Five Questions: Jerry Grutz

Jerry Grutz (Photo: Lou Ferraro)
Jerry Grutz (Photo: Lou Ferraro)
Jerry Grutz (Photo: Lou Ferraro)
Photo: Lou Ferraro

Jerry Grutz

Owner, Lawn Doctor of Madison (Wis.), Dubuque (Iowa) and La Crosse (Wis.)

1. How did you get into the business?

I used to work for a furniture factory here in Dubuque. I was there for 20 years. It was a good job: good pay, five weeks vacation. And then I thought, ‘Am I going to stay here another 20 years?’ I was about 40 years old, and I decided to get into lawn care. I wanted to work outdoors. The first three, four months, I worked at the furniture factory and also did lawn care. It got to the point that I was doing both jobs half-assed. I decided, if I’m going to do this, I have to go all-in. That was about 19 years ago. It was the best move I ever made. I started from scratch with (Lawn Doctor of) Dubuque. Then, I bought out the Lawn Doctor of Madison about 15 years ago. About six years ago, I bought out the Lawn Doctor of La Crosse. They’re all 70, 80 miles apart. We have about 2,500 customers.

2. Tell me about your family and what you all do for fun.

My wife is Cathy. She is a nurse. We have four kids: Cassie is a dental hygienist in Denver. Stephanie is a nurse practitioner in Dubuque. Krista just graduated from Iowa. She is also a nurse practitioner. And Jarred, the youngest, works for me. I have one grandson, (Cassie’s son), Carson, is a little over 1. I’ll tell you what — we’re pretty close. We’ll all go see Cassie in Denver, and sometimes, we fly her here. It seems like we see her now more than when she lived here.

3. What is Dubuque like, and what would you recommend for fun?

Dubuque is called the tri-state; we’re on the border of Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, right on the Mississippi. We have two casinos and a dog track — there’s a lot of gambling here. It’s a very nice town, very old. I was born and raised here. If you visit, you’ve got to hit the dog track. There are only a few states that still have it. It used to be there’d be 2,000 people there on a Tuesday night. Then, they opened the casinos, and it went downhill since then. But I still go out there. It’s fun.

4. What’s the best vacation you’ve ever been on?

We go to a few different places every winter, where it’s warm. But the best one was probably the Bahamas, for my honeymoon. That was my very first time out of the country. It was 80 degrees in November. Nice beaches, nice food, nice everything. I’ve been back since. It’s a lot bigger now. That was 34 years ago that we went for the honeymoon.

5. Here’s a weird one, Jerry: If you could travel in time, where would you go?

You know what? I think I like it right where I’m at. They had to work too hard, and they didn’t have anything before me … I don’t think I had anything when I was younger, and they had even less before me! And after here? You know, it’s getting weird now.
I think we hit the sweet spot right here.

Photo: Seth Jones

Seth Jones

Seth Jones is is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. A graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Seth was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. He has more than 23 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories.

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