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Industry loses lawn care pioneer Des Rice

April 18, 2011 -  By

By Ron Hall

The passing of Desmond “Des” Rice, 62, Thursday, April 14, in Naples, FL, leaves a huge hole in the professional lawn care industry. Rice and his wife Brenda founded Weed Man in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, in 1970. They started with a $500 loan from his father, and Rice went door-to-door offering to “weed” people’s yards, according to information on Weed Man’s website.

The couple ran the company for seven years until 1976 when they began offering franchises to others in Canada and the United States. That became the next chapter in the history of what’s become one of the most recognizable service brands in North America.

The next big leap for Weed Man took place in 1996 when it became a master licensee of Turf Management Systems, Inc., which began franchising in the United States. Weed Man’s distinctive green and yellow service trucks now operate out of more than 300 locations across North America. Landscape Management’s 2010 LM 150 report listed Weed Man as the fastest-growing (10.5% in 2009) and ninth largest provider landscape/lawn service provider in North America with 2009 revenues of $105 million.

“Des touched a lot of people in his life and he was very special,” says Mike Kernaghan, Rice’s right-hand man and CEO Turf Management Systems, Inc. “We’re going to miss him a lot. He is truly one of the godfathers of lawn care.”

There will be two memorials for Des Rice, the first Friday, April 22, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Naples (FL) Funeral Home, 3107 Davis Blvd. To express your condolences, visit the online Naples Funeral Home guest book here.

There will be a visitation at Glen Oaks Memorial Gardens and Reception Center, 3164 Ninth Line, Oakville, Ontario. Friday, May 13, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. A memorial at the same location takes place Saturday, May 14, at 11 a.m. with a reception to follow.

LM Staff

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