Five Questions: Mark Phillips

November 10, 2022 -  By
Photo: Madison McIntosh

Photo: Madison McIntosh

Mark Phillips

Horticulture / Fertilization specialist, McIntosh Grounds Maintenance, Milan, Mich.

1. What can you tell me about McIntosh Grounds Maintenance? 

We’ve been in business approximately 35 years. The owner started it part-time when he was in high school and worked his way up. He put himself through college cutting grass. He took his business expertise and built it into what it is today. We do the basic landscape industry services. We do pretty much everything except hardscapes.

2. How did you get your start with the company, and how long have you been in the industry? 

I’m halfway through my 14th season. My son-in-law worked here part-time, and in the winter of 2008, my painting and remodeling business started to slow down. They needed some help removing snow on sidewalks. Since my son-in-law worked there, I went in and worked with him and cleared snow. They found out I like to cut grass because it relaxes me. Within a month, I had a job.

3. From 14 years ago to today, do you think customers have become more likely to change companies based on price, or maybe even just on a whim?

No. Our customer retainment is probably 95 percent. When we get a customer, they stick with us for the long haul. Those who leave us move away or die. Sometimes they’ll find a better price. When that happens, within a season or two, they’ll call us back and try to fix things with us.

4. It was great meeting you at the show in Louisville. How was Equip Expo for you and your team? 

It was great. We brought down to the show — with office personnel — 11. We had two people stay back. Last year we took all the new guys down to the show in Kentucky. This year we took three new guys. We did a debrief when we got back. One of the questions was, “so, what did you think?” Their eyes lit up. They knew it was quite a place to go, but they didn’t realize how big the industry really is. The reason we do that is because when we hire someone in, we want to keep them. We want them to know how much they can grow in an industry like this.

5. You’re a self-described ‘old guy’ in the industry. Why do you say that, and why do you keep at it each day? 

I’m 68. I see myself working another couple years and retiring when I turn 70. We’ll see what happens. I’ve already been offered — from McIntosh — to come in a couple days a week doing quality control, training or consulting. I’ll quit full-time, but I’ll be doing something. I don’t see a lot of older gentlemen out doing what I do, even at other (lawn care) companies. I think they get to a point that they get worn out, and enough is enough. I like what I do. I enjoy the job. You have to love what you do. If you can’t get up and enjoy coming to work, get another job. I enjoy the company, which really helps. The culture that we’ve established in our company with our employees is fantastic. The old saying, ‘if you find a job you enjoy, you never work a day in your life.’ I feel that way quite a bit … until the end of the week when my back starts to feel tired. But that’s what weekends are for, right?

Want more Five Questions? Check out our other recent interviews:

Seth Jones

About the Author:

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

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