Dan Kozlarek’s interest in lawn care dates back to his childhood when he saw a company put new sod in his parents’ yard.
“I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to get out with these trucks and get involved,” he said. “As a young child, I was fascinated by that.”
His father had a push mower that had a lower bar he could hold onto and feel like he was helping out with the yard work. By the time he was 7 years old and his family moved from Texas to St. Louis, Missouri, he was mowing on his own and started to mow the neighbors’ lawns to make some money.
Kozlarek, who now lives in Ramsey with his wife and two kids, started a new business out of his home earlier this year called Twin Cities Turf Professionals. He is a one-man operation right now, but will hire more help once the jobs start coming in. He has a goal of having 10 employees within the next five years.
Twin Cities Turf Professionals’ specialties are mowing, fertilization, weed control, irrigation, aeration, overseeding and landscaping during the spring and summer. In the winter, he plans to do snow and ice removal to keep busy.
Every job gave him valuable experience. As a pre-teen, he created marketing flyers he handed out to neighbors of his parents’ St. Louis suburban neighborhood. At his peak, he was mowing up to eight lawns per week. He also help water lawns for a couple of real estate agents selling properties.
His big break came when a golf course superintendent who attended their church offered him a seasonal job when he was 16 years old. At the Lake Forest Country Club, he started out taking care of the more mundane tasks of raking the sand traps and pulling weeds. But his boss and co-workers were great about teaching him the intricacies of maintaining a golf course, which gave him some basic knowledge for lawn care that would later come in handy.
One day, he was able to convince his supervisor to let him use one of the outfront mowers.
“I felt like I hit the jackpot,” he said.
After working at the golf course for a couple of seasons, he was offered a position on a team that helped reconstruct and build golf courses. They installed the underground irrigation systems.
To have a better chance to grow in the industry, he attended Grayson College in Texas and earned a degree in turf management in 2001. He moved to Minnesota the following year.
He continued to hone his skills in how to run a business by working in sales for a company that supplied machines to golf course maintenance teams. For some time, he was not even in lawn maintenance, but worked for a company that supplied construction zone cones, signs and equipment to contractors. But he learned more about sales and bidding on government contracts through this process because he needed to review large road project files before he recommended a bid price.
He also worked for Mickman Brothers in its irrigation and residential sales departments and was with Reliable Garage Door in Coon Rapids as a service technician.
But his ultimate goal was owning his own business, and now that dream has come true. He feels all these various experiences have prepared him for success.
“I’ve spent my whole life working up to this point,” he said.
For more information, visit www.tcturfpros.com, call 763-390-6400 or email [email protected]