YES, THIS REALLY IS A NEWSPAPER ADD FROM MARCH 1967
The History of Lawn-A-Mat is really the history of Lawn Care and of the original Green Industry. Being America’s first automated lawn care company, Lawn-A-Mat has spawned many other companies as the green industry blossomed over the last 50 years. Throughout all these years, though, our service philosophy has changed very little. Our goal is to provide the most complete program possible, at an affordable price. We have never relied on low-ball quotes to get jobs and add-ons later to make profits. Our Greenskeeper program fulfills our philosophy. It contains all the products and materials the average homeowner lawn in our area needs to be its’ healthiest, making it the envy of the neighborhood. Whether you live in Bergen, Passaic, Orange or Rockland County, you can count on the history of Lawn-A-Mat for all your fertilizer, weed and insect control, aeration, seed and lime needs as millions of American’s have since 1961. But most of all, you can rely on our experience and truthfulness to say what we do and do what we say.
The History of Lawn-A-Mat starts with the History of the American Lawn
American’s have always loved recreation. The fulfillment of our manifest destiny opened the opportunity of vast new lands to own, to live, to work and to play on. It is easy to imagine the children of the early settlers running through the grass lands of the mid West, while their parents tamed that bold new land. While this is an overly simplistic, romantic view it tugs at our American spirit of adventure. While children always have found ways to play, it was not until just the recent past that the average American adult has had the circumstances of prosper which lead to time for leisure and relaxation. If it wasn’t for this time, there would be no history of lawn-A-Mat.
Beginning in the late 1930’s, the 40 hour work week was established. This parameter on work hours freed up another 20 some hours of time for the American adult and more importantly, it freed up Saturdays which up to that point were just another work day. All this extra time gave people the opportunity to take up hobbies, be outside during the day light hours, and venture farther from home. As people did these things they would often seek out grassy places like parks or fields for picnics, nature watching and play. Front lawns started to become standardized in the 1930s when, over time, specific aspects such as grass type and maintenance methods became popular. The lawn care industry got its’ start but the Great Depression and then World War II made it difficult to maintain the cultural standards that had become heavily associated with the maintenance of turf grass. Then, immediately following World War II, there was a great demand for housing. The returning service people who were gone for four years needed homes. Although most of them had lived with their parents before the war, they had little desire to live with them afterwards. This fact along with the almost 0% growth in new home building during the war, created a huge need. The availability of cheap financing for returning service people was the last factor in the housing boom that soon came. And what came along with all these new suburban homes?…lawns! The history of Lawn-A-Mat was about to begin.
The History of Lawn-A-Mat began on Long Island, NY
Whenever there is a great need, there are entrepreneurs who will capitalize on it. The capitalization started in Levittown, NY and with it the beginning of the American lawn care industry. Between 1946 and 1952, Abraham Levitt and his sons built more than seventeen thousand homes, each with its own area for a lawn. Abraham Levitt wrote “No single feature of a suburban residential community contributes as much to the charm and beauty of the individual home and the locality as well-kept lawns”. Property enhancement was one of the most important factors in the success of Levittown and no feature was more prominent than the turf grass lawn. The Levitt’s understood that landscaping could offset the normal depreciation of a home, adding to the appeal of their developments. In 1948, the first Spring of finished properties, Levitt and Sons reseeded and fertilized many of the lawns free of charge for the homeowners. Now well kept lawns were not just for the wealthy and famous or just the feature of a manicured English estate. The common American could have one to enjoy too. But the common American was not equipped with the tools or knowledge needed to make a lawn look nice. Very quickly, the lawns of Levittown, and other similar areas, disintegrated under the feet of thousands of playing children into nothing better than dusty lots pin-pricked by straggly weeds. These dusty, Long Island lots is where the history of Lawn-A-Mat begins…
The History of Lawn-A-Mat, Part I (1961-1976)
While the efforts of early lawn care industry pioneers can be traced back to around 1915, it was the tree companies and the oil companies who were first to enter the lawn care market with moderate success in the 1950’s. This was because their equipment and materials were somewhat adaptable to the lawn care task. Early pioneering agronomic company were the Davey Tree Co. and Standard Oil, both dabbling in spraying herbicides and eventually fertilization. However, it was not until around 1960 that the technological know how was integrated with the assumption that chemical lawn care could be proposed to homeowners at a cost which would be lower than a trip the the garden center, the materials and the time investment combined. Plus, Americans were beginning to enjoy the services which freed up their time for other pursuits. After all, this was the age of the T.V. dinner.
Enter a young aspiring entrepreneur from Brooklyn, NY who, as a kid, dreamed of applying the principles of mechanized farming to lawn care. Why such a dream would interest anyone is a mystery. But, his ideas would later dramatically cut labor costs, provide efficient service to the suburban customer and be seminal to the birth of the modern automated lawn care industry. His name was Daniel Dorfman and he perfected the design for a machine capable of simultaneously rolling, fertilizing, aerating, seeding and spraying a lawn with one pass. This “combine” machine was pulled by a tractor. It’s patent description was “MULTI-PURPOSE COMBINED MACHINE ADAPTED FOR MOVEMENT OVER THE GROUND AND CAPABLE OF SIMULTANEOUSLY WEEDING, FEEDING AND OTHER TREATMENT OF THE SOIL TO ENHANCE THE GROWTH OF GRASS”, as seen at left. After patenting the machine and incorporating the Lawn-A-Mat Chemical and Equipment Corporation in 1961, his business soared. His small, local Long Island lawn care company did very well and he soon dreamed even bigger. Shortly after, in 1962, he furthered the history of Lawn-A-Mat by selling franchises and found enough interested risk takers to sell over 300 franchises, coast to coast, by 1968. Dorfman realized that his profits, and the profits of his franchisees were being held down by the retail costs and the scarcity of lawn care materials bought primarily from the petroleum and commercial food growing industries. He solved this problem by creating his own distribution division of Lawn-A-Mat with it’s own retail label for lawn care materials named Lawn-A-Magic (found in the pictorial section below). So not only did he sell the franchises and collect yearly franchise fees, he also sold the materials to the franchisees at yet more profit.
With the tremendous success of Lawn-A-Mat as a business model, it was not long before the history of Lawn-A-mat got complicated as many spin off companies arose. In fact, almost all of the automated lawn care companies in America today can trace their heritage back, in one way or another, to the early history of Lawn-A-Mat. Though Lawn Doctor is perhaps the most recognizable, there are literally hundreds of others across America.
In 1977 Daniel Dorfman drove the original Lawn-A-Mat Chemical and Equipment Corporation into bankruptcy, most say deliberately and at huge profit. This ended the history of Lawn-A-Mat, Part I.
The History of Lawn-A-Mat, Part II (1978-1996)
In 1978, after the fracturing of the parent company, and the creation of about 160 new privately owned companies as a result, Lawn-A-Mat of America was formed from the ashes. The history of Lawn-A-Mat was continued by five men from the New York tri-state area who had been involved in franchises of the original company and decided to show up at the bankruptcy hearings to purchase the Lawn-A-Mat name and trademark. These men were:
- Richard Catanzariti – current owner of Lawn-A-Mat of Pascack Valley
- Richard Hillmann – retired owner and father of Rich Hillmann, current owner of Lawn-A-Mat of Franklin Lakes and Lawn-A-Mat of Orange and Rockland
- Edwin Lawlor – retired owner of Lawn-A-Mat of South Bergen
- David Sandlor – retired owner of Lawn-A-Mat of Paterson
- William Scanlon – retired owner and father of Ken Scanlon, current owner of Lawn-A-Mat of Paramus
They cooperatively continued the history of Lawn-A-Mat and the Lawn-A-Mat lawn care philosophy of full service, honest estimates, fair prices and personal accountability. Many of the 260 or so fractured spin offs just pretended to do so while claiming their lineage to Lawn-A-Mat but changing their company names. These are companies like Green-A-Lawn, Save-A-Lawn, Econo-lawn and even Greenskeeper Lawns which bears the name of the Lawn-A-Mat lawn care program. It is truly amazing how Many-A-Lawns there are out there even today. Other former franchisees simply are still today using the name and logo of Lawn-A-Mat despite the trademark being held first by Lawn-A-Mat of America, Inc. and now MMR Management Services, Inc. The remaining owners of Lawn-A-Mat of America decided to allow illegitimate Lawn-A-Mat’s to continue using the name and logo so long as they operate their businesses in a way that did not detract from the common good of continuing legitimate Lawn-A-Mat business endeavors.
The History of Lawn-A-Mat, Part III (1996-Present)
The history of Lawn-A-Mat, Part III is really an evolution of, or perhaps a new chapter of, part II. Lawn-A-Mat continues to provide the best value in the industry as we have stayed true to the full service approach. To go even one step further, we now partner with many local landscapers to provide cutting services to our customers as well.
Ownership changes have occurred throughout the history of Lawn-A-Mat and the lineup is slightly different now. Lawn-A-Mat of South Bergen was purchased and absorbed by Lawn-A-Mat of Pascack Valley which now services the highest number of customers in the eastern and southern parts of Bergen County. Lawn-A-Mat of Paterson was unscrupulously sold out from under the Lawn-A-Mat of America partner’s agreement, with almost 1000 customers going to a competitor and the Paterson territory being absorbed by the remaining partners. Lawn-A-Mat of Orange and Rockland was formed to serve those two NY counties. It has experienced the greatest growth alongside the housing boom in that area and now services the largest area and footage. Lawn-A-Mat of Franklin Lakes and Paramus were each passed on to the next generation and continue to compete in the Bergen and Passaic County area.
The recent Great Recession of 2007 to 2012 hit the green industry very hard, especially in the lawn care segment. As many as 25% of lawn care industry businesses have gone under since 2008. The history of Lawn-A-Mat has not yet ended, however. Staying true to the Lawn-A-Mat model has been difficult in that profits are down and the competition has become even more cut throat and deceptive, forcing us to find other ways to stay afloat. One successful effort has been the addition of Tick and Flea reduction as an optional service. This has been especially popular in Orange County, NY as the deer tick population exploded there in the late 1990’s and 2000’s. Also, just as Dan Dorfman did over 50 years ago, we have turned to new technological innovations to continue the history of Lawn-A-Mat such as ride on spreaders which make our efforts more efficient, allowing one employee to do the work of three in the same time. And then, in 2015, we launched OrganaLawn, Lawn-A-Mat’s first organic-hybrid lawn care program. Presented as an option within our tried but true Greenskeeper program, OrganaLawn promises to reduce pesticide and synthetic fertilizer usage by over 50%. it accomplishes this while adding beneficial microbial life to the soil. As a result of OrganaLawn, Lawn-A-Mat ventures into the future with an organic alternative too. And in 2017, Lawn-A-Mat is offering Moisture Manager which is an optional granular product that can reduce watering needs up to 50% and extend a lawn’s greening well into a Summer drought.
Though some of the times have been tough, the remaining 3 legitimate Lawn-A-Mat entrepreneurs are thriving based staying true to Lawn-A-Mat’s original philosophy of providing all your lawn needs inn one program, for one price. As is self evident, we have now turned to the internet market in an industry where the traditional advertizing mediums no longer generate positive returns on investment. Digital is now king. The history of Lawn-A-Mat continues because we have not given in to an industry where over competition, over expansion, over regulation, an overly poor and inaccurate media portrayal and a lack of integrity now runs amok. Despite challenging conditions, we believe in ourselves, our products, our services, our commitment to our customers and to the history of Lawn-A-Mat.
The History of Lawn-A-Mat in Pictures
The Early Years
The Color Years
The 21st. Century