In Spring of 2020, shortly after earning a Master’s Degree in Turfgrass Management, Jay Woodring decided to roll the dice on a career change. He sold his house and left his job as an assistant golf course superintendent in Pennsylvania to move to Connecticut and join Teed & Brown, a home lawn care company that’s quickly becoming the “third option“ for professional Turfgrass managers. Later that year, Nate Leiby also moved out to CT from Pennsylvania to join Teed & Brown, bringing a Master’s in Turfgrass Science along with him.
Traditionally, students who graduate with a degree in Turfgrass Science head in two directions; golf course management or sports turf management. There’s a reason that Yankee Stadium and Fenway park look nearly perfect every time a game is on. There’s a reason why conditions generally look pristine at most golf tournaments. The properties are being managed by highly trained experts. But what about those graduates who don’t want to manage sports fields or golf courses?
In 1994, Christopher Brown graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Turfgrass Science from Penn State. He took a job as an Assistant Superintendent at a Connecticut country club not far from where he grew up. Almost immediately, he knew it was a mistake. “For every good job in the industry, there were about 100 qualified applicants, at least a dozen of whom were really good. I didn’t mind working hard, but it was clear to me that success also hinged on a healthy dose of good luck,” recalls Brown.
Soon, Christopher met Peter Teed, someone with a decade of experience in home lawn care. The two quickly realized a strong synergy between Peter’s practical know-how and Christopher’s scientific knowledge. Within a year, Teed & Brown (originally named Grassroots) was in business.
Home lawns make up about 40% of the grass area in the United States, while golf courses comprise only about 3%, and professional sports stadiums comprise a minuscule percentage. Yet, the home lawn care industry employs only a very small number of academically trained Turfgrass experts. Instead, it’s populated largely by individuals who have been trained in a company-developed formulaic system that leaves out any need for expertise. But when problems arise, it can be frustrating for clients who simply want to know what’s going on but can’t get an answer.
Over the last 25 years, Teed & Brown has steadily raised the bar on service quality by adding expertise.
In 2014, Chad Anderson, a former golf course superintendent, joined the team and brought his extensive experience in personnel training and product procurement. Since then, over 10 employees have earned the designation of “Certified Lawn Care Manager” from the National Association of Landscape Professionals, a rigorous, several-month process that involves a great deal of learning and two proctored exams with 200 questions each.
“We’ve shown that there’s a market for expertise,” says Brown. “There are a lot of homeowners who want to hire a team that can truly analyze and diagnose problems, not just spread fertilizer. We feel like we’ve created a nice balance with this company. Some clients want and are willing to pay for the expertise we can provide. Some Turfgrass professionals want another option beyond golf courses and sports fields. We’re able to bring those two groups together.”