Why Go Green’s Founder is still using Real Green after more than 30 years in the Business
Go Green owner Gary Kott knows the lawn care business. It’s what he’s been doing in some form or another for around four decades. And for almost as long, he’s been a part of the Real Green family. He’s seen Real Green grow from a tiny startup to the industry’s premier business software company, and he’s been using our solutions the entire time. As one of the original Real Greeners, Gary has an unparalleled insider’s perspective on just how much Real Green has grown over the years – and just how much the important things have stayed the same.
“When I got out of high school, I worked for a lawn maintenance company. The following season, I was approached by (Real Green founder) Joe Kucik. That was my introduction to lawn fertilizing.” A couple of seasons and a winter spent spraying calcium chloride on the railroad tracks in Detroit later, Joe once again approached Gary with the suggestion that they start their own company.
That was the origin of the original Real Green in 1984. “We started with nothing. We ran it out of Joe’s house – he had a pole barn. We did it by knocking on doors and delivering flyers.” And, of course, they didn’t have any computers. “We had these little route cards,” Gary explains. Everything was on pen and paper, which made it increasingly complicated to keep things efficient and organized as their business continued to grow.
“After that season, Joe and his brother developed Lawn Assistant. They worked on it all winter long, and I did snow plowing to help the business grow. Looking back, that was the start of Real Green, if you will. It was a very raw stage, but it was better than the old route cards.” The first version of Lawn Assistant was a DOS program run on a huge computer and connected to a dot matrix printer. “We could enter a customer, we could enter a program, and print an invoice and a statement. It was very simple, but it worked.” While this is primitive by today’s standards, in 1984 it was cutting edge and revolutionary. This innovative spirit is part of the bedrock of Real Green, a foundational value that the company has never lost sight of.
Gary notes that these origins are what sets Real Green apart from its competitors in the green industry software business. “It’s been produced since day one around lawn care. That’s how it’s evolved. We wrote it just for us. There are so many people who have been with Real Green so long, they know the industry, they know how we do things. It’s very complex to try to teach someone what we do and how we do it. This software is designed to work for the many things we do.”
For years, Gary kept his hands in both worlds, running the original fertilizing business and working with Real Green, and both continued to grow. By 2001, Gary and Joe had sold the original Real Green fertilizing business and were focusing on the software side. Gary explains that all along, “I continued to work for the computer company. As that grew, I did everything: Shipping, setting up all the buildings, the phone systems, software support…you name it, I did it.”
However, Gary was ready to get back into lawn care and fertilizing. In 2010, he started Go Green, ultimately stepping away from working at Real Green entirely. “I went and bought three trucks, and I hired a couple of people. Fertilizing is our core business. We do tree and shrub care, spring/fall aerations, overseeding, perimeter pest control, pretty much keeping it simple. We’re a small family owned business. Now this is our 11th season. We’ve grown to 5656 customers and 2.7 million in revenue.”
Because of his history with the company, Gary has beta tested a number of different Real Green solutions. Go Green was among the very first users of a brand-new app called “Mobile Live,,” just when they were getting their business started. “I was the guinea pig for Mobile Live,” says Gary. “No one had it. We used it for a whole year before they rolled it out to any other companies.”
He also recognizes that the business has come a long way from the hand-written routing cards that prompted the founding of Real Green, noting that with the software, his technicians don’t even need to carry pens and paper in their trucks. “Routing Assistant is one of the best tools in our toolbox. We have this opportunity to look at what’s to be done, what needs to be done. I can look ahead, I can look backwards, I can blend new customers along with current customers. I can route in multiple services with each truck, I can load-balance the routes.”
“Everything we do, Real Green has had their finger on it, so it’s an important part of this business for sure,” continues Gary. “We’re a service business. We have to communicate with our people internally, we have to communicate with our customers. The software allows us to do all of that. It allows us to be efficient, tracking products, tracking usage, tracking where we’ve been, how long we’ve been there. We’ve got a huge marketing database that we lean on. Go Green wouldn’t have grown to where it is now without this software. I’ll say it again: I can’t run this business without it.”