Solar-powered Lawn Business Finds Niche

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Solar Earth Lawn Care truck with retrofitted solar panels mounted on cab Solar Earth Lawn Care truck with retrofitted solar panels mounted on cab

A central Indiana lawn care company has shifted its focus to a sustainable energy model that’s making customers happy and improving the owner’s bottom line.

In a business landscape filled with plenty of lawn mowing companies, Gus Mariscal knew he’d have to come up with something radically different in order to make his outfit not only stand out from the rest, but make it financially viable as well. So, he decided to go solar. His mowers, blowers and other landscaping tools are powered by batteries that are juiced on solar chargers. But, it was not an overnight change, by any means.

“Our first year, we were a traditional gas mower company, but after that we realized we needed to do something unique and to give our clients an alternative.” Mariscal says that once he discovered an eco-friendly, commercial-grade mower, he took about a year to research equipment and get some sound business advice. “I’m a down-to-earth guy, definitely into organics and being as sustainable as possible, and it just hit me. This is it.”

Mariscal decided early in his conversion process that battery-operated gear wasn’t enough of a commitment to sustainability.

“Yes, all of our mowing equipment is battery-powered. But another step that we took is that our batteries are actually charged by solar panels on our truck so that we create no pollution, no emissions, either when we cut the grass or charge our batteries while we’re on-site.” Mariscal says he worked with a subcontractor in Greenfield to retrofit his truck with two solar panels that are routed into a battery charging station in the vehicle’s tool box.

And so, Solar Earth Lawn Care was in business, the first solar-powered lawn care company in Indiana.

Mariscal is already building a client base that prefers his company’s greener lawn management methods, saying he receives about two referrals each from established customers who have like-minded acquaintances. Solar Earth uses eco-friendly fertilizers and herbicides and employs mechanically-driven spreaders and other devices rather than powered ones.

Solar Earth is attracting customers for another, slightly less environmentally-driven reason as well: his equipment is quiet, and that appeals to both neighbors and homeowners associations.

“We are 50-75% quieter than most gas mowers,” explains Mariscal. “People who don’t necessarily care about air quality care about noise. We’ll do work for first-time clients and I’ll get an email later saying they didn’t even know we were there until we were driving away.”

Being the first at something isn’t always easy. Mariscal says he received excellent advice on determining if he could develop a good base of green-minded clients as well as financial and marketing advice from the Indy Chamber. He’s in the process of setting up a rewards program to benefit both new and existing customers.

And for every new customer the company adds, Mariscal plants a tree as a sign of appreciation.

Solar Earth Lawn Care owner Gus Mariscal discusses placing solar panels on work vehicles.
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