Growing a Green Thumb – Colin Casey of LGD Lawn and Landscape

One of the most striking features of the Lakeview neighborhood of New Orleans is the greenery. Lakeview offers its residents a variety of tall trees, lush yards, and wide, grassy neutral grounds to enjoy. However, all of that plant life doesn’t maintain itself. That’s where LGD Lawn and Landscape comes in.

The rapidly-expanding landscaping company specializing in residential and commercial properties was begun by lifetime Lakeview resident Colin Casey, but he wouldn’t have thought that this would be his life’s work when he first entered the workforce.

Lakeview Through-And-Through

Colin Casey grew up in Lakeview and remains there to this day. Only college and Hurricane Katrina were able to temporarily uproot him. He remembered, “Our first house was on General Haig St., and our second house was on Argonne. I went to St. Paul’s over there on Canal, did some time there, did about a day or two at Stuart Hall. Then I went to Christian Brothers, then finished by the skin of my teeth from Jesuit. I barely escaped Jesuit. Then I went and played baseball at Southeastern for three years before I blew my elbow out.”

After college in the early 2000s, Colin returned to New Orleans where he worked in the kitchens of restaurants and dabbled in landscaping through a company that his cousins owned. It was also the time when he began dating the woman he would eventually wed. “I knew Ashley Lenfant through high school. The crowds we ran with were cool with each other, but never really hung out. I had known her and had conversations with her previously. Then I met her at a bar one night in 2003. We hit it off and saw a couple of movies together and that was it.”

One fateful weekend in August 2005, Colin and Ashley traveled to Houston to see the band Black Sabbath. They had no idea that they wouldn’t be returning to the same old New Orleans. “I didn’t even know that Katrina was happening. I didn’t know how bad it was. So we were watching Black Sabbath, and Hurricane Katrina hit that night. The next morning, we woke up and put the TV on and said, ‘What’s going on?’ The city was underwater, and my apartment was done.” After they were unable to return home, Colin and Ashley traveled around the Gulf South before settling in Baton Rouge. Although they were far from home and unsure of their future, Colin and Ashley were absolutely sure that they were going to be together for a long time to come. “Bill Murray said, ‘If you have someone you think is the one, take them and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all over the world, to places that are hard to reach and hard to get out of. And when you land at JFK and you’re still in love with that person, get married.’ We did this whole crazy adventure, but not on purpose. That was the moment I knew this can work. Ashley and I got a place in Baton Rouge. I’d commute every day at 5 AM because I didn’t have my job in the kitchen anymore.”

Strange Times Ahead

Colin began working with his cousins gutting houses which was a much needed service around the entire greater New Orleans area and Northshore. “When we got into New Orleans, one of my cousins had a contractor’s license, so we started gutting houses. We gutted, I’m guessing, 20 to 30 houses just to get some work. Then we started to pick up with landscaping stuff and a lot of cleanup and debris removal. It was blank slates and you just come in and do everything because everything had been demolished. New houses needed new everything. And landscaping was definitely one of the things they needed.”

Over the next few years as the city slowly returned to a new normal, Colin learned a lot about the landscaping business, but he wasn’t sold that it was his future. He said, “I worked with him while they built their business until about 2011. I’d do sub-surface drainage, landscape lighting, and pavers. That’s when I started to learn more about plants, when to plant, when to prune. A lot of that comes from them. They helped me out a lot when it came to my work ethic and learning the whole landscaping industry. I learned the bulk of what I do now from those guys. It’s a testament to them because they gave me an opportunity right in the beginning of my working career. They gave me a lot of managerial roles immediately. I just got thrown into the fire.”

A New World

Also in 2011, Colin started working in medical sales while starting his own grass cutting business. The amount of hours he worked each week seems impossible. “I got a job in medical sales, but I was still cutting 20 yards on the side by myself which was insane. I don’t know why I was doing that to myself. I’d work, go to the hospital, do some cases with these doctors, then I’d come back and get dressed to go cut grass everyday. It got to the point where my wife was like, ‘If you want to do this full time you need to pursue it.’ I still was not ready to do it full time at that point, but I marketed it more then it started to take off.”

After some vigorous marketing efforts, Colin grew 20 yards a week into 100. He started hiring people to take care of the some of the lawns and to begin doing landscaping work. The company was then hired to maintain the yards on a regular basis. “Before long, I got new trucks, then had a crew, then one truck turned into two trucks turned into three. We just kept amassing more maintenance properties. Maintenance is what built the bulk of my business.” Despite the growth of LGD Lawn and Landscape, Colin felt that he shouldn’t quit his day job just yet. In 2017, he got a job with a larger medical sales company.

“Just being honest, it was very corporate and I was at that point where I was just getting burned out because I was working 60 plus hours a week getting up at 5 every morning to go do cases, dealing with phone calls. The guys that worked with me in med sales pushed me like, ‘What are you doing? You’ve got this business, just go all in. You don’t need to do this anymore.’ It just scared me because I was used to both incomes. I talked to my wife about it, and she’s like, ‘Go for it.’” Colin finally went into the landscaping business full time, and it’s done well for him. Colin reports that he doubled LGD’s revenue within a year of leaving medical sales. “The year after that which is this year, sales have grown exponentially. It’s a testament to a bunch of things: me learning a lot of stuff with my cousins’ company, my dad instilled a crazy work ethic within me.”

Settling In

LGD Lawn and Landscape grows more and more each day, and Colin believes his success is due in part to constantly being aware of changes of technology. “We’re embracing technology a lot more. I feel like a lot of people try to fight that and that’s just a bad move. The world is moving at a rapid pace, if you don’t get on board right now, you’re going to get left behind. I think that’s why a lot of businesses fail is because they’re not willing to accept change and they’re not willing to listen to other people within their business like the employees, the managers, they just want to dictate what goes on,” he explained.

LGD Lawn and Landscape is also a frequent vendor at grass care and landscaping conventions across the country. “You have to talk to other people within your industry too, that’s another huge thing that I feel like people don’t do. We’re all in this together. I have friends that own other companies; I like to hear what they’re doing, and they like to hear what I’m doing. It’s not a competition thing to me. It’s good to have friends everywhere, especially within the industry.”

Of course, good, old-fashioned customer service is always key to running and maintaining business, and it’s an integral facet of LGD’s business model. “We have a Rolodex of people that we recommend to people for one time services. Before I would be like, ‘Yeah we don’t do that.’ Now I try to help everyone who calls in. I want them to be like, ‘Oh they couldn’t do it, but they sent me somebody who could do it.’ Customer service. It’s just show up on time, do the job correctly, follow up and make sure the customer likes your product at the end of the day. It’s so simple.”

Not only is Colin’s business growing, his family is growing too. Colin and Ashley, who were wed in 2009, welcomed their daughter Lily on September 13, 2016, and their son is due on February 25, 2020: Mardi Gras day. The Caseys have decided to build their dream home in the Lakeview neighborhood where they’ve lived most of their lives. “Life is good. It’s been a crazy year, about to have another kid, building a house. Most people would say this is the worst idea ever. I told my wife if we can get through this year, we can get through pretty much anything. We got through Hurricane Katrina together! We should be okay.”

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