canada has been successful in
severely restricting pesticides even when it comes to residential
lawns. Because these states share borders, they are influenced by
decisions made by their northern neighbor."
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press contact: Michael Oko, NRDC, (202) 513-6245
If you are not a member of the press, please write to us at
firstname.lastname@example.org or see our contact page
Leading Environmental Groups Work with Obama's Team to Tackle Top
Groups Provide Recommendations to Transition Team Focusing on Energy,
Climate and Economy
WASHINGTON (November 25, 2008) — Nearly 30 environmental, science and
conservation groups presented their top policy recommendations to
President-elect Barack Obama's transition team yesterday. Representing
millions of Americans, the groups provided a document laying out
recommendations on key federal agencies and issues, including land,
air, water, oceans and public health.
The document reflects President-elect Obama’s early indications that
he will take bold measures to harness American ingenuity to solve the
economic, climate and energy crises. The document demonstrates
agreement with Obama’s call to increase investment in clean, renewable
energy as his top priorities. Such investments would re-power America
and help stabilize the economy over the long-term.
“In November, Americans made their preference clear that the federal
government has a critical role to play in unleashing homegrown,
innovative energy solutions that would create new jobs, reduce global
warming pollution and cut our nation's dependence on oil,” the groups
said in a joint statement. “We welcome this opportunity to collaborate
with the transition team, and to work with President-elect Obama to
move America forward and re-engage with the international community to
reverse eight years of environmental neglect.”
The organizations support the establishment of a federal carbon cap-
and-trade system, which would limit carbon emissions and provide
incentives for companies to reduce global warming pollution. Such a
system is critical to address climate change and raise revenue needed
to transition to a clean energy economy, according to the groups.
The document urges the new administration to act quickly to restore
scientific integrity at federal agencies. Under the Bush
administration, political appointees routinely distorted and
suppressed the work of federal scientists to justify administration
decisions. The groups recommend that President-elect Obama should
ensure that federal science agencies’ decisions will be based on
science, not politics.
The groups also called on the incoming administration to reinvest in
America's commitment to protecting human health and the environment.
Investing in clean water, clean air and conservation not only makes
sound fiscal sense, it also offers the opportunity to create new jobs,
boost local economies and protect America's natural heritage.
During his campaign and in several early policy announcements,
President-elect Obama has signaled he will lead America in a new
direction on the environment, energy and climate, which is strongly
supported by the environmental community.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit
organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists
dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in
1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from
offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco
AMERICAN RIVERS - CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW - CLEAN
WATER ACTION- DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE - EARTHJUSTICE - ENVIRONMENT
AMERICA - ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND - FRIENDS OF THE EARTH -
GREENPEACE - IZAAK WALTON LEAGUE - LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS -
NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY - NATIONAL PARKS CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION -
NATIONAL TRIBAL ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL - NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION -
NATIVE AMERICAN RIGHTS FUND - NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL -
OCEANA - OCEAN CONSERVANCY - PEW ENVIRONMENT GROUP - PHYSICIANS FOR
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY - POPULATION CONNECTION - POPULATION ACTION
INTERNATIONAL- RAILS-TO-TRAILS CONSERVANCY - SIERRA CLUB - THE
WILDERNESS SOCIETY - THE TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND - UNION OF CONCERNED
SCIENTISTS – WORLD WILDLIFE FUND
Related NRDC Webpages:
Switchboard, from NRDC › Blogs › Transition to Green
Related NRDC Documents:
Transition to Green: Leading the Way to a Healthy Environment, a Green
Economy and a Sustainable Future
Transition to Green recommendations (pdf)
Warning Industry Propaganda Below
Lawn and Landscape Magazine
Features >> Legislation
New Show, Old Tricks
New administration could cause floodtide of new and renewed pesticide
By: Tom Crain
For the past eight years under President George W. Bush’s watch, the
pesticide industry has enjoyed mostly calm waters. But now that a new
administration under President Barack Obama is marching in with a
political brigade of some proven industry adversaries and a newly
published report by 28 influential environmental groups containing
strong anti-pesticide rhetoric, Washington insiders are forecasting
the spigots to open up on churning seas ahead.
The combination of a Democratic Administration and Congress will no
doubt revisit the regulatory focus on a number of industries, products
and environmental issues, including the use of pesticides.
Just ask Tom Delaney, director of government affairs for the
Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), an international association
headquartered in Washington, D.C. PLANET represents the professional
lawn care industry before the U.S. Congress and federal agencies such
as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Labor,
Department of Transportation and the Federal Trade Commission.
"The past eight years under President Bush have been fair and less
radical, but the industry is expecting a shift back toward more
pressure on pesticides under an Obama administration," says Delaney.
Allen James, executive director for Responsible Industry for a Sound
Environment (RISE) agrees. RISE is a national not-for-profit trade
association representing producers and suppliers of specialty
pesticides and fertilizers based in Washington, D.C. "The players are
more aggressive and more biased against our industry," he explains.
"We anticipate increased pressures with legislative changes. If there
are, they will begin at the congressional level. If it goes to
hearings, then legislation may come out of that."
The jury is still out on how President Obama himself may act when it
comes to pesticide regulations. But the good news is most political
experts in the pesticides industry agree any legislative actions that
would constrict small businesses or increase their costs won’t be
catching the light of the President’s day while the economy is in the
A PRO-ACTIVE APPROACH. President Obama’s administration will be the
fourth James has worked with on pesticide issues. "Throughout the four
administrations, one thing has remained fairly consistent － the EPA
has continued to take a science-based approach to regulation."
Amy Simpson, spokesperson for TruGreen ChemLawn confirms that "Obama
and his incoming administration have emphasized how important it is
for policy decisions by the EPA, FDA and other related regulatory
agencies to be ‘science based.’ "
This is one of the reasons that Memphis-based TruGreen ChemLawn, the
largest U.S. lawn care company, knows pesticide manufacturers must
continue to provide sound and compelling science on safety issues
regarding their products.
TruGreen is making a number of proactive efforts to ensure it’s
prepared, including the establishment of extensive, formal
environmental stewardship principles, backed by regular monthly and
annual audits within each of its regions; joining the EPA’s Pesticide
Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP), a voluntary partnership
designed to reduce any potential health and environmental risks
associated with pesticide use; introducing a new targeted lawn care
program designed to limit the amount of pesticides used in
applications; and introducing organic lawn care offerings nationwide
"Make no mistake, the green industry is often misrepresented and
underrepresented," warns Delaney. "Pesticides, in particular, take a
beating in the press and in public opinion. And because of that, any
more sympathetic ears to anti-pesticide legislation, no matter how
slight, can have a large impact."
A good example lies with The Transition to Green report endorsed by 28
leading environmental organizations presented to President Obama’s
transition team. The report delivered a one-two punch directly to the
pesticides industry with its top environmental recommendations
including environmental affects on water and children. As a direct
result of this report, The Kids Safe Chemical Act (KSCA) and the Clean
Water Restoration Act (CWRA) are bills that are expected to be
reintroduced early on in the new session of Congress.
Changes just in the definition of what is "navigable" could affect any
application near any small water areas such as manmade lakes and
ponds, drainage ditches, and the like. The group also points to storm
water in urban areas as a problem that needs more regulation. The goal
of KSCA is to produce a strong health-based law that presumes
industrial chemicals "are guilty of producing a toxic body burden
unless proven otherwise." Both these bills have much better chances of
being passed this year.
President Obama has signaled that water quality will be a priority
with increased funding for water clean-up and restoration efforts and
tougher standards for drinking water. Congressional leaders including
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., began last year by examining a
wide range of drinking water contaminants. Some environmental groups
are pushing for increased regulatory efforts to reduce pesticide and
"With a year where there is a change in administration, it is more
important to be concerned about killing any proposed bills and
stopping regulations than focusing efforts on any introductions of new
ones concerned with pesticides," says Delaney. "One of the ways that
small businesses need to be proactive on these issues is to reach out
to the new members of Congress and check out their backgrounds to see
if there are any industry connections."
One good example is the election of U.S. Representative Kathy
Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania’s Third District. She is part owner of
Dahlkemper Landscape Architects and Contractors, a major landscaping
firm in Erie, Penn., and a PLANET member. For the past 11 years, Rep.
Dahlkemper worked as the human resources manager and director of
special projects for the firm. She is also cofounder and director of
the Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park.
"We always hear that small business owners don’t have the time to be
actively involved in pesticide legislation issues," James says.
"Instead, they may just hope for the best while focusing on their
business. In light of what is going on with increasing pressures (on
pesticide legislation and the new administration), hoping for the best
won’t be enough."
"Anti-pesticide advocates know how to play up emotions," agrees Paul
McDonough, chair of PLANET’s Government Affairs Committee. "For
whatever reason, the green industry tends to shy away from playing
McDonough believes that, for example, if the industry would paint a
scenario where the urban dwellers’ precious green space would stop
being managed by pesticides and other critical tools like they are
now, property values, environmental quality, safety and desired
aesthetics would be in jeopardy, severely affecting urban quality of
life. "That’s the type of thing we need to trumpet in front of the
media and our legislators," he says.
Both PLANET and RISE advocate that lawn care businesses, particularly
now, need to get seriously involved. This means being part of their
local lawn care association, becoming active in planning and keeping a
thumb in what is going on with the industry.
When lawn care businesses are tuned out, it can have devastating
results, industry experts say. "We have already seen a situation where
neighborhood notification for residential pesticide application has
become mandatory," James explains. "Do you know what a hassle in cost
and time that is for lawn care operators working in this community? If
there was pressure from the other side on the local councilperson when
the ordinance was being introduced, this probably would never have
Many states in the northeast, particularly Connecticut, Massachusetts,
Maryland and New York, are trying to get legislation passed to start
allowing local jurisdictions to regulate pesticides. The Long Island
Neighborhood Network helped draft and for the past nine years fought
for the passage of neighbor notification of pesticide spraying
legislation. As a result, New York State enacted a first-in-the-nation
Neighbor Notice law. This legislation requires commercial pesticide
applicators to notify homeowners living adjacent to the property being
sprayed prior to application. The notice must include the location and
date of the application, the name of the pesticide(s) being used, and
the company’s name, telephone number and business registration number.
"Any of the states that border Canada are of particular concern to
us," says James. "Canada has been successful in severely restricting
pesticides even when it comes to residential lawns. Because these
states share borders, they are influenced by decisions made by their
As is often the case, California may well serve as a bellwether for
legislative efforts at the federal level.
The Golden State has created its own EPA with its own independent
review of pesticides. Many homegrown "anti-pesticide" legislators have
risen to power at the national level (see "The Not So Magnificent 7"
on page 76.). Currently in California, state law preempts local
governments from creating their own regulations regarding pesticide
use; however, there has been a recent attempt by the legislature to
eliminate or modify this statewide preemption to allow localized
regulation of pesticide use. Additionally, California has passed
legislation to eliminate the use of specified pesticides on school
sites (AB 405, Montanez, 2005).
With respect to pesticides generally, California’s Green Chemistry
Initiative aims to minimize the use of toxins and develop "safer"
alternatives and, additionally, provide greater information on the use
of chemicals in products. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently
signed into law regulations authorizing the Department of Toxic
Substances Control (DTSC) to identify and prioritize chemicals of
concern and develop safer alternatives. Another new law would
establish an online Toxics Information Clearinghouse.
Delaney cautions: "Those to watch out for are the career people
(within the EPA or other related regulatory agencies) who have had a
record of being less balanced on regulating pesticides. If they
haven’t been successful in the past, they may now have new support
from newly-appointed political officials above them.
"We could see renewed efforts to ban such pesticides as 2,4-D or
herbicides such as monosodium methanearsonate (MSMA); however, what
could throw a monkey wrench into this type of action is how it could
affect small businesses by killing jobs or costing too much," Delaney
adds. "That’s the industry’s ace in the hole for now."
The author is a freelance writer based in Akron, Ohio.
Lawn and Landscape
Attitude is Everything
With a perpetual smile and can-do demeanor, Jen Lemcke helps lawn care
operators – both in the Weed Man organization and out – grow their
When Jennifer Lemcke first began with Weed Man at age 23 in 1993, she
was known around the industry as Roger Mongeon’s daughter.
At the time, the father and daughter were Weed Man franchisees; today
Lemcke is COO and Mongeon is CEO of Turf Holdings, the franchising arm
of Weed Man USA.
These days when Mongeon meets industry associates they say, “Oh,
you’re Jen’s dad.” He wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jen Lemcke is one of Lawn & Landscape and Bayer Environmental
Science's six Leadership Award winners for 2008.
“Her mother and I are very proud of all her achievements with Weed Man
and her role in PLANET [the Professional Landcare Network],” Mongeon
says. “It’s hard as a father because you don’t want to brag too much,
but every time I talk to people in the industry about Jen, they always
put her at such a high level.”
So many people outside of Weed Man know Lemcke because she’s a
frequent speaker at industry conferences and seminars, and she’s on
PLANET’s board of directors. The topic she usually speaks about is her
passion – business systems and organization. Colleagues often refer to
Lemcke, who favors color-coded binders and provides franchisees with
shopping lists, as “The Spreadsheet Queen.” Fittingly, her primary
responsibilities at Weed Man are creating systems, support and
training programs for subfranchisors and franchisees.
Though it’s Lemcke’s job to assist Weed Man franchisees in advancing
their businesses, she has cast her net much farther than her job
description requires, says Phil Fogarty, subfranchisor for Weed Man in
Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Because of all the time she’s devoted
to helping other companies – whether it’s a Weed Man franchise owner
or someone attending a speaking engagement where she’s volunteering
her time – she’s changed hundreds of people’s minds and attitudes
about management skills and systems. “I’ve seen her work with brand
new franchisees who own little landscape companies,” Fogarty says. “By
the time she’s trained them with Weed Man systems, their landscape
companies have taken off. Then those guys become more active in the
industry and it proliferates in all of us becoming better business
people. She makes everyone around her want to be a better
FIRST TASTE. Early on, Lemcke had no interest in lawn care. In 1986
when she was 16, her father left his job as a chemical engineer at
Union Carbide to purchase a Weed Man franchise after a neighbor had
met success in the business. Though she had done odd jobs for Weed Man
during her teenage years, Lemcke told her father she no intention of
working for him in the future.
Her position today would certainly surprise her former self. Despite
an early lack of interest, Lemcke says she leads a satisfying career
because, though in an indirect way, she has the career she’s always
wanted. When she entered Ottawa University, she didn’t have a clear
career focus, so she chose to study political science. “I thought it
would be a stepping stone to law or teaching,” she says.
Though Lemcke didn’t end up in the education profession, in many ways
she is a teacher. Her first job after college sharpened her interest
in this area and prepared her for her future role specializing in
developing training and systems. Lemcke took several communications
courses in college, which helped her get a job with the university’s
telecommunications department. Here she served as a teacher-student
liaison and was responsible for maintaining a system that broadcast
televised classes to students studying remotely.
Lemcke learned a lot from her first post-college job – especially from
her former boss, Don McDonough. “I don’t think he knows just how much
he’s impacted me,” she says. “If I had an issue he’d say, ‘Don’t come
to me unless you already have the answer.’ He always made me realize
that no one’s going to help me but me.”
This is the fifth installment of a weekly series that recognizes
six green industry leaders. Lawn & Landscape, along with Bayer
Environmental Science, honored these professionals at a reception Oct.
24 at the Green Industry and Equipment Expo in Louisville, Ky.
Click here to read the welcome letter from Neil Cleveland,
Bayer's director of U.S. green services.
Possibly as a result of that experience, and certainly as a result of
her upbringing and indoctrination to the Weed Man system, Lemcke
carries with her a can-do attitude wherever she goes.
GETTING STARTED. Because of their close relationship, Mongeon had
shared many details about Weed Man with Lemcke. “I think she began to
see the business wasn’t just about fertilizing and controlling weeds
and insects,” Mongeon says. “There was a lot of marketing,
administration and employee relations, and that intrigued her.” Though
Lemcke’s husband-to-be, Chris Lemcke, was studying criminology, he was
interested in business, too, as some of his family members are
entrepreneurs. By the time Mongeon approached his daughter and future
son-in-law about their interest in joining his growing Weed Man
network as management trainees, they already knew their answer.
Parent-child relationships often can get complicated in business, with
favoritism and entitlement at the forefront of many co-workers’
complaints. But the intense training Mongeon gave the couple was more
than enough to prevent anyone from thinking Lemcke was getting a free
ride. The trainees did everything there was to do at the franchise
level – including answering phones, making lawn applications,
telemarketing and more.
“I may have been harder on her in the sense that I was making sure
people didn’t think she only had the job because she was my daughter,”
Mongeon says. “I was extremely conscious of that. I wanted her to earn
the respect of people before she got the job. Everyone I’ve ever
talked to about that issue has said, ‘She’s earned everything she’s
Lemcke calls that experience her greatest asset. “He truly worked us
from the bottom of the barrel,” Lemcke says. “When Chris and I opened
the next year, our training put us in a great position,” she says. “We
knew what to do and how to do it.”
Her can-do attitude during that time proved she had a ton of
leadership potential, Mongeon says. “She always had a smile on her
face.” He recalls an instance when he knew his daughter would flourish
in her role. After the year-long training, Lemcke was promoted to
manager of the Ottawa franchise. Part of her new role was conducting
sales training. Mongeon remembers the first three-hour training
session Lemcke was slated to conduct. “I told her I’d do the first
hour and a half, and she would take over after the break,” he says.
His daughter was nervous, he recalls, unsure how the room of middle-
aged men would respond to instruction from a 23-year-old. “When it was
her turn, her voice was firm and everyone’s eyes were fixed on her,”
says Mongeon, who was confident in his daughter’s abilities because
her training had been so thorough. “She was magnetizing. After 15
minutes I called a break and said ‘Jen, you don’t need me.’”
Going into the session, Mongeon believed his daughter had the
knowledge to succeed, but coming out of it, he knew she possessed that
“something extra” that’s the hallmark of a true leader.
MOVING UP. Before Lemcke was promoted to manager of the Ottawa
location, Mongeon, who owned franchises in Hull and Montreal, Quebec,
had assembled a group of shareholders to expand into Ontario. After
forming this group, known as 1051080 Ontario Inc., which is a holding
company that operates Weed Man franchises across Canada and
subsequently purchased the rights to sell Weed Man franchises across
the U.S., with his daughter, son-in-law and a group of family members
and friends, the Lemckes went to Ottawa to take over operations of an
During their five years in Ottawa, they grew annual revenue from
$200,000 to $2 million. Much of their success came from what would
become Lemcke’s specialty – developing and implementing standardized
training manuals, PowerPoint presentations and ensuring operational
Next, Mongeon asked the Lemckes to help run the Scarborough office.
Part of Lemcke’s duties at this time, during the Y2K scare, were to
convert the operations’ existing Unix-based software to a Microsoft
platform. Lemcke says her experience on this project working closely
with the programmer helped “round out” her management skills.
Part of the reason Mongeon brought Lemcke to Scarborough was to assist
with the development of Weed Man USA, the rights to which the holding
company had acquired from Weed Man founder Des Rice. By August 2000,
Lemcke was vice president of operations, helping her father execute
his concept of recruiting American lawn care veterans to be regional
During the first year their U.S. franchising arm, known as Turf
Holdings, aimed to sell three subfranchises and three franchises. They
sold seven and 21, respectively.
Today, Lemcke is responsible for training and supporting Weed Man’s 14
U.S. subfranchisors and 100-plus franchisees. In many ways, her
current role brings her full-circle to her first job out of college
working for the university’s telecommunications department. “In the
vein of education – that’s what I do now,” she says.
Though she’s been coordinating training programs and managing
employees for nearly her whole career, Lemcke says it wasn’t until the
time her now 13-year-old daughter started school that she had her “a-
ha” moment in managing and communicating with people. “It came to me
when I was sitting at the kitchen table with my daughter,” Lemcke
says. “She was struggling a bit and needed hands-on work with reading
and math. She just wasn’t seeing things the way I was. I came to the
realization that I was trying to make her learn like me.” Once Lemcke
pinpointed the problem – two different learning styles – she was able
to focus on helping her daughter through alternative techniques. “Now
she’s a straight-A student,” Lemcke says. “Her strategies are just
different than mine.”
As a result of such experiences interacting with her children, Lemcke
has broadened Weed Man’s training resources. “There are manuals,
PowerPoints, Webinars – everything,” she says. “So if you have a
different style than I do, you have an opportunity to learn and
succeed just like everyone else.”
In some ways, motherhood is one of Lemcke’s greatest leadership
assets, her husband says. “With employees, just like with our kids,
she wants to develop and grow leaders,” he says. “She’s always asking,
‘How can I help to make my children or my employees the best they can
Because she believes people aren’t born leaders – they choose to lead,
Lemcke characterizes her own leadership style as focused on
cultivating others’ talents. Part of that requires letting people make
mistakes, but being there to help them with the resolution, she says.
But before that, you set them up to succeed with the training, systems
and tools required to get the job done. “Then you say, conceptually,
this is what I want, go and do it. It’s good for people to explore,
spread their wings and do what feels right. That’s when they’re apt
not to make mistakes,” she says.
Lemcke recalls a recent decision to delegate the formation of an
internship program to one of her detail-oriented employees. “I knew it
was exactly what he would shine at,” she says. “He came up with the
most amazing program. We sent it out to universities and associations
and received rave reviews.
“Putting people in the right spot and giving them the opportunity to
shine is a pretty awesome thing,” Lemcke says. “As their confidence
grows their outcomes become so much better. The ultimate testimony of
you as a person and as a leader is the success of the people around
LEADING THE WAY. People respond to Lemcke and her leadership style for
two reasons, Fogarty says: “It’s her positive, reassuring aura coupled
with the incredible competence in everything she does.”
Others agree that it’s the right mix of intangibles like charisma and
an upbeat attitude plus the quantifiable results she delivers that
make Lemcke a leader to follow. “Her leadership abilities are probably
the best I’ve seen from anyone,” her husband says. “She does
everything to the hundredth degree; she makes sure she knows every
detail inside and out and she works tirelessly, putting in a lot of
hours. Because of that, it’s hard to doubt her.”
If you ask her, Lemcke says the greatest influence on her leadership
style has been her father. “He’s always taught me to work hard and be
fully committed to what you’re doing,” she says. “He’s also shown me
that when you run a business, you always do it with integrity because
at the end of the day that’s all you have left.”
Those around her say Lemcke’s compassion and kindness round out her
leadership strengths. “When people talk, she listens completely until
she understands,” Chris Lemcke says. “She’s so compassionate – I’ve
never seen her be biased to anyone. She’s completely open-minded and
that creates an all-around leader.”
People not only respect Lemcke, Fogarty says, but they love being
around her because of her perpetual smile, reassuring attitude and
kindness. He refers to an often-quoted saying that he believes
encapsulates Lemcke: “No one cares how much you know until they know
how much you care.”
“That’s Jen Lemcke in one sentence,” he says. “She just cares so much
about every person, project, company and association she becomes
* By: Marisa Palmieri
Feb 1, 2007
Irrigation for Green Industry
Close Up Profile
CHRIS & JENNIFER LEMCKE AND ROGER MONGEON
By DENNE GOLDSTEIN
As with many corporate executives, Roger Mongeon, a chemical engineer
who worked for Union Carbide, found himself being transferred around
the provinces of Canada. His children were growing up, and moving from
city to city, changing schools frequently, was getting a bit trying.
Mongeon started thinking about going into business for himself, and
getting out of the corporate world. By the mid-1980s, he found himself
in Ajax, Canada, a small suburb of Toronto. He looked at a number of
different retail stores and other opportunities. While there, he
befriended his nextdoor neighbor, who owned a Weed Man franchise.
Still looking to make a career change, Mongeon showed some interest in
Weed Man. After his neighbor opened his books to him, Mongeon was
impressed by what he saw, and in 1986 he purchased a Weed Man
franchise for Hull, Quebec, Canada. Weed Man is a lawn care franchise
that applies fertilizer, weed control and insect control on clients?
Once again the family moved, this time to Hull. His daughter,
Jennifer, was 15 years old then and still in high school. In her spare
time, she would help out doing some telemarketing and office work. The
business took off, and a few years later Mongeon bought seven
territories in Montreal. Jennifer, who was now out of high school,
decided not to follow the family to Montreal. She enrolled at the
University of Ottawa, where she met Chris Lemcke. He too was a student
at the university, earning his degree in criminal justice; he wanted
to become a police officer.
Jennifer, in her last year of college, decided to take some time off
and went to work for the university. She worked in the
telecommunications area for two years, sending college courses to the
remote campuses in Northern Canada. It was at this time that Jennifer
and Chris were married.
By 1992, Mongeon owned the Hull, Quebec franchise, as well as those in
Montreal. Business was flourishing. He called Jennifer and Chris,
inviting them to join the business, and they did. During that first
year, Jennifer polished her telemarketing skills, worked in the
office, made door-to-door sales calls, worked on a truck applying the
materials, etc. She learned the business from every aspect, and did it
Just a year later, a small group of individuals, comprised of their
family and friends, joined forces to open multiple franchises across
Canada. Then, Jennifer and Chris took over the rights to run the Weed
Man Ottawa franchise. This group encountered major success in several
markets, and went on to turn their attention to the U.S. In 1996, they
purchased the rights from Des Rice, the founder of Weed Man, to sell
franchises in the United States, and Turf Holdings, Inc., was created
for this purpose.
In 2000, Jennifer was asked to join the existing Turf Holdings team,
where she currently holds the title of chief operating officer.
It was felt that selling franchises in the United States required a
different strategy. Roger Mongeon embraced some members of the old
Professional Lawn Care Association of America (PLCAA) and presented a
plan for opening the states: have sub-franchisees purchase large areas
of the U.S. and sell franchises within their territory. In that way,
they could be closer to their franchisees and be of more help to them.
The original projection was to sign up three sub-franchisees and three
franchises. At the roll-out, they sold seven sub-franchisees and 28
franchises. Today, there are 14 sub-franchisees and 100 franchises in
the U.S., and Weed Man is growing at approximately 15% annually.
?Everyone who goes into business is challenged,? remarks Jennifer. ?
They are challenged to succeed; they are challenged to grow, etc. I
believe our greatest challenges lie ahead of us. We are already
experiencing regulatory restraints, some insecticides and herbicides
have already been banned in 12 municipalities, and 100 or so
municipalities in Canada have some regulations already in place.?
?Our major challenge is to develop material that will give the
homeowner the desired results of a nice green turf while still working
within the regulatory boundaries. We believe that within the next ten
years, there will be a huge push in the lawn care market toward
?We?re experimenting using biological controls for insects and beet
juice for control of some weeds and fertilizing the lawns. Although
there have been some successes, we still have a long way to go. More
importantly, we?re going to have to educate our customers that they
should not expect a weed-free lawn in the future as organic controls
go only so far,? explained Jennifer.
However, as exciting as it is to be on the cutting edge, the
transition from chemicals to organic and biological materials offers a
challenge for the entire lawn care market. Because it seems that
Canada has more regulations in place and because of their strong
position in the Canadian market, Weed Man might pave the way for the
lawn care market of the future.
Jennifer is very active with the Professional LandCare Networt
(PLANET). She sits on its board of directors, and is secretary of the
organization. ?Growing a company is a lot of fun, but make no mistake,
it requires a major commitment of time,? says Jennifer. ?It?s great to
love what you?re doing.?
So, what do Chris and Jennifer do in their off-time? ?Our kids are
very active in sports; we?re busy going from one arena to another to
cheer them on,? Jennifer says. ?With all the traveling we do, spending
time with the family is always something we look forward to.? The
Lemckes have three children, Jessica, 11, Justin, 10, and Joshua, 8.
?These are exciting times,? muses Jennifer. Though raising a family
and having such an active career is a challenge, Jennifer truly ?loves
what she is doing.?
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